Repeal of Draft Enactment of Formation of Higher Education Commission

PUCL, Gujarat wrote a letter on 13-07-18 to
Prakash Javadekar, Minister for, H.R.D. Department, Govt. of India, New Delhi.

For repeal of Draft Enactment of Formation of Higher Education Commission.

Does the Govt. intend to enslave the professors?
Autonomy of the colleges and universities will be endangered because of the new Act.
New Commission shall turn out to be Yes Man of the Govt.
Powers of the State Govt. shall also be voided
New Act is like a slavery deed for the higher education.

The Indian Radical Humanist Association strongly condemns the enactment being introduced by the Central Govt. to form the Indian Higher Education Commission by scrapping the University Grants Commission. The Commission shall concentrate on the educational matters whereas financial matters shall remain under the direct control of Human Resources Development Department of the Central Govt. This means that H. R. Department will decide whether or not to grant and give how much grant to an institution. This will result into direct intervention of the H. R. Department. It appears that such a situation will lead to a grave danger on the autonomy and independence of the higher educational institute as well as the overall independence of the educational field.
The Central Govt. has alluded that it believes in Support of All, for Development of All. Therefore, it has given hardly 9 days time to the educational field after notifying this draft Act to consider it and to submit its suggestions. When the Govt. convenes so many official meetings for preparing draft of education policy but not for enacting it then it is not understood why it makes haste or hurry to pass an Act on the front of higher education. On the one hand it is transpired that the Govt. is looking for obedient or yes-men professors, colleges and universities and is desirous of passing the Act without due discussion on it. By notifying the draft of the Act and by calling for suggestions the Govt. aims at merely portraying that only for the sake of showing that it follows high standard of transparency and participative involvement and that of good governance.
National President of I.R.H.A. hereby informed that worse and highly dangerous provisions have been made in the Article 24 and 25. One Advisory Committee will be constituted in accordance with the Article 24 and its Chairman will be the Minister for Human Resources Department. This Committee will consist of Chairman / Vice Chairman of this Commission and Chairman / Vice Chairman and members of Conference of Higher Education of all the States. As regards Gujarat, Chairman of this Conference in the State is the Chief Minister himself. Wherever this is so then in all such cases, the Chief Minister shall become ex-officio Chairman of this Advisory Committee. This Advisory Committee shall meet every six months and it shall co-ordinate working of the State Govt. and Central Govt. on the front of the higher education. It will take into consideration issues of co-ordination for implementation of projected targets on the higher education and shall find solution. The Commission shall make implementation based on the advice given by this Advisory Committee. In this matter, as regards implementation, the word shall is used instead of the word may. This means that the Commission has to compulsorily implement whatever advice that has been given to the Commission by this Advisory Committee. Then where is the need of the Commission? In this instance, the autonomy does not subsist on the part of the Commission.
The Article 25 of the proposed Act deals a more severe blow on the autonomy and independence of the Commission or the institutions of higher education. The Article 25 (1) also stipulates that the Commission shall function only in the context of the directions given by the Central Govt. on the national objective related to policy matter issues. Moreover, the Article 25 (2) provides that in case the Commission is in disagreement on the decision of the Central Govt. then the decision of the Central Govt. shall be final. Decision of the Central Govt. whether it is related to policy matter or of any other type it shall be final for the Commission and the latter shall have to comply with it. In this way, mention of policy matter is made and under the Article 25 (2), mention of any matter was made. Looking at this way, the Commission itself will not be able to act as an autonomous body but will act as if it is a sort of Department of the Govt. In this Article, it has not been stated as to who the Central Govt. shall be. It can either be any Secretary, any Minister or a Prime Minister or even an employee and it will be binding on the Commission to follow the dictates of the Central Govt. The Commission shall have to abide by it otherwise it can be viewed as the degradation of the Commission and the Central Govt. shall dissolve and nullify the entire Commission. This means that all the powers are vested in the Govt. and the Commission does not exercise any power.
