From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : Lawyers in Delhi and some state capitals
struck work on January 20 on a Bar Council of India's
call for strike in protest against the National
Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER)
bill which, they claim, will take away the powers of the
council to hear complaints against lawyers.
They were protesting against Higher Education and
Research Bill, 2011, and Legal Practitioners Bill 2010.
They say, these bills will take over the authority
of the BCI. The strike paralysed proceedings at all six
district court complexes in Delhi. A group of lawyers
even went inside special CBI court holding trial in the
2G scam and requested prosecution and defence counsel to
stop the proceedings.
“Government wants to make the BCI redundant as it has
been opposing several anti-people measures of the
government, including allowing entry of
foreign lawyers,“ said Rajiv Khosla, spokesperson of the
coordination committee of All District Court Bar
Associations of Delhi.
M K Mishra, convenor of the steering committee of Bar
Council said, a joint meeting of the chairmen of all
state bar councils of the country, leaders of all bar
associations of Delhi and Bar Council of India will be
held on January 23. “By introducing the bill, HRD
minister Kapil Sibal wants to undermine the
authority of elected bodies of advocates and he wants to
impose his supremacy,“ Mishra said.
Sibal, too, has called a meeting of BCI members on
In Chennai the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association led by
S. Prabarakan took out a procession on the High Court
premises and held a demonstration against the proposed
legislation. Mr. Prabakaran said that the Bill proposed
to take away the duties and functions entrusted to the
BCI and the State Bar Councils.
Reports from Dehra Dun said that “Around 1,000 lawyers
and advocates joined the agitation in Dehradun.”
Prithviraj Chauhan, chairman, Bar Council of Uttarakhand,
said that a delegation headed by Anil Gandhi, general
secretary, Bar Association of Dehradun, met City
Magistrate Manmohan Bisht and submitted a memorandum
requesting the Central Government not to allow foreign
law firms in India.
The BCI call for strike was given on January 9 by BCI chairperson Ashok K. Parija
who urged lawyers throughout the country
to stay out of courts on January 20 to protest
against the new education super-regulator proposed by
the MHRD in the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011
tabled in Rajya Sabha on December 28.
Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011
tabled in Rajya Sabha, seeks
to set up an overarching national body to regulate all
streams of higher, vocational, technical and
professional education, except medicine and agriculture.
However, the proposed National Commission for Higher
Education and Research (NCHER) will frame guidelines on
research in medicine.
The Law Ministry sees the legislation as an attempt by the
MHRD to impose the regulator on
it. Under the existing system, the BCI deals with Law
education and professional standards under the Advocates
Lawyers fear the proposed super-regulator would erode the independence of the bar and
eventually of the judicial system. “We will not accept
this bill in any form,” Parija said.
Parija said the BCI, which recognises legal
professionals throughout the country, had time
and again conveyed to the Law Ministry its objections to
the proposals but its concerns were not heeded. He said
the council would submit a memorandum to law minister Salman Khurshid. The minister, he added, has
assured them of a sympathetic hearing.
Parija claimed the bar council recognises a law college
only after the state university concerned had granted it
affiliation, and said the BCI’s legal
education committee was more broad-based than the one
proposed in the education bill.
The BCI chairperson said the proposed committee would
include bureaucrats and academics, according to the
bill’s provisions, whereas the bar council
committee had senior advocates as well as distinguished
judges. “Which one is better?” he asked.
men make NCHER Bill palatable for CABE
By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI : With just a fortnight left to go for the
important CABE meeting, minister Kapil Sibal has coaxed
the Human Resource Development Ministry to work overtime
and help redraft the National
Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill so
as to make it acceptable to all states.
The redrafted draft of the Bill was discussed and
debated on May 29 at a special meeting of about 50
select people called by Mr Kapil Sibal -- including the
task force members -- and at the end of the day the
basic issues still remained unresolved leaving an
embarrassed minister to say that the final “decision
will be of the government at the highest level.”
Speaking to reporters at the end of a day-long
discussion on the NCHER Bill Sibal said the bill was the
property of the task force. The government could change
its title and take the final call.
The Bill, now renamed Higher Education and Research Bill
2010, got wide support for the inclusion of medical
education within the purview of the proposed National
Commission for Higher Education and Research.
