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power to fix the final qualifying criteria = whether the University Grants Commission (for short “the UGC”) has got the power to fix the final qualifying criteria, for those who have obtained the minimum marks for all the papers, before the final declaration of the results of the National Eligibility Test (for short “NET”) for the year 2012.= We are of the considered opinion that all the steps taken by the UGC were strictly in accordance with clause 7 of the Notification for the NET Examination, 2012. Prescribing the qualifying criteria as per clause 7, in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as it was already pre-meditated in the notification. We are not inclined to say that the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the candidates. The UGC in exercise of its statutory powers and the laid down criteria in the notification for NET June, 2012, has constituted a Moderation Committee consisting of experts for finalising the qualifying criteria for lectureship eligibility and JRF. UGC acted on the basis of the recommendations made by the Expert Committee. The recommendations made by them have already been explained in the earlier part of the judgment. Reason for making such recommendations has also been highlighted in the Report. We are of the considered view that the candidates were not misled in any manner. Much emphasis has been made on the words “clearing the National Eligibility Test”. “Clearing” means clearing the final results, not merely passing in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, which is only the initial step, not final. To clear the NET Examination, as already indicated, the candidate should satisfy the final qualifying criteria laid down by the UGC before declaration of the results. We are of the view that, in academic matters, unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, the Regulations or the Notification issued, the Courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of the experts. This Court in University of Mysore vs. C.D. Govinda Rao, AIR 1965 SC 491, Tariq Islam vs. Aligarh Muslim University (2001) 8 SCC 546 and Rajbir Singh Dalal vs. Chaudhary Devi Lal University (2008) 9 SCC 284, has taken the view that the Court shall not generally sit in appeal over the opinion expressed by expert academic bodies and normally it is wise and safe for the Courts to leave the decision of academic experts who are more familiar with the problem they face, than the Courts generally are. UGC as an expert body has been entrusted with the duty to take steps as it may think fit for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the University. For attaining the said standards, it is open to the UGC to lay down any “qualifying criteria”, which has a rational nexus to the object to be achieved, that is for maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research. Candidates declared eligible for lectureship may be considered for appointment as Assistant Professors in Universities and colleges and the standard of such a teaching faculty has a direct nexus with the maintenance of standards of education to be imparted to the students of the universities and colleges. UGC has only implemented the opinion of the Experts by laying down the qualifying criteria, which cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. 30. The Appeals are accordingly allowed and the judgment of the High Court is set aside. The Applications for Impleadment and Intervention are dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

  published in   http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40796 

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8355 OF 2013
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 19933 of 2013]

University Grants Commission & Anr. .. Appellants

Versus

Neha Anil Bobde (Gadekar) … Respondent

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8356 OF 2013
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.24879 of 2013]

AND
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8357 OF 2013
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.25052 of 2013]
J U D G M E N T
K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.
1. Leave granted.

 
2. We are, in these appeals, called upon to examine whether the
University Grants Commission (for short “the UGC”) has got the power to fix
the final qualifying criteria, for those who have obtained the minimum
marks for all the papers, before the final declaration of the results of
the National Eligibility Test (for short “NET”) for the year 2012.
3. We have, before us, a judgment of the Division Bench of the Bombay
High Court, Bench at Nagpur, which ruled that the UGC lacked the competence
to fix the aggregate marks as the final qualifying criteria, after the
candidates obtained the minimum marks, prescribed in the notification dated
6.12.2012 before the declaration of results of NET Examination, agreeing
with a similar view expressed by a learned single Judge of the Kerala High
Court.
4. Let us, at the outset, examine the scope of the University Grants
Commission Act, 1956 (for short “the UGC Act”), the University Grants
Commission Regulations, 2010 etc., which is necessary for a proper
appreciation of the various contentions raised by the learned counsel on
either side.
5. The UGC Act, 1956 was enacted by the Parliament under the provisions
of Entry 66 List I of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which
entitles it to legislate in respect of “co-ordination and determination of
standards in Institutions for higher education or research and scientific
and technical education”. For the said purpose, the Act authorized the
Central Government to establish a commission, by name, the University
Grants Commission. Chapter III of the Act deals with the powers and
functions of the Commission. Section 12 states that it shall be the
general duty of the Commission to take, in consultation with the
Universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may think fit
for the promotion and co-ordination of University education and for the
determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and
research in Universities, and for the purpose of performing its functions
under the Act, the Commission has been bestowed with certain powers under
the Act. Clause (j) of Section 12 reads as under:
“12(j) perform such other functions as may be prescribed or
as may be deemed necessary by the Commission for
advancing the cause of higher education in India or as
may be incidental or conducive to the discharge of the
above functions.”