This Act shall apply to all to all the institutions of higher education but will not apply to institutes which have been declared by the Govt. as institutes of national importance. In this way, in the case of higher education, institutes of two categories shall come into existence. In this way, there shall be a handful No. of research and teaching institutes of national institutes of national importance and majority of institutes shall be without any national importance with whom the Govt. shall deal in a discriminative manner. Obviously, majority number of colleges of small villages and towns or colleges of major cities are bereft of national importance.
Even a non-resident Indian can become a Chairman of the Commission. This means that as one American Indian was the first chairman of the Planning Commission, it can also become applicable in this case also. Now the question arises as how can one who has stayed abroad since many years can be aware of situation really prevailing in the country. How much is their thinking or grasping power and what kind of reforms they can make. There is no doubt at all on their intelligence but all these questions obviously pose trouble.
The Article 42 (2) (E) of the Act states that any member, chairman or vice chairman of the Commission can be lawfully terminated from his post on the charges of moral turpitude. If they have committed any crime and the court has found them guilty then also it will be necessary that the Govt. treats it as a moral turpitude. If the Govt. does not consider it so then it may not sack them from their posts. In this way, the Govt. has kept the window open for it to function in an arbitrary way. As per definition of moral turpitude, Govt. can do anything it pleases, to any person and at any time.
The Article 15 (4) (J) stipulates that in order to bring transparency in the decision process and management of institutions of higher education and to bring about efficiency the Commission will recommend to formulate professor-centric administrative structure. Here, the word recommendation has been used and not the word directive which means that the Commission shall be contented merely by offering recommendations to the Colleges and Universities. Everyone knows how much is the participation of the professors in the administration of the institutions of the higher education. Here, the word regime has been used and the word administration or management has not been used. In the ordinary meaning of the word regime are included basic elements of transparency, accountability, decentralization, participation, rule of law and human rights. Concern of none of the elements, anywhere, has been taken care of in this Act.
As per this Act, control can be exercised on the bogus institutes on the educational front, which cheats the guardians and the students or on the colleges or universities which are neither functioning as per norms of U.G.C. nor are having infrastructural facilities conforming to its norms. There cannot be any objection against punishment or penalty imposed on those establishing and managing such institutes. This task can be done by the existing act of the U.G.C. or by bringing in amendment but it has not been done so because those establishing such institutes are having strong political clout. It is a major question as to why the U.G.C. has given approval or has given registration to such institutes for awarding degree or diploma. In the guise of imposing punishment or penalty to such criminals in the higher education front, swooping on the autonomy of all the higher education institutes and their professors is a matter which contravenes the educational freedom and autonomy. They further add that, in fact, this Act is being introduced to annihilate whatever educational freedom that is prevailing in the colleges and universities. Pursuant to this Act the Commission has been given powers to close down on-going colleges or universities and those which shall be established hereafter can be closed down at any time, which as a matter of fact, shows the conspiracy on the part of the Government to tighten its control on the higher education. It appears that with implementation of this Act, whatever little liberty is being experienced by all the institutes of higher education in the context of State Govts. and Universities established by virtue of laws passed by the State Governments and Legislature Assemblies shall come to an end.
Under the Section 7 of the Constitution higher education is also the task of the State Governments. Hence, it is not at all reasonable if the Commission or the Central Govt. takes over almost all the powers of the higher education vested with the State Govt. and because of that also it is essential for the State Governments to oppose the proposed Act. The Central government believes that it wants to enslave Universities, Colleges and research institutes and it is solely possessed of thinking power and intelligence and all should follow it. It is the only desire of the Central govt. that the professors should be reduced to insects only. It is the craving and inevitable part of mindset of the present Govt. which boasts of saying that it has done something new and thus to capture all the powers to itself and this Act is the result of that. There is no doubt that this is a Rolette like black Act and it is felt that it should never be enacted. Therefore, the Indian Radical Humanist Association demands that the draft of this Act should be withdrawn.
We wish to meet you personally as per your convenience and request you to give us appointment.
Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,

Gautam Thaker
National President,
Indian Radical Humanist Association