SC Upholds AICTE Regulations: PhD Mandatory for Post of Assistant Professor in Technical Institutions
The Supreme Court, in an order dated 2nd February 2021, upheld the decision of the Kerala High Court pronouncing the mandatory requirement of PhD for the post of Assistant Professor as per the AICTE Regulations particularly for any appointments made after 5th March, 2010.
A three-judge bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy held:
“We are in agreement with the view that the notification dated 18.02.2003 granting seven years to acquire PhD Degree for the right to hold the post of Associate Professors (re-designed as Assistant Professors) would come to an end in 2010 and thus persons who acquire the PhD Degree on a subsequent date will only be eligible for consideration from the date when they acquire PhD Degree.”
The Special Rules for the Technical Education Service, 1967 (the State Rules) amendment of 2003, declared PhD Degree to be a mandatory qualification for the posts of Principal, Professor and Assistant Professor.
However, later, the AICTE issued a notification bearing F. No. FD/PSSC/ Notifications/2002/1 dated 18th February 2003, through which, the Council introduced relaxations by stating that persons with First Class Degree at Masters Level in the appropriate branch of Engineering/ Technology with 5 years’ experience in Teaching/ Industry/ Research at the level of lecturer may also be appointed as Assistant Professor. This relaxation was made subject to the condition that these candidates must obtain a PhD within a period of 7 years from the date of appointment as Assistant Professor.
Soon after the above notification was published, the Kerala government amended the State Rules by incorporating rules 6A(i) and 6A(ii) which reiterated that candidates have to acquire PhD within 7 years of appointment to the post, in line with the AICTE notification.
6A. Exemption from qualification
(i) Candidates appointed as Lecturer in Engineering Colleges in the Technical Education Department on or before the 27th March 1990, who have completed 45 years of age on the date of notification published for filling up the posts of Professor, Joint Director (Engineering College Stream) and Director of Technical Education as the case may be are exempted from acquiring Ph. D Degree for eligibility for the above posts.
(ii) Candidates applying for the post of Assistant Professor are exempted from possessing Ph.D. Degree but they have to acquire Ph.D Degree within seven years of the appointment to the post of Assistant Professor as stipulated by the All India Council for Technical Education.”
On 5th March 2010, the AICTE issued the “Pay Scales, Service Conditions and Qualifications for the Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Technical Institutions Degree Regulations, 2010″ which mandated the qualification of PhD for the posts of principals, professors and associate professors (re-designated post of Assistant Professor) thereby revoking the relaxation granted under the 2003 AICTE notification.
Twelve petitions had been filed in the Kerala High Court challenging the order of the Kerala Administrative Tribunal dated 5th March 2020. These petitions were filed by Assistant professors due to fear that their appointments would be cancelled as they do not hold PhD Degrees.
The primary issue, in this case, was whether the PhD qualification requirement for the post of Assistant Professor is mandatory.
Finally, on 3rd December, 2020 the Kerala High Court gave its judgment stating that the State Rules granting 7 years’ time to acquire the PhD qualification was not applicable after 5th March 2010 — the date on which the revised AICTE Regulations were issued revoking the relaxation granted under the 2003 AICTE notification.
It was held that the State Rules are subject to AICTE Regulations concerning qualifications, the procedure of appointment, among others and that the State Rules would be void to the extent that they are repugnant to the Central Act / Regulations, in this case, the AICTE Regulations
In conclusion, the mandatory PhD qualification for the post of Assistant Professor was confirmed by the Kerala HC and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Ankitha Subramanya | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Well, nothing to do about the judgement, but why does our education system heavily rely on degrees for teaching qualification. A good teacher necessarily may not be a Ph.D, but then does it mean that we should show this Rule Book to him and deprive students of quality teaching. Similarly, a Ph.D. may not be a good teacher, but an Institute has no choice to but to appoint him to remain a compliant Institution. We all hope that when NEP is being implemented something will be done. Let us move to a system, which is more qualitative.
Ravi Bhardwaj | EduLegaL | firstname.lastname@example.org