 
6. Section 26(1) of the UGC Act confers powers on it to make regulations
consistent with the Act and the Rules. Clauses (e), (f) and (g) of
Section 26 are of some relevance and are given below:
“26.(1) The Commission may, by notification in the Official
Gazette, make regulations consistent with this Act and the
rules made thereunder-
xxx xxx xxx
(e) defining the qualifications that should ordinarily be
required of any person to be appointed to the teaching
staff of the University, having regard to the branch of
education in which he is expected to give instruction;
(f) defining the minimum standards of instruction for the
grant of any degree by any University;
(g) regulating the maintenance of standards and the co-
ordination of work or facilities in Universities.
xxx xxx xxx”
7. UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred under Clauses (e) and (g) of
Section 26(1) of the UGC Act and in supersession of the University Grants
Commission (Minimum Qualifications required for the Appointment and Career
Advancement of Teachers in Universities and Institutions affiliated to it)
Regulations, 2000, issued the University Grants Commission (Minimum
Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in
Universities and Colleges and other Measures for the Maintenance of
Standards in Higher Education)Regulations, 2010. Regulation 2 states that
the minimum qualifications for appointment and other service conditions of
University and College teachers, Librarians and Directors of Physical
Education and Sports as a measure for the maintenance of standards in
higher education, shall be as provided in the Annexure to the above
Regulations. Clause 3.3.1 of the Annexure reads as follows:
“3.3.1. NET/SLET/SET shall remain the minimum eligibility
condition for recruitment and appointment of Assistant
Professors in Universities /Colleges/Institutions.

Provided however, that candidates, who are or have been awarded
a Ph.D Degree in accordance with the University Grants
Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of Ph.D
Degree) Regulations, 2009, shall be exempted from the
requirement of the minimum eligibility condition of
NET/SLET/SET for recruitment and appointment of Assistant
Profession or equivalent positions in Universities/
Colleges/Institutions.”
8. Clause 4.0.0 deals with Direct Recruitment. Clause 4.4.0 deals with
Assistant Professor and Clause 4.4.1 deals with various disciplines, like
Art, Humanities etc and qualifications prescribed for them read as follows:

“4.4.1 Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Social Sciences, Commerce,
Education, Languages, Law, Journalism and Mass
Communication
i. Good academic record as defined by the concerned university
with at least 55% marks (or an equivalent grade in a point scale
wherever grading system is follows) at the Master’s Degree level
in a relevant subject from an Indian University, or an
equivalent degree from an accredited foreign university.
ii. Besides fulfilling the above qualifications, the candidate
must have cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted
by the UGC, CSIR or similar test accredited by the UGC like
SLET/SET.
iii. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub- clauses (i) and
(ii) to this Clause 4.4.1, candidates, who are, or have been
awarded a Ph.D Degree in accordance with the University Grants
Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of Ph.D.
Degree) Regulations, 2009 shall be exempted from the requirement
of the minimum eligibility condition of NET/SLET/SET for
recruitment and appointment of Assistant Professor or equivalent
positions in Universities/ Colleges/Institutions
iv. NET/SLET/SET shall also not be required for such Masters
Programmes in disciplines for which NET/SLET/SET is not
conducted.”

 

9. UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred on it under the various
provisions mentioned hereinabove, is duty bound to conduct the NET for
conferring eligibility for lectureship and for awarding Junior Research
Fellowship (for short “JRF”). UGC conducts such a test every year.

