Now, UGC takes over Distance Education Council

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken over the Distance Education Council (DEC) lock, stock and barrel. The takeover under an administrative order is violation of the Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985. DEC had come into existence as an authority of IGNOU under Section 16 of the Act. However, on May 4, IGNOU through a notification repealed and deleted the statute that provisioned for the DEC. IGNOU's action was in the wake of the HRD ministry's decision late last year entrusting UGC to become regulator for higher education through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. Instead, of recognition from DEC, now UGC's nod is needed. DEC's assets and liabilities, regular manpower and official records would be transferred to the UGC on as is where is basis in order to "ensure smooth transition and carrying on of uninterrupted functioning of the regulation of the ODL programmes/recognition process in the country." Entire regular manpower of the DEC as on May 4, 2013, except temporary, contractual and ad hoc, has been taken over by the UGC on "deemed deputation" basis. However, UGC member M M Ansari has raised objections to the UGC takeover of DEC. He said, "The manner in which the law framed by Parliament has been substituted by a bureaucratic process, to evade and avoid meaningful discussion, calls for a debate on the procedure followed by the government." Ansari has asked "whether an administrative order can substitute the laws framed through an Act of Parliament." He has demanded that HRD order giving UGC the power to take over the DEC be withdrawn. Ansari has said as recommended by the Madhav Menon committee DEC should be made an independent authority for regulation of ODL system.

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