University Laws Bills passed

The Assembly on Thursday passed the University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the University Laws (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2021, even as the Opposition boycotted the discussion after accusing the Legislative Secretariat of partisanship while considering proposals for amendments.

The Bills which had been referred to the Subject Committee earlier sought to enhance coordination between the State Government and universities. Among other provisions, the law will pave way for the creation of an inter-university consultative committee which will consider matters that mutually affect both the government and universities, and are meant to be resolved at the government-level, Higher Education Minister R. Bindu said.

The panel will be chaired by the Pro Chancellor and include Vice Chancellors and the Secretary in-charge of Higher Education Department. Provisions relating to constitution of various statutory bodies autonomous colleges also find place.

In response to criticisms that an increased role for universities could undermine the academic autonomy of such institutions, Dr. Bindu said that several drawbacks were seen in the functioning of autonomous colleges since 2014. Besides, there had been instances of harassment and natural justice being denied.

“Autonomy should ideally be granted after an institution attains superior academic quality and is capable of standing on its own, and not vice versa as promoted by the Centre,” she said.

The laws will also enable universities to give shape to common examination and academic calendars. They will also pave way for the constitution of an Appellate Tribunal to redress complaints in higher education institutions, including autonomous colleges. A former judge of the High Court or a former judicial officer not below the rank of district judge can be appointed to the position.

The discussion was held after the Opposition staged a walkout after accusing the Legislature Secretariat of riding roughshod over numerous changes proposed by them. Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan alleged that the decisions of the secretariat were influenced by political interests.

According to him, 600-odd notices for amendments to the Bills had been rejected in an “unprecedented manner”. Claiming that the rights of Opposition were curtailed, he alleged efforts to replicate the purported manner by which the Narendra Modi administration at the Centre conducted legislative business in Parliament.

However, Speaker M.B. Rajesh dismissed the allegations and maintained that a deadline had been imposed for submitting the notices in view of the time constraints.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 7:58:30 AM |

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