whether (i) the diplomas awarded by the State Board of Technical Education and Training ( SBTET for short) of the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh and the present States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through the distance mode and (ii) the degrees in Engineering awarded by the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University through the distance mode, can be taken to be valid diplomas and degrees, by the Transmission and Distribution Corporations of both the States, for the purposes of recruitment and promotion, especially when these diplomas and degrees were not approved by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Distance Education Council (DEC) of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), falls for consideration in these writ appeals and writ petitions.

High Court of Hyderabad

 

HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN AND HONBLE SRI JUSTICE M.GANGA RAO

 

Writ Petition Nos.22385 of 2014

 

19-01-2018

 

S.Alla Hussain, S/o Ghouse Mohiuddin, Aged 35 years, Junior Assistant, O/o the Sub-Electricity Revenue Office, APSPDCL, Onti

 

1. The APSPDCL, Tirupati, Chittoor District, Rep. by its Chairman & Managing Director

2.The APSPDCL, Tirupati, Chittoor District, Rep. by its Chief General Manager (HRD)

3.The Superintendent Engineer, Operation, APSPDCL, Kadapa, Kadapa District; and others — Respondents

 

Counsel for Petitioners:Messrs K.G. Krishna Murthy and Mr. A.Satyam Reddy, learned Senior Counsel

 

^Counsel for the University: Advocate General for the State of Telangana

Counsel for Telangana Power Transmission Corporation:

Mr. G.Vidya Sagar, Senior Counsel,

Counsel for counsel for one group of individuals:

Mr. Vedula Venkata Ramana, Senior Counsel,

Mr. Vedula Srinivas, Mr. Srinivasa Rao Velivela,

Dr. K.lakshmi Narasimha and Mr. P.V. Krishnaiah

Counsel for one set of individuals: Mr. Chandraiah Sunkara

 

<Gist:

 

>Head Note:

 

? Cases referred:

1. (2001) 8 SCC 876

2. 1997(1) ALT 629

3. (2013) 3 SCC 385

4. (2013) 8 SCC 271

5. (2014) 16 SCC 330

6. 2017 (13) SCALE 148

7. (2009) 4 SCC 590

 

 

HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN

AND

HONBLE SRI JUSTICE M.GANGA RAO

 

Writ Petition Nos.22385, 27569, 39900 and 40278 of 2014,

357, 11575, 12356, 17519, 26730, 30699, 32533,

32570, 37567, 40048, 40338 and 40441 of 2015,

W.P.Nos.12086, 12269, 12271,

14723, 22227 and 36087 of 2016,

W.P.Nos.7999, 15103, 17527 and 34857 of 2017

with

C.C.Nos.1693 of 2015 and 2489 of 2016,

And

W.A.No.1683 of 2017

 

Common Order: (per V.Ramasubramanian, J.)

 

The question whether (i) the diplomas awarded by the

State Board of Technical Education and Training ( SBTET for

short) of the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh and the

present States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through the

distance mode and (ii) the degrees in Engineering awarded by

the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University through the

distance mode, can be taken to be valid diplomas and

degrees, by the Transmission and Distribution Corporations

of both the States, for the purposes of recruitment and

promotion, especially when these diplomas and degrees were

not approved by All India Council for Technical Education

(AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and the

Distance Education Council (DEC) of the Indira Gandhi

National Open University (IGNOU), falls for consideration in

these writ appeals and writ petitions.

2. We have heard Messrs K.G. Krishna Murthy and

Mr. A.Satyam Reddy, learned Senior Counsel appearing on

one side, the learned Advocate General for the State of

Telangana appearing for the University, Mr. G.Vidya Sagar,

learned Senior Counsel appearing for the Telangana Power

Transmission Corporation, Mr. Vedula Venkata Ramana,

learned Senior Counsel, Mr. Vedula Srinivas, Mr. Srinivasa

Rao Velivela, Dr. K.Lakshmi Narasimha and Mr. P.V.

