Shatrunjay Bose, Student of Law, UPES, Dehradun
The Supreme Court heard the petition filed by the University Grant Commission (UGC), which challenged the order of the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court and single-judge Bench of the Kerala High Court order which held that the eligibility criteria fixed by the UGC would be set aside after holding NET in June 2012.
The usual norms stated was that general category students had to get qualifying marks of 40 per cent in paper I and II 50 percent in paper III, OBC and SC/ ST students had to score 35, 35, 45 and 35, 35, 40 respectively in all the three papers. But In September 2012 as the results were to be announced of NET 2012, the UGC changed the eligibility criteria and the new norms stated that candidates belonging to the general category were required to score an aggregate of 65 per cent in all three of the NET’s papers to become eligible for college and university lectureship, while OBC candidates need to score 60 per cent and SC/ ST candidates need 55 per cent.
As the judgments in lower courts were going in favour of the students, the UGC appealed in the Supreme Court for hearing its petition. The Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan said that in academic matters, unless until there was a clear violation of statutory provisions, regulations or the notification issued, the courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of experts. As the UGC is an expert body that has been entrusted with the duty to amend and maintain standards of teaching, examination and research in the university.
The University Grant Commission (UGC) can be considered as a ‘state’ under article 12 clause (iv) of the constitution of India therefore it is a statutory body with its own set of experts. So the Supreme Court was correct in leaving the decision of UGC under their own domain experts as there was no breach or violation of any statute or provision.
It was absolutely negative to say that there was a violation of article 14 of the constitution and the decision was arbitrary and illegal as the article 14 is ‘equality before law’ and there was no breach of article 14 as the commission was not discriminating between its students but it was increasing the level of education. The literacy rate in India has risen to 73 per cent in comparison to 64.8 per cent in 2001 therefore the UGC was right in increasing the level of examination by setting a standard cut off for each category to improve the education standards of India. The main aim of examination is not just merely passing it but to excel in that field for the benefit of our country.