Distance training mess

Recently Professor NR Madhava Menon, the founding Vice-Chancellor (VC) of my alma mater, the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata and one of the founders of the countrywide law university (NLU) challenge, passed away.

Few keep in mind that Professor Menon changed into additionally the writer of present-day policies governing open and distance learning (ODL) in India. Tragically, this legacy is being tarnished at NUJS, which has been a persistent violator of ODL rules of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and University Grants Commission (UGC) because of 2008.

The regulatory framework

ODL in India acquired impetus with the established order of IGNOU in 1985.

For nearly three many years thereafter, IGNOU had the twin position of functioning as an Open University and additionally discharging the role of the countrywide regulator of ODL guides thru its Distance Education Council (DEC).

Under the ‘Guidelines of DEC on Minimum Requirements for Recognition of ODL Institutions’ (DEC Guidelines), first published in 2006, universities had been required to cozy mandatory approvals to provide ODL and for each of the ODL guides that had been to be run. These DEC Guidelines were compulsorily relevant on all Universities, in phrases of the Supreme Court’s 2009 judgment in Annamalai.

Following the Supreme Court’s judgments in Yashpal and Annamalai, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in August 2010 constituted the Professor NR Madhava Menon Committee to propose measures for robust law of ODL.

In December 2012, UGC becomes appointed the countrywide regulator of ODL (nontechnical courses). To effectuate this, IGNOU’s DEC was dissolved and its regulatory features were transferred to UGC’s Distance Education Bureau (DEB). The DEB followed the DEC Guidelines to keep away from disruptions for the duration of the transition phase.

In 2016, the DEB counseled that each one on-line ODL guides had been being run without its permission and these guides cannot be run until new guidelines are formulated. Later, the UGC notified the UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017, and the UGC (Online Courses or Programmes) Regulations, 2018 (Online Regulations).

Recently, DEB’s Right to Information (RTI) response dated sixteen.04.2019 confirmed that no universities have been granted permission to run any online courses till the Online Regulations got here into impact in July 2018.

ODL courses run with the aid of NUJS

NUJS in no way had any approvals from the erstwhile IGNOU DEC or the UGC DEB for any of the ODL guides, however, it endured to run both offline (lacking approval) and online (blanketly prohibited) ones given that 2008.

When NUJS’ apolitical pupil frame, the Student Juridical Association (SJA) produced damning proof earlier than the 32nd NUJS Academic Council (AC), the participants resolved to straightaway droop all such publications. This became eventually ratified by way of the 61st NUJS Executive Council (EC), which had Justice Arun Mishra because of the then Chancellor’s nominee.

At the 61st EC, the space training mess has become the common subject matter for 3 separate inquiries; and the 62nd EC reiterated the ban following the SJA’s intervention and constituted a fourth, dedicated inquiry into the gap training mess, which NUJS is yet to even convene.

There is also evidence to signify that one of those allegedly concerned, Ms. Vaneeta Patnaik is a founding Director in Effulgent Educators LLP, which sought to run a certificates direction in association with NUJS. Interestingly, Ms. Patnaik made no disclosures regarding her affiliation with Effulgent Educators LLP to the University at any point in time despite being a member (both present and balloting) of the 29th AC and the 55th EC conferences – whilst the problem of her Effulgent Educators LLP was discussed.

This is to be specifically investigated through one of the aforesaid inquiries, as according to the 61st EC.

Subsequent (In)motion

Based at the evidence offered by using the SJA, the sixtieth and 61st ECs effected an administrative rinse that delivered in a new Vice-Chancellor (Acting), Registrar (Acting) and Assistant Registrar (Administration).

To the scholars, it regarded that the Augean stables of NUJS would, in the end, get wiped clean under the watch of a venerable, retired choose of Calcutta High Court, Justice (Retd) Amit Talukdar. However, it’s miles now an open mystery that the aforesaid EC-instituted inquiries have gone nowhere.

While NUJS tiptoes around the gap training imbroglio, it faces diverse civil and arbitration fits in the Calcutta and Delhi High Courts. Despite orders from the EC, Professor Anirban Mazumdar, Director, School of Distance and Mass Education (SDME), fobbed off the obligation to correspond with distance training students on spurious “non-public” grounds.