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Educationists play a significant role in the cases of education than the courts- SC

In the case of Anand Yadav & Ors. V. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2850 OF 2020), the Supreme court held that the matters of education must be left to educationists, of course, subject to being governed by the relevant statutes and regulations. The judgment was given by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari.

The facts of the case initiated with a dispute in Advertisement No. 46, which was issued by respondent No. 2, the Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Service Selection Commission (for short ‘UPHESSC’) in March 2014. The advertisement was an invitation applications for the post of Assistant Professors in various subjects, including ‘Education’.  The candidature of appellant No. 2 was rejected on the ground that he was unable to fulfill the minimum criteria which were set out by the University Grants Commission (for short ‘UGC’), respondent No. 4, although he was an M.Ed. Degree holder. This caused the said appellant to approach the High Court by filing Writ-A No. 61 of 2015. However, the process in pursuance of the aforesaid advertisement was nearly completed while the writ petition was still pending, and in the meantime a subsequent advertisement, i.e., Advertisement No. 47 of 2016 was issued. This was once again for the post of Assistant Professor in various subjects, including hundred posts in ‘Education’ in Government aided non-Government universities. The twin criteria specified as the eligibility, was again the same :

“(a) the requirement of a 55 per cent score in a relevant subject at the Post Graduate Level or with a similar scoring in relation to grades wherever there is a grading system; and

 (b) passing marks in the National Eligibility Test (for short ‘NET’), or U.P. State Level Eligibility Test (for short ‘SET’), or State Level Eligibility Test (for short ‘SLET’) as conducted by UGC.”

Thus the question of dispute was:

(a) “would an M.Ed. Degree be treated as an equivalent degree to M.A. (Education) for the purposes of appointment to the post of Assistant Professor?”

(b) “even if it was treated as an equivalent, could it be said that an M.Ed. is a post-graduation in the relevant subject?”

The court in this case had held “We must, at the inception, express our reservation about the manner in which the writ petition was filed and a decision was taken in the impugned order of the High Court without even calling upon the relevant authorities, i.e., the UGC and the NCTE to put forth their stand. The first authority is undisputedly the one to determine and specify the nomenclature of degrees, while the second is the authority of teacher education. Whatever has been the earlier position, as is sought to be relied upon, of the Gujarat High Court, the same is no more in doubt. A decision based in the absence of concerned authorities is likely to and has caused confusion. We are also of the view that affected candidates, or at least some of them in a representative capacity, were bound to be heard and no decision could have been taken behind the back of these candidates.

The stand put forth before us by the UGC/respondent No. 4 is unequivocal in its terms that M.Ed. degree is indeed a master’s degree in Education in terms of the notification issued by it under the UGC Act in terms of Section 22. In that sense, the matter is put to rest in terms of recognition of M.Ed. as a post-graduate degree by the competent authority.”

The question of equivalence, as submitted by respondent No.4/UGC was to be left to the NCTE.  It is in view thereof that NCTE was added as a party (respondent No. 5) and has, once again, put forth its position quite unequivocally. The NCTE has drawn a distinction between the two degrees to the extent that while M.A. (Education) is a degree in the discipline of Education, the M.Ed. degree is a practitioner’s degree. Reference has also been made to a Committee constituted in pursuance of the impugned judgment, which is an expert committee. In view of the recognition of the M.Ed. programme of one-year duration, in order to acquire an M.Ed. degree, one has to spend two years after the first degree because for an M.Ed. degree, a B.Ed. degree is mandatory. It is in these circumstances a conclusion was reached that, from the point of view of duration and curricular inputs, M.Ed. qualifies itself as a master’s programme in Education and is even recognised by the UGC and NCTE as such. In a sense this puts to rest one of the controversies raised by respondent No. 3, i.e., initially M.Ed. was a one-year programme, and only subsequently converted into a two-years programme in 2015, as this very issue has been examined by an expert committee of the NCTE, and the NCTE concluded in favour of the appellants. There is also a categorical statement in the last paragraph of the counter affidavit of the NCTE to the effect that the M.Ed. is a master’s degree recognised by apex bodies like the UGC and NCTE for appointment as Assistant Professor in Education and they are also eligible for the NET/SLET/JRF.

We say so in view of the fact that matters of education must be left to educationists, of course subject to being governed by the relevant statutes and regulations.  It is not the function of this Court to sit as an expert body over the decision of the experts, especially when the experts are all eminent people as apparent from the names as set out.  This aspect has received judicial imprimatur even earlier and it is not that we are saying something new.  We may refer to the pronouncement in Zahoor Ahmad Rather & Ors.10 in this behalf which has dealt with the dual aspects: (a) it is for the employer to consider what functionality of qualification and content of course of studies would lead to the acquisition of an eligible qualification, and (b) such matters must be left to educationists.”

We are, thus, of the view that the impugned judgment is not sustainable and has to be set aside, and the challenge to the corrigendum dated 11.7.2016 is repelled.  The result having already been computed and awaiting declaration should now be declared forthwith so that persons looking for employment, as per the requisite eligibility criteria, can be employed, and so that the students have the benefit of education from the persons so employed. The appeal is accordingly allowed, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.”

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