10. UGC, in its 482nd meeting held on 22.12.2011, decided as under:
“During the course of discussion, the Commission also
deliberated in detail the issues pertaining to objectivity in marking
of Paper-III, transparency, reducing the inter and intra-examiner
variability in marking of Paper-III, delays in declaration of NET
results, recommendations of the NET Moderation Committees to switch
over Paper-III from descriptive to objective type on the pattern of
CSIR- NET Examination wherein all the three papers are of objective
type.
Having regard to the above, the Commission decided that Paper-
III be converted into objective type from the ensuing examination
scheduled in June 2012. Further, the Commission also recommended that
the action may also be initiated for the development of question
banks.”

 
11. Notification for the NET examination was accordingly published on
06.02.2012 for determination of the eligibility of Indian Nationals for the
award of JRF and the eligibility for lectureship in Indian Universities and
Colleges.
12. UGC, under that Notification, announced that NET would be held on
24th June, 2012 and the candidates were directed to read the notification
carefully before submission of the application form. Clause 3 refers to
the condition of eligibility and Para 7 of the Notification deals with the
Scheme and date of test. Operative portion of Para 7 is given below for
easy reference :-
“7. SCHEME AND DATE OF TEST:
i) The UGC-NET will be conducted in objective mode from June
2012 onwards. The Test will consist of three papers. All the
three papers will consist of only objective type questions and
will be held on 24th June, 2012 (SUNDAY) in two separate
sessions as under:
|Session |Paper |Marks |Number of Question |Duration |
|First |I |100 |60 out of which 50 |1 ¼ Hours |
| | | |questions to be |(09.30 A.M. |
| | | |attempted |to 10.45 |
| | | | |A.M.) |
|First |II |100 |50 questions are |1 ¼ Hours |
| | | |compulsory |(10.45 to |
| | | | |12.00 Noon) |
|Second |III |150 |75 questions all |2 ½ Hours |
| | | |are compulsory |(01.30 P.M. |
| | | | |to 04.00 |
| | | | |P.M.) |
Paper- I shall be of general nature, intended to assess the
teaching/research aptitude of the candidate. It will primarily
be designed to test reasoning ability, comprehension, divergent
thinking and general awareness of the candidate. Sixty (60)
multiple choice questions of two marks each will be given, out
of which the candidate would be required to answer any fifty
(50). In the event of the candidate attempting more than fifty
questions, the first fifty questions attempted by the candidate
would be evaluated.

Paper-II shall consist of 50 objective type compulsory questions
based on the subject selected by the candidate. Each question
will carry 2 marks.

Paper-III shall consist of 75 objective type compulsory
questions from the subject selected by the candidate. Each
question will carry 2 marks.

The candidate will have to mark the responses for questions of
Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III on the Optical Mark Reader (OMR)
sheet provided along with the Test Booklet. The detailed
instructions for filling up the OMR Sheet will be sent to the
candidate along with the Admit Card.
The candidates are required to obtain minimum marks separately
in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III as given below:

 

 

 
| |Minimum Marks (%) to be obtained |
|CATEGORY |PAPER-I |PAPER-II |PAPER-III |
| GENERAL |40 (40%) |40 (40%) |75 (50%) |
|OBC (Non-creamy |35 (35%) |35 (35%) |67.5 (45%) |
|layer | | |rounded off |
| | | |to 68 |
|PH/VH/SC/ST |35 (35%) |35 (35%) |60 (40%) |

Only such candidates who obtain the minimum required marks in
each Paper, separately, as mentioned above, will be considered
for final preparation of result. However, the final qualifying
criteria for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Eligibility
for Lectureship shall be decided by UGC before declaration of
result.”
13. UGC, accordingly, conducted the examination on 24th June, 2012. On
17th September, 2012, the Moderation Committee constituted by the UGC
consisting of the Chairman and Secretary, UGC, former Director, NCERT,
former Member of the UGC, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Gujarat,
Vice-Chancellor, Tripura University, Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University,
Head, Dept. of Bio-Technology, University of Madras, Vice-Chancellor, Doon
University and few other experts, met for finalising the “Qualifying
Criteria” for Lectureship eligibility and took the following decision :-
“II. CONSIDERATION ZONE FOR UGC-NET
The candidates are required to obtain minimum marks separately
in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III as given below:

Table (i)
|Category |Minimum marks (%) to be obtained |
| |Paper-I |Paper-II |Paper-III |
|General |40(40%) |40(40%) |75 (50%) |
|OBC |35(35%) |35(35%) |67.5(45%) |
| | | |rounded off |
| | | |to 68) |
|SC/ST/PWD |35(35%) |35(35%) |60(40%) |