Speaking at the meeting the Task Force member N R
Madhava Menon, strongly pleaded the inclusion of medical
education in the NCHER. Menon, the NCHER crusader,
said that even Law education and agriculture education should be
brought under it. Menon said that since there was a
constitutional impediment in bringing agriculture under
NCHER, “the government should bring an amendment” for
The other Task Force members also cited several reports
on higher education —- Radhakrishnan Committee, Kothari
Commission, Yashpal Committee and National Knowledge
Commission -— which favoured bringing all forms of
higher education under one body.
Sibal, who chaired and coordinated the meeting however, made it clear that his ministry was not
yet associated with the recommendations of the task
force. The ministry, he said, would come into the
picture only after consultations in the Central Advisory
Board of Education (CABE) were over and the bill was
The meeting discussed the draft of the Bill and keeping
in view the federal structure of the constitution
smoothened some of the irritants to which the states
were particularly hostile. To make its appearance more
acceptable, the word "national" has been dropped from
its name, making it simple -- Higher Education and
Secondly the provision on vice-chancellor's appointment
has been diluted. Now the states will be free to pick a
vice-chancellor from outside the directory maintained of
the MHRD but it would be mandatory for the Central
universities to "pick up names from the directory,” said
Prof Goverdhan Mehta, a Task Force member.
The provision had drawn maximum criticism from the
states, particularly, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Kerala,
Karnataka, Gujarat et al who felt the Centre was
all out to monopolise the appointment of
vice-chancellors in the states.
Another crucial deviation is the creation of an all-new
General Council within the ambit of the Bill. With
representatives from every state/UT, this council will
have the power to veto Commission’s decisions by a
two-third majority. “This is a welcome addition to the
old draft which was too centralised. We would, however,
want the council to perform the main role and the NCHER
to be an executor,” Dr K N Panikkar, vice-chairman,
Kerala State Higher Education Council told
Academics-India. Panikkar, a bitter critic of the
old draft, described the reworked version as “substantially
Another relaxation the Task Force has granted to states
pertains to functional authorisation, which any new
university awarding degrees would need to obtain from
the NCHER. Under the old draft, the NCHER could refuse
authorisation even after the university received a
positive assessment report from an accreditation agency.
“Now the commission will have to grant the
declaration if the assessment report is fine,” said a
The new draft further seeks control of education as a
whole including medical, legal and agricultural despite
the Health Ministry’s resistance to the move. The Task
Force has recommended a constitutional amendment to
include agricultural education under the NCHER,
agriculture being a state subject at present.
The task force decided to set up an ‘informal' committee
of four eminent persons that would study the drafts of
the NCHER and National Council for Human Resource in
Health (NCHRH) bills to ensure that there was no
overlap. The committee will be comprised of Srinath
Reddy and Ranjit Roy Choudhary (both members of the
NCHER task force) and M.K. Bhan and Syeda Hamid,
both members of the NCHRH task force.
Mr. Sibal said that the inputs received at the
consultation would be taken into account while
finalising the draft NCHER bill before it was placed
before the CABE. After the CABE approved it, the draft
Bill would be sent to the government.
force doesn't want NCHER to repeat UGC flaws
By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI: The task force set up to suggest
improvements in the Bill on
National Commission for Higher Education and Research
(NCHER) wants a separate body for higher education
funding, sparing NCHER to focus on policy making,
excellence and quality control.
"Let us not repeat the UGC flaws", said a senior member
of the task force who preferred to remain anonymous.
This fact was also confirmed by a senior Ministry
official who said that most of the task force members
were in favour of having a separate body for higher
education funding leaving NCHER to focus on regulating
the institutions and framing policies for them. It
should not be involved in providing funds to
institutions as specified in the earlier draft bill,
official source said.
The task force which has been holding meetings in all
important cities finally met here on May 11 to complete
the draft of the NCHER bill which is likely to be placed
before Parliament in the monsoon session. Most of its
members felt that the service delivery should be
separated from policy making.
The task force comprises people like former IIT Madras
director M Anandkrishnan, Planning Commission member
Sayeeda Hamid, social scientist Mrinal Miri and senior
chemistry professor Govardhan Mehta.
Introducing changes to the earlier draft, the task force
said that the NCHER, to enjoy the powers of a civil
court, should focus only on framing policies and
ensuring quality in the colleges and universities across
the country. It should not be involved in providing
funds to institutions as specified in the earlier draft,
official sources said.
