Supreme Court Judgement on Distance Engineering Courses
Latest of Universities, UGC, DEC & AICTE News
The Supreme has recalled its earlier order suspending all the Engineering Degrees acquired in distance education mode until the declaration of the result and has also excluded the Diploma Holders from the AICTE Examination / revalidation process. Earlier, in Judgement dated 03.11.2017, the Supreme Court had suspended all the Distance Education Degree for the students enrolled between 2001-2005 and for students enrolled thereafter, the degrees were rendered illegal and invalid. However, Supreme Court was later approached with several application seeking clarification and modification of directions issued in its Judgment and Order dated 03.11.2017. The various categories of the Candidates, who has approached Supreme Court seeking clarification were: A] Those who were holding diplomas in Engineering, enrolled in courses leading to award of B.Tech degree through distance learning mode or have acquired Graduate Degree from Distance Learning Mode. Later, on the basis of these degrees underwent selection by Union Public Service Commission or any other statutory corporation and entered certain services and are presently engaged in the service on the basis of such selection by UPSC / statutory corporation. Some applicants were also those who have joined Private Sector, Corporate Sector or are in foreign countries. B] The students though completed B.Tech courses in Computer Science through distance education mode in 2004 but instructions were imparted in ITM International and they were awarded degrees by Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Deemed to be University. Later they acquired degrees in M.Tech and other qualifications based on such B.Tech degree and have thereafter advanced in career. C] The candidates had acquired first degrees in Engineering from a regular and approved Institution and as such their first degrees are not invalid or irregular on any count. However, these candidates had later acquired Master’s degrees in Engineering from Deemed to be Universities through distance education mode. D] Those who were awarded diplomas in Engineering through distance education mode by the concerned Deemed to be Universities. E] Those who had enrolled themselves in courses offered by Vinayaka Missions Research Foundation (VMRF) through distance education mode, which was granted Deemed to be University status for its excellence in subjects including engineering and technology unlike other Deemed to be Universities. It was generally argued by the Counsels that an exception be made in favour of such candidates whose qualifications were independently considered by an authority such as UPSC and were selected through competitive selection process. Mr. Kapil Sibal, learned Senior Advocate argued that in the main judgement, Court was principally concerned with first degrees in engineering which were acquired through distance education mode and not the Master’s degrees. Mr. Dhruv Mehta, learned Senior Advocate argued that this Court was concerned with courses leading to degrees of Engineering and not to diplomas and as such rigor of the Judgment ought not to apply to pure and simply diploma holders. He therefore contended that the public notice issued by AICTE was beyond the scope of the matter. Mr. Anupam Lal Das, learned Advocate submitted that VMRF was granted Deemed to be University status for its excellence in subjects including engineering and technology and therefore the case of VMRF stood on a different footing and the courses offered by VMRF were not in any way found to be on the wrong side. One of the most important argument was regarding suspension of Degrees till the results are declared by AICTE, through an examination, which was to be conducted as per the direction of the Supreme Court. It was argued that may result in loss of job for candidates, who had independently undergone fresh selection and were directly appointed and even if they were to successfully pass the test conducted by AICTE, restoration of their original position and jobs would itself become a difficult proposition. The Supreme Court while heard the matter at length on 08.01.2018 and the Judgement was pronounced on 22.01.2018.