Several netizens in Odisha were on December 1 flummoxed when a notification popped up in their Facebook account saying that the name of a group on the social networking site they liked, earlier named as ‘Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) University’ has now been changed to ‘Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT)’. The word ‘university’ was ostensibly missing.
While many students studying at the premier college of Bhubaneswar simply ignored the notification, for many it evoked curiosity for the sudden change in name. Another institution in the state capital, the Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan University which owns the famous ITER college from the city, has also now lost the rights to use word ‘university’ after the name of their institution.
But it isn’t just KIIT or SOA in Odisha who can no longer use ‘university’ along with their institution name. All deemed universities of the country have been asked to refrain from using the word ‘university’ from their names, courtesy a major order of the Supreme Court. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been entrusted by the SC to ensure that the orders of the apex court are followed by all Indian deemed universities.
And, since the only deemed universities from Odisha include KIIT and SOA, as per the directive of the Supreme Court, they have lost the right like all Indian deemed universities to use the word ‘university’ with their names.
Why Supreme Court Did This?
The order directing the deemed universities to refrain from using the word ‘university’ is only a small part of the order which was passed by the apex court on November 3. The case pertaining to which the judgment was passed was actually related to the question if engineering degree should be allowed through distance mode as many deemed universities have flouted norms in the past and offered engineering through distance mode.
The whole controversy and the case emanated when a diploma holder in electrical engineering joined the Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation of India and while in service he acquired BTech (civil) degree from a deemed university named JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur through distance mode in 2009. In his plea in 2010 in Odisha High Court, the applicant sought promotion based on his new degree. The HC passed an order in favour of him. However, in a similar plea in the Punjab and Haryana HC, an order of opposite nature was passed.
The Supreme Court recently reviewed both the antagonistic orders and nullified the engineering degrees earned through distance mode. During the court hearings, matters relating to functioning of deemed universities were also raised. The court heavily clamped down on all deemed universities during the court hearing and ordered all deemed universities to refrain from using the word university.
The Exact Order
In the 118-page court order, the SC said, “1994 AICTE Regulations, do apply to Deemed to be Universities and the Deemed to be Universities in the present matter were not justified in introducing any new courses in Technical Education without the approval of AICTE.”
It also added, “The UGC is further directed to take appropriate steps and implement Section 23 of the UGC Act and restrain Deemed to be Universities from using the word ‘university’ within one month from today.”