HRD Ministry to respond to Karunanidhi’s plea

Anita Joshua

NEW DELHI: Over a year after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi asked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to amend the Constitution to bring “education” back into the State List from the Concurrent List, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to formulate a response.

According to the Chief Minister, the inclusion of “education” in the Concurrent List has to a “great extent immobilised the action of the State government in regulating admission to professional institutions in the State.”

Though the Ministry is yet to firm up its mind on Mr. Karunanidhi’s letter, the dominant view is that the current arrangement has worked well since 1976 and should not be disturbed.

As for the issue of deemed universities — whose refusal to accept any diktat from the State government was the immediate provocation for the letter — the Ministry pointed out that a provision had been made to factor in the State government’s views before granting deemed-to-be-university status to any applicant institution under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act.

Mr. Karunanidhi wrote to the Prime Minister in this regard on September 11, 2006, after a stand-off between the managements of deemed-to-be-universities and the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) over the latter’s directive that no technical institution, including deemed universities, should run technical courses without its approval.

However, managements of deemed-to-be-universities took the position that they were bound only by the rules and regulations of the UGC. “While the institutions affiliated to the universities of the State are bound to follow the admission procedure and fee structure laid down by the universities/State government, the State has no control whatsoever even in admission matters of the deemed-to-be-universities,” Mr. Karunanidhi pointed out.

Also, he cited instances of higher education-related laws introduced by the State governments being struck down by the court for the reason that “the State government has no competence to enact such a legislation because of the existence of Central laws on the subject.”

As a case in point, he referred to Tamil Nadu’s legislation of 2006 abolishing the Common Entrance Test for admission to professional courses for students taking the Standard XII examination conducted by the State Board of Secondary Education.

This Act was later struck down by the Madras High Court as “unconstitutional.”

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