The fate of 44 deemed universities, which hangs in the balance, due to be decried unfit by a high-powered review committee of the HRD ministry, is to be decided by the Supreme Court soon. However, a close examination of files accessed through RTI reveals how during the five years of Arjun Singh's tenure from 2004-09, the HRD ministry and UGC flouted all norms and distributed out deemed status.
According to a report published in The Times of India, the investigation showed that 3 broad modus operandi were used to grant deemed status to the universities -:
1. In many cases the directive to accelerate granting of deemed
status came directly from the minister and his office even before
the mandatory process could be put in motion. Institutes which come
under this category are - Jaypee Institute of Information
Technology, Manav Rachna, Nehru Gram Bharati, Saveetha Institute of
Medical Sciences, Maharishi Markandeshwar University.
2. In this case there were two situations. One, the approval of
state government, a necessary condition, was not adhered to in
granting the deemed status to the universities. Two, in case of
difference of opinion between expert committees of UGC and All India Council for Technical Education on
the issue of granting deemed status, the HRD ministry always sided with the former. Institutes
which fall under this category are - Siddhartha Education Society,
Lingaya's Institute of Management & Technology, Vignan's
Foundations for Science, Technology & Research, Graphic Era
3. Both ministry and UGC also exploited the de novo category, meant to acknowledge emerging areas of knowledge. By taking the de novo route, new institutes could avoid the requirement of 10 years to become a deemed university. But UGC/HRD was not always fair in its dealing. For e.g. Shobhit Institute of Engineering & Technology got deemed status not for starting any innovative course but for planning to launch bio-medical engineering, bio-informatics and agri-informatics.
This misuse of de novo category was criticized by many officials and joint secretaries. The HRD ministry itself was never short of innovative methods to grant approvals. Like if any senior official raised an objection over the deemed university, wait for him to go on leave or official tour and then clear the proposal. Take the case of Santosh World Medical Academy. The joint secretary made it clear that the proposal was not in order. He also pointed out that UGC's report about the institute is at variance with the earlier report. But the objection did not come in the way as the ministry cleared the proposal when the official was on tour.