Krishnaiah, learned counsel appearing for one group of

individuals and Mr. Chandraiah Sunkara, learned counsel

appearing for one set of individuals.

3. A brief history leading to the disputes on hand would

go as follows:

(a) The Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board (APSEB)

established in the year 1959 for the purpose of generation,

transmission and distribution of electricity, was dissolved,

after the enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Electricity

Reforms Act, 1998 and 6 different Companies, one called the

Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation Limited

(APGENCO), another called The Transmission Corporation of

Andhra Pradesh (APTRANSCO) and four other Companies

called Andhra Pradesh Power Distribution Companies

(AP DISCOMs) came into existence. Particularly APTRANSCO

came into existence on 01-02-1999.

(b) When the State Electricity Board was in existence,

the service conditions of officers and servants of the Board

were governed by a set of Regulations issued in exercise of the

power conferred by section 79 (c) of the Electricity (Supply)

Act, 1948. Therefore, after the dissolution of the Board and

the formation of 6 different corporations, the Andhra Pradesh

State Electricity Board Service Regulations came to be

adopted by all the six new entities, insofar as conditions of

service of employees are concerned.

(c) After the composite State got bifurcated with effect

from 02-06-2014, both States floated independent

Corporations for generation, transmission and distribution,

but all of them continue to follow the Service Regulations of

the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board.

(d) The erstwhile Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board

comprised of 6 different services namely (i) Personnel and

General Service (ii) Engineering Service (iii) Accounts Service

(iv) General Service (v) Security Service and (vi) Medical

Service. We are concerned in this case only with one of these

services namely the Engineering Service.

(e) The Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board

Engineering Service comprised of eight branches viz.,

Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, Telecommunications, Chemists,

Draughtsmen, Transport Overseas and Blue Printers.

(f) The Electrical branch of the Engineering Service

comprised of three classes of posts with each class

comprising of different categories of posts.

(g) Class-I of The Electrical branch of the Engineering

Service comprised of four categories of posts viz., (1) Chief

Engineers (2) Superintending Engineers (3) Divisional

Engineers and Executive Engineers (Special Grade) and (4)

Divisional Engineers and Executive Engineers (Ordinary

Grade.

(h) Class-II of The Electrical branch of the Engineering

Service comprised of two categories of posts viz., (1) Assistant

Divisional Engineers and (2) Assistant Engineers. Class-III

comprised of two categories of posts viz., (1) Additional

Assistant Engineers and (2) Sub Engineers.

(i) Similarly, the Civil branch of the Engineering Service

comprised of three classes of posts. Class-I comprised of three

categories of posts viz., (1) Chief Engineers (2) Superintending

Engineers and (3) Executive Engineers. Class-II of the Civil

Branch of the Engineering Service comprised of three

categories of posts viz., (1) Assistant Divisional Engineers, (2)

Chief Head Draughtsmen and (3) Assistant Engineers and

Class-III comprised of two categories of posts viz., (1)

Additional Assistant Engineers and (2) Sub Engineers.

(j) The Mechanical branch of the Engineering Service

comprised of three classes of posts with Class-I comprising of

three categories of posts, Class-II comprising of two categories

of posts and Class-III comprising of two categories of posts.

(k) The Telecommunications branch of the Engineering

Service was divided into three classes of posts with Class-I

comprising of three categories of posts, Class-II comprising of

two categories of posts and Class-III comprising of two

categories of posts.

(l) We may not be concerned with the other four

branches viz., Chemists, Draughtsmen, Transport Overseas

and Blue Print Operators of the Engineering Service in the

batch of cases on hand. Hence, we need not look into the

constitution of these branches.

(m) Annexure-I to the APSEB Service Regulations

prescribed the methods of recruitment to each category and

class of post in every branch of the Engineering Service as

well as in the branches of other services of the Board.

