Supreme Court Judgement on UGC NET Exam June 2012 Results on Fixing Eligibility Criteria


A bench, headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, said courts shall not interfere in matters of education unless there is a violation of statutory provisions

The Supreme Court Thursday upheld the University Grant Commission’s policy for fixing eligibility criteria for candidates to qualify the National Eligibility Test (NET), saying it is not “arbitrary and illegal”.

A bench, headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, said courts shall not interfere in matters of education unless there is a violation of statutory provisions and it is open to the UGC to lay down any qualifying criteria.

Few Points From Supreme Courts Judgement Copy

23. UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred under clauses (e) and (g) of Section 26(1) of the UGC Act, issued the UGC (Minimum Qualification of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and other measures for Maintenance of Standards of Higher Education) Regulations, 2010. Clause 3.3.1 of the Regulation specifically states the NET shall remain theminimum eligibility condition for recruitment and for appointment of Assistant Professors in the Universities/Colleges/Institutions. Clause 4.4.1 stipulates that before fulfilling the other prescribed qualifications, the candidates must have cleared the National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC. Therefore, the power of the UGC to prescribe, as it thinks fit¸ the qualifying criteria for maintenance of standards of teaching, examination etc. cannot be disputed. It is in exercise of the above statutory powers, the UGC has issued the notification for holding the NET on 24th June, 2012. Para 7 of the Notification deals with the Scheme of the Act which clearly indicates that the candidates are required to obtain minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III. It also clearly indicates that only such candidates who obtain minimum required marks in each paper will be considered for final preparation of results. The final qualifying criteria for JRF and eligibility for lectureship shall be decided by UGC before declaration of result. Above clause deals with the following requirements to be followed before the final declaration of the results

(i) Candidates to obtain minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III;
(ii) Candidates who have satisfied the above criteria only would be subjected to a qualifying criteria before the final preparation of result; (Consideration Zone)
(iii) UGC has to fix the final qualifying criteria before the declaration of results.

24. Candidates are seeking final declaration of results the moment they have obtained the minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, ignoring the other two steps, referred to herein before, and also forgetting the fact that only those who obtain the minimum required marks alone will fall in the consideration zone. All these steps, as we have referred to above, have been clearly stipulated in the notification for NET Examination, 2012

27. We are of the considered opinion that all the steps taken by the UGC were strictly in accordance with clause 7 of the Notification for the NET Examination, 2012. Prescribing the qualifying criteria as per clause 7, in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as it was already pre-meditated in the notification. We are not inclined to say that the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the candidates. The UGC in exercise of its statutory powers and the laid down criteria in the notification for NET June, 2012, has constituted a Moderation Committee consisting of experts for finalising the qualifying criteria for lectureship eligibility and JRF. UGC acted on the basis of the recommendations made by the Expert Committee. The recommendations made by them have already been explained in the earlier part of the judgment. Reason for making such recommendations has also been highlighted in the Report.

28. We are of the considered view that the candidates were not misled in any manner. Much emphasis has been made on the words “clearing the National Eligibility Test”. “Clearing” means clearing the final results, not merely passing in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, which is only the initial step, not final. To clear the NET Examination, as already indicated, the candidate should satisfy the final qualifying criteria laid down by the UGC before declaration of the results.

29. We are of the view that, in academic matters, unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, the Regulations or the Notification issued, the Courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of the experts UGC as an expert body has been entrusted with the duty to take steps as it may think fit for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the University. For attaining the said standards, it is open to the UGC to lay down any “qualifying criteria”, which has a rational nexus to the object to be achieved, that is for maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research. Candidates declared eligible for lectureship may be considered for appointment as Assistant Professors in Universities and colleges and the standard of such a teaching faculty has a direct nexus with the maintenance of standards of education to be imparted to the students of the universities and colleges. UGC has only implemented the opinion of the Experts by laying down the qualifying criteria, which cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.


30. The Appeals are accordingly allowed and the judgment of the High Court is set aside. The Applications for Impleadment and Intervention are dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

“We are of the view that in academic matters unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, regulations or the notification issued, the courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of the experts.

“UGC, as an expert body, has been entrusted with the duty to take steps as it may think fit for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the University. For attaining the said standards, it is open to the UGC to lay down any qualifying criteria which has a rational nexus to the object to be achieved,” the bench said.

The bench was hearing the UGC’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s order setting aside the eligibility criteria fixed by the UGC for the NET June 2012 exam for Junior Research Fellowship and Lecturership.

“The UGC has only implemented the opinion of experts by laying down the qualifying criteria which cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the bench said while allowing the Commission’s appeal.

In March 2012, the UGC had called for applications for NET exam and in its notification it had prescribed the minimum marks for general category as 40 per cent, 40 per cent and 50 per cent in papers 1, 2 and 3 respectively. OBC and SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation of five per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

After the test in June 2012, the UGC had added a clause prescribing 65 per cent aggregate marks in all three subjects for general candidates, 60 per cent for OBC and 55 per cent for SC/ST as final qualifying criteria.

The final qualifying criteria was challenged by candidates before the Kerala High Court as well as the Bombay High Court. The UGC’s final criteria was set aside by a single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court and a division bench of the Bombay High Court.

The apex court, while upholding the UGC’s decision, said “prescribing the (final) qualifying criteria, in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as it was already pre-meditated in the notification. We are not inclined to say that the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the candidates.” The apex court said the UGC, in exercise of its statutory powers and the criteria in the notification for NET 2012, had set up a Moderation Committee consisting of experts for finalising the qualifying criteria and it acted on the basis of the expert panel’s recommendations.

“The UGC has only implemented the opinion of experts by laying down the qualifying criteria which cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the bench said.

The court held the UGC’s power to prescribe, as it thinks fit, the qualifying criteria for maintaining the standards of teaching, exams, etc “cannot be disputed”.

The apex court noted that the candidates who took the NET 2012 were not misled in any manner and clarified the phrase “clearing the NET” means clearing the final results and not just passing the three papers of the examination.

News Courtesy: IBN-Live

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