UGC regulations do not confer on UGC any right to fix high marks

The Kerala High Court on Monday quashed the new qualifying criteria prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) after holding the National Eligibility Test (NET) for lectureships.

Allowing a batch of writ petitions challenging the new criteria, Justice P.R. Ramachandran Nair held that the UGC regulations did not confer any right on the UGC to fix high marks after holding of the NET. Nor could such criteria be introduced just before the announcement of the results by executive orders. The introduction of the new criteria was not supported by the law.

The new criteria had prescribed that candidates in the general category, who had scored an aggregate of 65 per cent for all three papers, would be eligible for lectureship while OBC category candidates needed 60 per cent and the marks for candidates in the SC/ST category was 55 per cent

The court added that the students were jolted when all of a sudden the UGC prescribed the percentage of the aggregate marks. The adoption of such norms at the final stage and just before the declaration of the results had affected the candidates.

The court said that assuming that the UGC had the power to alter the minimum marks, it should have been done in a fair and reasonable manner and not whimsically. The change of the cut-off marks at the final stage violated Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law).

The court also declared that the petitioners, who had obtained the separate minimum marks prescribed in the UGC notification, had cleared the NET. The court also ordered that they should be issued the necessary certificate in a month.

‘Preserve answer sheets’

The court had earlier directed the UGC not to destroy the answer sheets of the NET.

The petitioners said that UGC had no authority to fix any aggregate minimum for a pass in the test.