(n) Annexure-II to the APSEB Service Regulations

contained tables that provided the list of Appointing

Authorities in respect of every one of the posts.

(o) Annexure-III to the APSEB Service Regulations

contained a table indicating (i) the method of recruitment and

(ii) the qualifications prescribed for recruitment to every one

of the categories and classes of posts in the Engineering

Service.

(p) Insofar as the post of Assistant Engineer in the

Electrical branch is concerned, column No.3 of the table

under Annexure-III provided the following as the

qualifications for appointment.

(a)(i) A degree in Electrical Engineering/Electrical Electronics Engineering of

a University in India established or incorporated by or under a central

Act, Provincial Act or a State Act or any other qualification recognized as

equivalent thereto.

 

(ii) Subject to the following conditions a pass in sections A and B of the

AMIE (Ind) Examination with Electrical Engineers General and any two of

the following subjects under section B as Optional or additional subjects.

 

(i) Electric Supply and power distribution

(ii) Electrical Machinery

(iii) Electrical Installation

(iv) Electrical measurements

(v) Thermodynamics and Heat Engines (Steam & Internal combustion)

(vi) Hydro Electricity

(vii) Hydraulics or hydraulic Machinery

 

(a) Should furnish evidence of having undergone practical training in

Surveying for at least one year or a diploma in Civil Engineering

awarded by the State Board of Technical Education and Training A.P. or

any other qualification recognized as equivalent thereto.

 

(b) Should have secured a pass in the Intermediate or PUC examination or

any other examination recognized as equivalent thereto.

 

(c) Should have had practical experience for a period of not less than

4 years after passing Sections A and B of the AMIE (Ind) examination,

which should include practical experience for a period of not less than

one year in Erection, Maintenance or Construction works;

 

(q) Insofar as the posts of Assistant Engineers in other

branches such as Civil, Mechanical and Telecommunications

of the Engineering Service are concerned, column No.3 of the

table under Annexure-III prescribed similar qualifications.

(r) Since we are not concerned in this case with the

optional subjects and additional subjects that varied from

branch to branch, we are not repeating the contents of

column No.3 of the table under Annexure-III in respect of

every branch.

(s) What are relevant to be noted in column No.3 of the

table under Annexure-III that contains the qualifications, are

only two things viz., (i) that a degree in the relevant branch of

Engineering is necessary and (ii) that a pass in Sections A

and B of AMIE with certain subjects as optionals, would also

be considered as equivalent qualification.

(t) Insofar as the qualification of a degree in Engineering

is concerned, column No.3 of the table under Annexure-III

that we have extracted above, prescribes that the degree

should have been obtained from a University in India

established or incorporated by or under a Central Act,

Provincial Act or a State Act or any other qualification

recognized as equivalent thereto.

(u) It must be remembered that the Service Regulations

of the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board were issued

way back on 21-8-1967 under Board Proceeding B.P.Ms

No.547 in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (c) of

Section 79 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948.

(v) An Engineering College known as Nagarjuna Sagar

Engineering College founded in the year 1965, was later made

into a University under a State enactment called Jawaharlal

Nehru Technological University Act, 1972, by combining two

other colleges located in Kakinada and Anantapur. But in

2008, the University got split into four different Universities.

(w) In the year 1983, the Jawaharlal Nehru

Technological University, established a Centre for Distance

Education and started offering a Correspondence Cum

Contact Programme (known is short as CCC programme)

leading to a B.Tech Degree. It was purportedly on the basis of

the recommendations of the Kothari Commission.

(x) To be eligible for admission to the B.Tech Degree

course under the Correspondence Cum Contact Programme,

a candidate should have successfully passed a three year

Diploma conducted by the State Board of Technical

Education and Training (SBTET) and should also be working

in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Since only limited number of

seats were available, the process of admission was through

a competitive entrance examination. The duration of the

course was four years and the course of study included

theory, practical and a project work with intensive contact

programme for 15 working days.

