New Delhi: In a fresh setback to 44 deemed universities sought to be de-recognised by the Centre, a Supreme Court-appointed panel concurred with the earlier review committees that these institutions lacked requisite standards to justify their "deemed" status.

In a report submitted to the apex court - the 'Committee of Officers' said that it "finds no reason to deviate from the conclusions drawn by the Committee of Experts, which comprised of academic experts."

An estimated two lakh students are pursuing various courses in these universities spread across the country.

The three-member panel of Ashok Thakur, N K Sinha and S K Ray was constituted by the apex court on January 11 after the aggrieved universities challenged HRD Ministry's move to  strip them of their deemed status pursuant to the recommendations of the "review committee" and the expert committee headed by Professor Tandon.

The Tandon Committee had placed these varsities in category "C" to indicate that they were not fit to retain their "deemed" status as they failed to meet the parameters laid down by the UGC and were being run as personal fiefdoms.

According to the apex court panel, most of the universities had admitted that they were merely colleges affiliated to the respective state universities and lacked functional autonomy for launching new courses in "emerging areas" or conduct research activities and PhDs.

The government had assured the apex court bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma that it would safeguard the academic interests of the students.

A similar line was adopted by the medical universities that they could not take up any innovative programmes without the prior consent of the Medical Council of India (MCI).

"By way of general remark, it is mentioned that none of the institutions deemed to be universities placed in Category 'C' by the review committee seems to conform to the norms as laid down in the UGC guidelines (2000) in respect of such institutions.

"It has to be borne in mind that the review committee only evaluated the institutions deemed to be university on whether the particular institution was really working as a university or was it more like a college, technical institution.

"In fact most of them have stated before this Committee, during the course of hearing, that the institutions were mostly colleges affiliated to the state universities due to which they were not able to innovate courses including courses in emerging area of knowledge or take up research/PhD programmes as the institutions did not have the autonomy to do so," the panel told the apex court.

However, the panel also placed before the apex court the replies of all the 44 deemed universities some of whom claimed that they had made significant progress in devising innovative courses.

The HRD Ministry had earlier constituted a review committee and an expert committee to review the functioning of these institutions following a PIL in the apex court that they lacked basic infrastructure and course curriculum.

(Agencies)