Only such candidates who obtain the minimum required marks in
each Paper, separately, as mentioned above, were to be
considered for final preparation of result. As many as 2.04,150
candidates fell in the above-mentioned consideration zone.
III. QUALIFYING CRETERIA FOR LECTURESHIP ELIGIBILITY
Taking cognizance of the consideration zone described above, the
final qualifying criteria for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF)
and Eligibility for Lectureship are to be determined by the
Moderation Committee for declaration of result.
In addition to the consideration zone described above, the
Committee decided to establish another category-wise benchmark
for Lectureship Eligibility, i.e. aggregate percentage of all
the three papers. Thus, the proposed qualifying criteria for
Lectureship Eligibility are as follows:

Table (ii)
|Category |Minimum Qualifying Percentage |
| |Paper-I |Paper-II |Paper-III |Aggregate |
|General |40 % |40 % |50 % |65 % |
|OBC |35 % |35 % |45 % |60 % |
|SC/ST/PWD |35 % |35 % |40 % |55 % |

As per the above criteria, it was found by the Committee that a
total of 43974 candidates qualify for lectureship eligibility.”
14. The Committee recommended that the General, OBC (Non-Creamy Layer)
and SC/ST/PWD candidates would be required to obtain an aggregate
percentage of 65%, 60% and 55% respectively in addition to the paper-wise
minimum percentage presented in clause 7 of the UGC NET Notification for
June 2012, as qualifying criteria. Based on the recommendations of the
Moderation Committee, result was declared on 18th September, 2012 and the
category-wise qualifying criteria to the UGC-NET examination held on 24th
June, 2012 was as under :

 

 
“Category-Wise Qualifying Criteria for Lectureship Eligibility in UGC-
NET held on 24th June, 2012:

|Category |Minimum Qualifying Percentage |
| |Paper-I |Paper-II |Paper-III |Aggregate |
|General |40 % |40 % |50 % |65 % |
|OBC (Non Creamy |35 % |35 % |45 % |60 % |
|Layer) | | | | |
|SC/ST/PWD |35 % |35 % |40 % |55 % |

15. UGC later received some representations regarding the criteria
adopted for the NET-JUNE 2012 and keeping in view the same, the Commission
met on 20.10.2012 and set up a five member Expert Committee from amongst
the Commission Members for examining the representations/grievances related
to NET-JUNE 2012 and re-visit the results, if found necessary. The
Committee, after examining the representations, recommended as under:-
“(i) Grievances related to insufficient information in the
advertisement: The Committee noted that the advertisement clearly
stated that securing minimum marks required in each paper do not
amount to eligibility for the purpose of NET. In the past, scores in
all the three papers were taken into account while preparing the list
of selected candidates for the purposes of JRF. At the same time, the
Committee felt that in future the announcement should make it very
clear that the scores in all the three papers shall be taken into
account for NET as well as JRF and that Eligibility for NET shall be
determined separately for each subject by taking into account the
performance of all the candidates.
(ii) Grievances related to the uniform and high cut-off for UGC-NET
across various disciplines: The Committee examined the pattern of
marks secured in different subjects and the proportion of candidates
who were eligible for UGC-NET based on the uniform cut-off approved by
the Moderation Committee. It noted that the proportion of students
who made it varied hugely across the subjects, from above 30% to as
low as less than 1% in many subjects. The Committee felt that this
method puts candidates from several subjects to disadvantage. A fair
method must also take into account the performance relative to other
candidates. Accordingly, the Committee recommended a correction in
the list of candidates eligible for UGC-NET held in June 2012. For
this correction, additional criteria (b below) shall be used and any
candidate who meets either of the following two criteria shall be
eligible for UGC-NET:
a) Those candidates who had made it to the consideration zone, i.e.
those who received a minimum of 40%, 40% & 50% marks in Paper-I,
Paper-II and Paper-III respectively for General Category; 35%, 35%
& 45% marks in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III respectively for OBC
(Non-Creamy Layer) Category and 35%, 35% & 40% marks in Paper-I,
Paper-II and Paper-III respectively for SC/ST/PWD Category and
those who secured aggregate percentage (obtained by combining marks
of Paper-I, II & III) of 65% for General Category, 60% for OBC (Non-
Creamy Layer) and 55% for SC/ST/PWD category candidates (This is
the same criterion as described by the earlier Moderation
Committee).
OR
b) Those candidates who figure among top 7% of all the candidates who
appeared in NET; this shall be calculated separately for each
discipline and for each category (SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer)/PWD.
Accordingly a cut-off will be determined for each subject and each
category for this purpose. In case of tie (when several students
have same identical aggregate marks) all the candidates appearing
at the qualifying marks shall be included. Candidates who do not
secure minimum required score in each paper and are therefore not
in the consideration zone, will not be included in this list even
if they fall among the top 7% within their subject and category.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx”
16. The Committee revisited the results and decided to qualify a few
additional candidates for JRF and eligibility for lectureship both and
eligibility for lectureship only. Accordingly, UGC prepared supplementary
result qualifying 15,178 additional candidates which was declared on
12.11.2012. This was in addition to the candidates declared as qualified
in the original result of June 2012 UGC-NET declared on 18.9.2012.
17. Altogether 5,71,630 candidates appeared in the UGC-NET Examination,
2012, out of which 2,04,150 candidates got the minimum marks prescribed
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III and fell in the consideration
zone. From that, 57,550 candidates were declared passed in the NET
Examination for the year 2012, applying the qualifying criteria laid down
by the Expert Committee of the UGC.