The draft bill had initially entrusted these
responsibilities with the NCHER, which would replace
existing regulatory bodies like UGC, All India Council
of Technical Education and National Council for
The task force also took note of the concerns raised by
some states including Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu
and Karnataka on a few key clauses in the bill.
The bill provisions opposed by states included the need
for a new university to get an NCHER authorisation to
start functioning and the appointment of
vice-chancellors from a national registry. The registry
would be maintained by NCHER, based on recommendations
of ‘eligible persons’ collegium, to aid the Commission
for coordination and promotion of higher education. The
universities could choose their pick from the five names
in the registry that the NCHER suggested for any
vacancies of vice-chancellors.
The task force members referred to the Supreme Court
judgement in the case of
Yashpal & Others verses State of Chhattisgarh & Others
in which the court said that the Central law or
regulation of an agency created under a Central law will
be final and binding on education matters.
But after the objections raised by some states, the task
force said that the condition of appointment from the
registry would be mandatory only for Central
universities. The State universities would be free to
appoint vice-chancellors as per their regulations. But
the NCHER collegium will scrutinise the appointment.
The government would further discuss the bill with the
Central Advisory Board of Education, the highest
advisory body on education matters, on June 18 and 19,
the official source said.
Foreign Educational Institution Bill, 2010
From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : On March 15 the Union cabinet approved
the bill that would open up country’s education sector
to foreign educators and investment.
The Bill, called Foreign Educational Institution
(Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, seeks to
allow foreign education providers to set up campuses and
offer degrees. HRD Ministry sources say the bill would
be introduced in the Lok Sabha when the House meets
after recess on April 12.
“This is a milestone which will enhance choices,
increase competition and benchmark quality. A revolution
larger than the one in the telecom sector awaits the
education sector," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said after
the Bill got Cabinet's assent.
Like private universities in the country, the foreign
ones too -- whether private or state-owned -- won't have
to implement scheduled caste and OBC quotas. There will
also be no state-imposed restriction on the fees they
The Foreign Universities Bill, 2010, has been pending
for the last four years owing to opposition from various
quarters, including the Left parties, over certain
provisions. Last year, it was referred to a Committee of
Secretaries which modified certain provisions.
The Bill was approved by the Cabinet on Monday, presided
over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, without any
change. It prescribes an eight-month, time-bound
schedule for granting approval to foreign educational
institutions. They will go through different levels of
registration process during this period. Finally, they
will be registered with the proposed National Commission
for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) which will
screen the proposals as per India's priorities and
advise the government whether to allow it to operate in
Though 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment
through automatic route is permitted in the education
sector since 2002, India does not allow granting of
degrees by foreign institutions. The new law is expected
to facilitate foreign institutes to participate in higher
A foreign university aspiring to set up a campus in
India will have to deposit Rs 50 crore as corpus fund.
Provisions of Section 25 of the Companies Act will be
applicable and these institutes will not be allowed to
take the profit back and will have to spend the amount
for further expansion of the institutions here.
Foreign education providers will be allowed to take part
in other activities like consultancy projects.
The cabinet has rejected a key recommendation of the
Committee of Secretaries. The bill allowed the
regulatory authority — the proposed NCHER — to exempt
select foreign universities from most provisions. The
committee had opposed this clause and had recommended
that it be dropped as it could lead to institutions
alleging bias towards varsities granted the exemption.
However the cabinet decided to retain this clause, which
means that the NCHER will have the power to exempt
Harvard, for instance, from most clauses of the bill.
Three other reforms bills, which were slated to be taken
up in the Cabinet, were deferred to the next meeting.
These are :
The Foreign Education Providers Bill
The Educational Tribunal Bill
The Accreditation Bill
The Prohibition of
Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical,
Medical Educational Institutions and Universities
Amendments to Architects Act
Though the Educational Malpractices Bill was not on the
Cabinet agenda, sources said the ministry is working to
ensure that it finds place in next Cabinet's
supplementary agenda. Of the four new Bills, three
related to accreditation, malpractices and tribunal were
earlier referred by the Cabinet to an eight-member Group
of Ministers which has cleared all of them.
The Malpractices Bill has a list of 25 educational
malpractices and any institute found indulging in them
can attract a hefty fine and sentence of up to three
years. The malpractices include demanding capitation
fee, giving wrong information about faculty and
facilities, overcharging students through information
brochure, non-transparent admission procedure and other
such related activities.
The amendment in the Architects Act seeks to take away
academic functions from the Council of Architecture and
limits it only to controlling the profession.