The new Maharashtra Public Universities Act may finally see the light of day as the final draft of the Bill will be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the legislature in December. A 21-member legislative committee headed by Education Minister Vinod Tawde, which was assigned the task to scrutinise the draft Bill, Wednesday concluded that it was ready to be tabled in the legislature.
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According to Tawde, the committee will table its report along with the new draft, wherein certain changes have been incorporated by the committee. The committee, comprising representatives of major political parties, was set up to scrutinise the draft of the Bill, proposed in 2011, that will govern all non-agricultural universities in the state. The draft will finally be tabled in the legislature this year and the Act will be revised for the first time in two decades.
While Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh, who had told The Indian Express that the new draft may not be valid in the next five years, said he had not seen the draft approved by the committee, other stakeholders hoped that the new Act will bring back the democratic functioning of universities. Tapati Mukhopadhyay, president of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, said, “The new Act should ensure representation of teachers, principals, management and graduates proportionate to their numbers.”
Student union elections may also see a comeback with the new Act. The Act, if passed, will set in motion several administrative and management bodies of several universities in the state that have been deemed redundant for over a year. Last year in August, the state government had asked universities to halt elections to its statutory bodies after their term ended. In the University of Mumbai, bodies such as the senate, the grievance committee and management council have not been able to function.
“The grievance committee is an important body to address students’ problems. Several cases have not been heard and other decisions taken by the committee earlier have not been implemented,” said Subhash Athawale, president of Mumbai University and College Teachers Association.
If the Act is passed, bodies such as the Board of College and University Development, the Board of Examination can function better, said Athawale, adding the Act will give the University some power over affiliated colleges. “In the absence of an Act, there was no control over newly affiliated colleges.”