18. We notice, the candidates who have obtained the minimum marks in
Paper I, Paper II and Paper III approached the High Court of Bombay at
Nagpur Bench seeking a declaration that the change of qualifying criteria
reflected in the final declaration of results is arbitrary, illegal and
without authority of law and is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution
of India. Further, it was also stated that the declaration of NET alone
being the minimum eligibility standard, UGC has attempted to fix the
Aggregate Criteria as an additional qualifying criteria, which action of
the UGC goes beyond the scope of the notification. Further, it was also
pointed out that if at all the UGC has got the power to fix any additional
qualifying criteria prior to the declaration of results, the same should
have been notified at the time of taking the NET examination. Further, it
was also the case of the writ petitioners that the object of prescribing
NET is only to have uniform standards of lecturers to be appointed across
the country and to remove the disparity in evaluation by awarding the
degrees by various Universities and that the UGC is not a recruiting
authority. UGC, according to the candidates, is only expected to
prescribe uniform standards and not to superimpose any further qualifying
criteria before the declaration of the results. The High Court found favour
with the contentions raised by the writ petitioners and allowed the writ
petition and directed the UGC to declare the results with reference to the
minimum marks prescribed for passing those papers. Aggrieved by the same,
these appeals have been preferred by the UGC.

19. We have heard counsel on the either side at length. Let us, at the
outset, point out that the power of the UGC to set the standard of
qualifying criteria, as such, is not disputed but, it was pointed out, such
qualifying criteria ought to have been notified and made known to the
candidates before taking the examination on 24th June, 2012. After
prescribing that the candidates were required to obtain minimum marks
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, there is no justification in
superimposing an additional qualifying criteria before the declaration of
the results.

20. We have elaborately referred to various statutory provisions which
would clearly indicate that the UGC as an expert body has been entrusted by
UGC Act the general duty to take such steps as it may think fit for the
determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and
research in Universities. It is also duty bound to perform such functions
as may be prescribed or as may be deemed necessary by the Commission for
advancing the cause of higher education in India. The UGC has also got the
power to define the qualification that should ordinarily be required for
any person to be appointed to the teaching staff of the University and to
regulate the maintenance of standards and coordination of work and
faculties in the Universities.

