In a significant verdict,the Delhi High Court today ruled that Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has no “legal authority” either to set up or accord recognition to an institution or college to impart “face-to-face” regular education. IGNOU,set up in 1985 to promote distance education,was dragged to court by various institutions,including Hindustan Aviation Academy,which were first allowed by the University to run B Tech and Diploma programme courses in the area of Aerospace Engineering. However,IGNOU later noticed that its approval to run “face-to-face” programme did not not meet legal requirements and asked the approved institutes to keep the admission process at abeyance.
IGNOU also noticed that the necessary prior approval from AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) for running such courses was also not taken. Disposing of a bunch of petitions of institutions,Justice V K Jain said,”(since) IGNOU had no legal authority to set up or recognise institutions/colleges on the lines of regular colleges where education is imparted by way of face-to-face programmes,requiring students to mandatorily attend classes,the petitioners’ institutes cannot be said to be institutions,constituent colleges,units or affiliated colleges of IGNOU,nor can they be said the ‘study centres’ within the meaning of the IGNOU Act.”
The court also rapped IGNOU for not informing students about its decision to suspend admission for academic years 2012-13. It also said that the university also did not follow the principles of natural justice while restraining institutes from taking admissions as no show cause notice was served on them in this regard. The court,in its 37-page judgement,said,”The respondent university is clearly guilty of gross negligence and inaction. No attempt was taken by it to ensure that students who in the absence of public notice from the university,could not be expected to be aware of its decision to suspend admission for the academic years 2012-13,did not pay fees to petitioners’ institutes and did not take admission.”