The High Court of Bombay bench at Aurangabad passed a judgement on 30 May 2023. In the case of NIHAL ANANDRAO TANDEKAR VS THE NUCLEAR POWER CORPORATION OF INDIA AND ORS. IN WRIT PETITION NO.14319 OF 2023 which was passed by a single bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE G.S. KULKARNI, the court addressed a case concerning the eligibility criteria for a job application and the recognition of degrees awarded through distance education. The petitioner, who intended to apply for the position of Deputy Manager (C & MM), faced rejection of their application based on the contention that their MBA degree obtained from a distance learning institution was not acceptable. The court examined the issue and rendered an important decision that has far-reaching implications for the recognition of degrees awarded through distance education.


The petitioner possessed a graduation degree in engineering and an MBA degree in Materials Management obtained from Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University, Bhopal, a recognized distance education institution. However, their application was rejected by the respondent, who refused to acknowledge the petitioner’s distance education degree as a valid qualification for the position. The petitioner argued that there is no distinction between full-time degree courses and degrees awarded by open and distance learning institutions (ODL).


To support their contention, the petitioner’s counsel referred to a notification issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on October 14, 2013. This notification stated that degrees awarded by ODL institutions are at par with those awarded by conventional universities/institutions. Furthermore, the UGC circular dated May 5, 2004, explicitly mentioned that degrees awarded by open universities should be treated as equivalent to the corresponding degrees awarded by traditional universities in the country.


The court upheld the petitioner’s argument and emphasized that the UGC, as an expert body, has the authority to determine the equivalence of degrees. It acknowledged that degrees awarded by universities conducting full-time courses are now considered equal to those conferred by open universities under distance education, as recognized by the UGC. The respondent, through their counsel, agreed with this position and undertook to permit the petitioner to submit their application for the position.

The court accepted the respondent’s undertaking and disposed of the petition, directing the respondent to allow the petitioner to complete the necessary formalities for participation in the selection process. The participation of the petitioner, however, would be considered on its own merits by the respondent.


This judgment holds significant implications for the recognition and acceptance of degrees obtained through distance education. By acknowledging the UGC’s notification, the court affirms the equivalence of degrees awarded by distance education institutions and traditional universities. This decision ensures that candidates with degrees earned through distance education are not unjustly discriminated against in employment opportunities.

The judgment sets a precedent for other cases involving the recognition of distance education degrees. It reinforces the idea that the mode of education should not undermine the value or legitimacy of the degrees awarded. As long as the degrees are granted by recognized institutions and comply with UGC specifications, they should be considered on par with those obtained through conventional full-time courses.


The recent judgment exemplifies the court’s recognition of the equivalence of degrees awarded by distance education institutions. By relying on the UGC’s notification, the court has reaffirmed the importance of providing equal opportunities to candidates with degrees obtained through distance education. This decision serves as a crucial step towards ensuring that individuals pursuing education through non-traditional means are not disadvantaged in their professional pursuits. It also emphasizes the need for a progressive approach in recognizing the evolving landscape of education and the diverse modes of learning available to students.

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