The Supreme Court (SC) in a recent order has stated that the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Distance Education Council (DEC) have no authority over any university offering programmes through distance mode.
The apex court said this while hearing a Special Leave Petition (SLP) by IGNOU and DEC against the Himachal High Court ruling in March 2006, in reference to Punjab Technical University (PTU)’s study centres outside Punjab. The SC ruled in favour of PTU.
According to Vikas Chopra, counsel for PTU, Jalandhar, IGNOU sought relief against the high court order claiming that PTU was not authorised to run distance education courses outside the state of Punjab and all universities including PTU come under the purview of IGNOU as far as matters conÂ¬nected with distance education are concerned.
The apex court in its ruling said that distance education has to run at a distance and it was not correct on the part of IGNOU to stop any university from offering such courses since it is helping a large number of students. The court also questioned that in case a student in Delhi wanted to take admission in a course offered by PTU, how can any other university such as IGNOU or council like DEC stop the student from pursuing the course? It highlighted the fact that if foreign universities can offer their courses in India then why not PTU.
Welcoming the SC’s decision, S H Ansari, chairman, department of distance learning, Jamia Hamdard, said: “As of now DEC legally has no constitutional right to control distance education. But we would like DEC to be an independent body like the Medical Council of India and I believe in the time to come DEC will be empowered to control distance education directly. As far as IGNOU is concerned, it is also an university and canÂ¬not have any authority over other universities. The controlling body for any university is the University Grants Commission (UGC).”