21. This Court in University of Delhi v. Raj Singh 1994 Supp. (3) SCC 516
dealt with the powers of UGC elaborately and held as follows:
“20. The ambit of Entry 66 has already been the subject of the
decisions of this Court in the cases of the Gujarat University v.
Krishna Ranganath Mudholkar 1963 Supp 1 SCR 112 and the Osmania
University Teachers’ Association v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1987) 4
SCC 671. The UGC Act is enacted under the provisions of Entry 66 to
carry out the objective thereof. Its short title, in fact, reproduces
the words of Entry 66. The principal function of the UGC is set out in
the opening words of Section 12, thus:
“It shall be the general duty of the Commission to take …
all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and
coordination of University education and for the determination
and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and
research in Universities ….”
It is very important to note that a duty is cast upon the Commission
to take “all such steps as it may think fit … for the determination
and maintenance of standards of teaching”. These are very wide-ranging
powers. Such powers, in our view, would comprehend the power to
require those who possess the educational qualifications required for
holding the post of lecturer in Universities and colleges to appear
for a written test, the passing of which would establish that they
possess the minimal proficiency for holding such post. The need for
such test is demonstrated by the reports of the commissions and
committees of educationists referred to above which take note of the
disparities in the standards of education in the various Universities
in the country. It is patent that the holder of a postgraduate degree
from one University is not necessarily of the same standard as the
holder of the same postgraduate degree from another University. That
is the rationale of the test prescribed by the said Regulations. It
falls squarely within the scope of Entry 66 and the UGC Act inasmuch
as it is intended to co-ordinate standards and the UGC is armed with
the power to take all such steps as it may think fit in this behalf.
For performing its general duty and its other functions under the UGC
Act, the UGC is invested with the powers specified in the various
clauses of Section 12. These include the power to recommend to a
University the measures necessary for the improvement of University
education and to advise in respect of the action to be taken for the
purpose of implementing such recommendation [clause (d)]. The UGC is
also invested with the power to perform such other functions as may be
prescribed or as may be deemed necessary by it for advancing the cause
of higher education in India or as may be incidental or conducive to
the discharge of such functions [clause (j)]…………”
22. The judgment referred to above was later followed in University
Grants Commission v. Sadhana Chaudhary and Others (1996) 10 SCC 536,
wherein this Court dealt with the recommendation of the Malhotra Committee
and the powers of UGC. Reference may also be made to another judgment of
this Court in Annamalai University represented by Registrar v. Secretary to
Government, Information and Tourism Department and Others (2009) 4 SCC 590,
wherein this Court reiterated that the UCG Act was enacted for effectuating
co-ordination and determination of standards in universities and colleges.
23. UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred under clauses (e) and (g) of
Section 26(1) of the UGC Act, issued the UGC (Minimum Qualification of
Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and other
measures for Maintenance of Standards of Higher Education) Regulations,
2010. Clause 3.3.1 of the Regulation specifically states the NET shall
remain the minimum eligibility condition for recruitment and for
appointment of Assistant Professors in the
Universities/Colleges/Institutions. Clause 4.4.1 stipulates that before
fulfilling the other prescribed qualifications, the candidates must have
cleared the National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC. Therefore, the
power of the UGC to prescribe, as it thinks fit¸ the qualifying criteria
for maintenance of standards of teaching, examination etc. cannot be
disputed. It is in exercise of the above statutory powers, the UGC has
issued the notification for holding the NET on 24th June, 2012. Para 7 of
the Notification deals with the Scheme of the Act which clearly indicates
that the candidates are required to obtain minimum marks separately in
Paper I, Paper II and Paper III. It also clearly indicates that only such
candidates who obtain minimum required marks in each paper will be
considered for final preparation of results. The final qualifying
criteria for JRF and eligibility for lectureship shall be decided by UGC
before declaration of result. Above clause deals with the following
requirements to be followed before the final declaration of the results:-
i) Candidates to obtain minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper
II and Paper III;
ii) Candidates who have satisfied the above criteria only would be
subjected to a qualifying criteria before the final preparation of
result; (Consideration Zone)
iii) UGC has to fix the final qualifying criteria before the declaration
of results.
24. Candidates are seeking final declaration of results the moment they
have obtained the minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper
III, ignoring the other two steps, referred to hereinbefore, and also
forgetting the fact that only those who obtain the minimum required marks
alone will fall in the consideration zone. All these steps, as we have
referred to above, have been clearly stipulated in the notification for NET
Examination, 2012.
25. We find, 2,04,150 candidates have obtained the minimum marks
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III. All those candidates were
subjected to a final qualifying criteria fixed by the Committee constituted
by the UGC, since they fell within the Consideration Zone. Applying the
final qualifying criteria, the Committee made the following recommendations
:-
i) The Committee recommended that a total of 43,974 candidates may
be declared qualified for lectureship eligibility as per the
qualifying criteria given below :-

