In a historic decision, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has quashed a legislative act and declaring ultra vires the orders that empowered the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission.
Himachal Pradesh government had established regulatory Commission in 2010 under section 3 of the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory Commission) Act, 2010 for providing a regulatory mechanism in the state and for working as an interface between the state government and central regulatory bodies for ensuring appropriate standards of admission, teaching examination, research and protection of interest of students in the private Educational institutions and for matters connected therewith of incidental thereto, now with court decision it’s likely that regulatory authority will have to bundle up its activities.
The judgment, with wide ramifications for higher education, came on the petition of the Himachal Pradesh Private Universities Management Association, which was seeking to set aside the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory Commission) Act, 2010. The petitioner had challenged that the state legislature has no legislative competence to enact the act as the field of coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education is reserved exclusively for parliament.
A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh declared the Act of 2010 ultra vires and void ab initio. The bench in its 40-page judgment said that the Section 17 of the act is a sweeping provision. It postulates that the provisions of the act or rules or orders made thereunder shall have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained “in any other law” for the time being in force.
“Ostensibly, this would mean that even if the provisions in the act of 2010 or rules or orders made there under were to be inconsistent with the law made by parliament, the state act or rules would prevail. This provision is completely opposed to the mandate of Article 254 (dealing with inconsistency between laws made by parliament and laws made by legislatures of states) of the Constitution,” the court observed.
Many private universities in Himachal Pradesh were found violating admission norms and regulatory authority had forced them to rectify, but with this decision, now, it’ll be interesting to see how Govt will keep tab on illegal activities of these universities.