The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has decided to issue showcause notices to 44 universities as to why they should not be stripped of their “deemed” status after individually offering them sufficient opportunity to be heard.

In an additional affidavit, the Union HRD Ministry also said it had independent powers to derecognise the deemed universities for their lapses and was not bound by any contrary suggestion or advice given by the UGC.

“The institutions deemed to be universities, which prima facie do not deserve to retain their status as deemed to be universities, as recommended by the review committee, will each be communicated the shortcomings found against them and will be afforded an opportunity to show cause why their declaration as institutions deemed to be universities should not be revoked by the government.

“After receipt of their reply and due consideration thereof, the government will pass an appropriate order in each case. All this will be done within a reasonable time frame,” the affidavit said.

On January 25, the Supreme Court had directed the Union government to maintain status quo on the 44 deemed universities facing derecognition for not being upto the standard.

The Centre also submitted in sealed cover reports of the high-powered review committee and the task force that has recommended derecognition of the 44 varsities for failing to meet the required students.

Referring to Section 3 of the UGC Act, the Union government said the advice given by the UGC for granting deemed status to a university is not binding on it as is being made out by the aggrieved universities.

The aggrieved universities had taken the stand before the apex court that they were neither given sufficient opportunity nor the UGC consulted them before taking a decision to strip them of the deemed status. They further argued that under the UGC Act it was the autonomous commission, which had granted the deemed status and hence it alone has the power to derecognise the varsities.

“The discretion lies with the government whether or not to accept a positive advice of the Commission. University Grants Commission is an expert body created by Parliament for determination of academic standards in universities. It may be stated that if the Commission advises against the fitness of an institution to be declared a ‘deemed to be university’, the Central government does not usually disregard that advice.

“On the other hand, notwithstanding a positive advice regarding the fitness of institution for declaration as a ‘deemed to be university’ the government may, on reasonable grounds, reject such positive advice and refuse to declare the institution in question as a ‘deemed to be university’,” the Centre said.

Reiterating that the interests of two lakh students studying in these 44 varsities would be protected, the Centre said “all pre-existing colleges not found suitable for the status of deemed to be university should revert to status quo ante as affiliated colleges of state universities of jurisdiction,” to enable them complete their courses.