 
|Category |Minimum Qualifying Percentage |
| |Paper-I|Paper-II |Paper-III |Aggregate |
|General |40 % |40 % |50 % |65 % |
|OBC (Non Creamy |35 % |35 % |45 % |60 % |
|Layer) | | | | |
|SC/ST/PWD |35 % |35 % |40 % |55 % |
ii) The Committee recommended that the NET Bureau may finalize the
JRF awardees as per the criteria mentioned above out of those
candidates who had opted for JRF and have qualified for lectureship
eligibility.
iii) The Committee authorized the Chairman, University Grants Commission
to declare the result for eligibility for lectureship and Junior
Research Fellowship as recommended by the Moderation Committee.
While concluding the deliberations, the Committee expressed the
appreciation for the painstaking effort of the NET Bureau in analyzing
the results and presenting its findings.

 

26. We notice, based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the
final results were declared and 43,974 candidates were declared qualified
for lectureship eligibility as per the qualifying criteria. As already
indicated, some more relaxation was also granted in favour of those persons
who got the minimum qualifying marks since those candidates figured amongst
the top 7% of all the candidates who appeared in NET, which was in addition
to the candidates declared as qualified in the original result declared on
18.9.2012. 15,178 candidates were benefitted by that relaxation.
Consequently, as already stated, a total of 57,550 candidates were declared
passed in the NET Exam. 2012.

27. We are of the considered opinion that all the steps taken by the UGC
were strictly in accordance with clause 7 of the Notification for the NET
Examination, 2012. Prescribing the qualifying criteria as per clause 7,
in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as it was
already pre-meditated in the notification. We are not inclined to say that
the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the candidates. The
UGC in exercise of its statutory powers and the laid down criteria in the
notification for NET June, 2012, has constituted a Moderation Committee
consisting of experts for finalising the qualifying criteria for
lectureship eligibility and JRF. UGC acted on the basis of the
recommendations made by the Expert Committee. The recommendations made by
them have already been explained in the earlier part of the judgment.
Reason for making such recommendations has also been highlighted in the
Report.

28. We are of the considered view that the candidates were not misled in
any manner. Much emphasis has been made on the words “clearing the
National Eligibility Test”. “Clearing” means clearing the final results,
not merely passing in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, which is only the
initial step, not final. To clear the NET Examination, as already
indicated, the candidate should satisfy the final qualifying criteria laid
down by the UGC before declaration of the results.

29. We are of the view that, in academic matters, unless there is a clear
violation of statutory provisions, the Regulations or the Notification
issued, the Courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall
within the domain of the experts. This Court in University of Mysore vs.
C.D. Govinda Rao, AIR 1965 SC 491, Tariq Islam vs. Aligarh Muslim
University (2001) 8 SCC 546 and Rajbir Singh Dalal vs. Chaudhary Devi Lal
University (2008) 9 SCC 284, has taken the view that the Court shall not
generally sit in appeal over the opinion expressed by expert academic
bodies and normally it is wise and safe for the Courts to leave the
decision of academic experts who are more familiar with the problem they
face, than the Courts generally are. UGC as an expert body has been
entrusted with the duty to take steps as it may think fit for the
determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and
research in the University. For attaining the said standards, it is open
to the UGC to lay down any “qualifying criteria”, which has a rational
nexus to the object to be achieved, that is for maintenance of standards of
teaching, examination and research. Candidates declared eligible for
lectureship may be considered for appointment as Assistant Professors in
Universities and colleges and the standard of such a teaching faculty has a
direct nexus with the maintenance of standards of education to be imparted
to the students of the universities and colleges. UGC has only implemented
the opinion of the Experts by laying down the qualifying criteria, which
cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative
of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

30. The Appeals are accordingly allowed and the judgment of the High
Court is set aside. The Applications for Impleadment and Intervention are
dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

..…………………………….J.
(K.S. Radhakrishnan)

 

 

…….………………………J.
(A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi,
September 19, 2013.

 

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