Several persons working in the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) in Anantapur have lost their jobs as the university has held “invalid” their postgraduate engineering degrees obtained from the Chennai-based Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology (Deemed to be University).
The students had obtained M. Tech degrees by undergoing a part-time course. The JNTU in November last year communicated to the postgraduates that “all weekend M.Tech programmes offered by Sathyabama University” are not considered valid.
Acting on petitions filed by four such affected persons, the Tamil Nadu Information Commission directed the Sathyabama University to furnish documents explaining the validity of “weekend” (part-time) M.E/M.Tech courses offered by it. The documents must be sent to the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the JNTU.
The case pertains to a batch of petitions filed by former students, some of them employed in JNTU and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, seeking copies of approval/permission obtained by the university to offer M.E/M.Tech courses to working professionals in part-time mode during 2003-12. They said their salary was stopped with effect from January 2019 by the JNTU authorities on the ground that the M.E/M.Tech course offered by Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology (Deemed to be University) could not be considered as a valid course.
Terminated from service
The petitioners also claimed that many candidates who obtained the postgraduate degree in part-time mode and were employed in Andhra Pradesh were terminated from service for the same reason. The Public Information Officer did not furnish the information sought under the Right to Information Act. Since the appellate authority in the university also failed to provide any information, the petitioners moved the commission under Section 19(3) of the Act.
The contention of the university authorities was that no approval was required from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to conduct the course and also submitted certain documents in support of their claim.
After hearing both sides, State Information Commissioner S. Muthuraj said the petitioners as well as other students who studied in the university were severely affected by the decision of JNTU, Anantapur. This would definitely result in the loss of their livelihood.
“In the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission directs the Registrar of Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology (Deemed to be University) to send valid documents regarding the equivalence of the course M.E/M.Tech (PG) programmes (Part time) to the Government of Andhra Pradesh as well as to the JNTU, Anantapur, in order to set-right the issue,” he said.
Mr. Muthuraj said the students if the university failed to take legally valid steps, a lot of students along with the petitioners who studied the course would definitely lose their livelihood. Moreover, they had a legal right to know whether their M.Tech (part time) PG programme was legally acceptable degree of not.
The Commission directed the Registrar to inform all the petitioners about the action/decision taken within a period of two months and report compliance.