Observing that “the courts should not venture into academic arena which is best suited for academician and experts”, the Delhi High Court has upheld the mandatory requirement of clearing the National Eligibility Test (NET) or the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) for appointment to the post of lecturer.
The University Grants Commission had framed this rule called Regulations-2009 in July last year.
However, those who have secured a Ph.D. degree in compliance with the UGC Regulations-2009 (Minimum Standards and Procedure for award of Ph.D.) are exempted from this rule.
The judgment by a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan came on a petition by the All India Researchers' Co-ordination Committee challenging the Constitutional validity of fixing the minimum eligibility requirement for appointment as a lecturer.
Counsel for the petitioner, Amit Kumar, had challenged the rule mainly on the ground that the UGC had framed it on a direction by the Union Government which is against the express provisions in the UGC Act, 1956, for framing regulations.
He further submitted that the Act empowers the UGC to frame rules for regulating teaching, research and examinations in universities across the country independent of any external pressure from the Government.
Another submission by him was that it had been the consistent policy of the UGC and the Government to grant exemption to those who had obtained M.Phil. or Ph.D. degree before the cut-off date.
A similar exemption was also provided by Regulations-2006 which had given rise to a legitimate expectation that a person having an M.Phil. or a Ph.D. degree would be eligible for the post of lecturer, he further submitted, adding that an impression was created that they would not have to pass the NET.
Counsel for the Centre Neeraj Chaudhury defended the Government's directive to the UGC to frame the rule as the Act empowers it to issue directions to the regulatory body on questions of policy relating to national interest.
UGC counsel Amitesh Kumar submitted that under Section 20 of the Act the Centre is empowered to issue directions to the UGC on questions of policy relating to national purposes and such directions are binding on the UGC.
In pursuance of the direction issued by the Government, the UGC in exercise of its power conferred by Section 26(1)(e) and (g) read with Section 14 of the Act had framed the Regulations, 2009, he added.
The Bench dismissed the petition saying that it is bereft of merit. Also, it has not been implemented retrospectively.