National University of Juridical Studies, NUJS, a premier national law university located in Kolkata, abruptly shut down its online courses, refused to issue certificates to over 3500 students in 2018 claiming that their own online courses in which they admitted thousands of students are actually illegal due to lack of UGC recognition for these courses. When students sued the university, the university claimed before Calcutta High Court that its hands are tied as these courses are not recognized by UGC and therefore not eligible for issuing certificates.
Since then, NUJS did not offer any online courses, until 2021, when it has launched several online courses although it has not received any recognition for offering online courses. The list of universities recognized by UGC for offering online and distance courses is available on UGC website and the name of NUJS does not feature there. NUJS has not claimed anywhere that they have received recognition from UGC for offering online courses either, and have tried to sidestep this issue by invoking the name of the Ministry of Law and Justice. The matter of fact is that the Ministry of Law and Justice does not recognize any courses, and UGC recognition is necessary to launch any online courses as per UGC regulations.
NUJS has caused suffering to thousands of students in the past, and is repeating the same by starting similar new courses without recognition.
Here are the essentials you need to know:
1.WBNUJS has invited applications for its Online Certificate Courses on Business and Commercial laws by its notification dated 23.03.2021.
2.While advertising for this online course, WBNUJS is representing that it is offering this 3 months’ online certificate course offered “in accordance with the advice provided by the Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, for the benefit of practitioners and other graduate professionals from any discipline involved with the Commercial Courts.”
3.It is pertinent to mention here that earlier through its 27th June 2018 notification, WBNUJS had abruptly stopped all its online courses affecting almost 3500 Students claiming that it cannot offer online courses due to lack of UGC recognition. As the affected students filed writs against WBNUJS, the university took a stand in written pleadings that “grant of interim order being stay on the decision of the Executive Council for forthwith stopping on-line courses being without any UGC recognition, is continuance of illegality and thereby same requires to be vacated.”
4.WBNUJS has further pleaded in its vacating application that, the students who had already completed their courses prior to their notification or have registered for the online courses before June 2018 notification, have no rights to claim certificates unless the same is permissible under law, the argument reads as follows: “It is stated that subsequently, university grants commission(UGC) (Open and Distance Learning) Regulation, 2017 also came into operation, UGC’s earlier notification dated 17.06.2013 was covering the field. It is stated that the WBNUJS has never sought for any recognition from the University Grants Commission, for running and/or starting on-line courses. Accordingly, there was no recognition for On-line courses by University grants Commission. Moreover, even for seeking to start online courses, vide regulation 3(1)(viii) of the University Grants Commission (Open and Distance Learning Education) Regulations, 2017 require a valid accreditation from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in addition to eligibility of , “has completed all five years of its existence”. The WBNUJS does not have those requirements. In this regard, it is most respectfully submitted that the petitioners cannot claim any certificate unless the same is permissible under law. Accordingly, there is no such legal right on the part of the petitioners to seek any interim order which itself would be an act of continuance of illegality.”
5. The University still does not have any recognition of its online courses from UGC, but is offering them without any recognition. The question is, how can it offer new courses again when they have refused to issue certificates to students who have finished their courses in the past on the ground that the university does not have UGC recognition for these courses and it would be illegal to provide certificates? Either the University was wrong in its submissions to the court, and withdraw those submissions and agree to give certificate to previous students of online courses, or it is currently committing illegality by offering these online courses.