(y) Before proceeding further, it must be recorded that

much before the birth of the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological

University under the State enactment of the year 1972, the

Parliament enacted the University Grants Commission Act,

1956, for the purpose of making provision for the

coordination and determination of standards in Universities

and for that purpose to establish a University Grants

Commission. Section 22(1) of the University Grants

Commission Act, 1956 made it clear that the right of

conferring or granting degrees shall be exercised only by

a University established or incorporated by or under a Central

Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act or an institution deemed to

be a University under Section 3 or an institution specially

empowered by an Act of Parliament to confer or grant degrees.

Sub-section (3) of Section 22 made it clear that for the

purposes of Section 22, the expression degree would mean

any such degree, as may, with the previous approval of the

Central Government, be specified in this behalf by the

Commission by Notification in the Official Gazette. Therefore,

before the advent of privatization (or povertisation) of

education, it was only the degrees offered by Universities

established by Central or State Acts that came within

the purview of Section 22(3) of the University Grants

Commission Act, 1956. Since the Jawaharlal Nehru

Technological University is a University established by a State

enactment, subsequent to the University Grants Commission

Act, 1956, the degrees offered by Jawaharlal Nehru

Technological University also came within the purview of

Section 22(3) of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.

(z) In the year 1987, the Parliament enacted The All

India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987, for the

purpose of conferring statutory powers upon the Council to

ensure coordinated development of Technical Education

throughout the country and for the regulation of the system

and proper maintenance of norms and standards. As a matter

of fact, the All India Council for Technical Education was

already in existence from the year 1945 as a National Expert

Body to advise the Central and the State Governments for

ensuring coordinated development of Technical Education in

accordance with the approved standards. This Council which

was in existence from 1945, made certain recommendations

on the basis of which the Government of India set up

a National Working Group in November, 1985. It is on the

basis of the recommendations made by this National Working

Group and on the basis of National Policy on Education, 1986

that the All India Council for Technical Education Act was

enacted in the year 1987.

(aa) In the meantime, another development took place

with the Parliamentary Enactment known as Indira Gandhi

National Open University Act, 1985. This Act was intended to

promote Open University and Distance Education systems in

the educational pattern of the country. Under the Statutes of

the Indira Gandhi National Open University, a Distance

Education Council was established as an apex body for the

Open and Distance Learning system in the country.

The Distance Education Council was responsible for

promotion, coordination and maintenance of standards of the

ODL system.

(ab) In terms of chronology, the University Grants

Commission Act, 1956 came first, the Jawaharlal Nehru

Technological University Act, 1972 came next, the Indira

Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985 came later and

the All India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 came

subsequently.

(ac) By Notification No.44, dated 01-03-1995, issued by

the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Union

of India, the Degrees awarded through Distance Education by

the Universities established by Acts of Parliament or State

Legislature were declared to be automatically recognized for

the purpose of employment to posts and services under the

Central Government, provided such qualifications had been

approved by the Distance Education Council and also by the

All India Council for Technical Education wherever necessary.

(ad) It may be of interest to note that even before the

advent of the Indira Gandhi National Open University in

1985, an Open University was established in the year 1982 at

Hyderabad and it was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University.

Therefore, Hyderabad became the fore runner and Delhi

followed, with the Indira Gandhi National Open University in

1985. In 1987, two more Open Universities came up viz., the

Nalanda Open University, Patna and Vardhaman Mahaveer

Open University, Kota, Rajasthan. Subsequently,

Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University came up

in Nasik in 1989 and soon the number of Open Universities

grew to 17.

(ae) It appears that the Distance Education Council

started a programme evaluation in the year 2003-04 and

it was followed by institutional recognition in 2007-08.

In May, 2007, a Joint Committee was formed pursuant to

a Memorandum of Understanding between UGC, AICTE and

DEC. The Joint Committee developed guidelines in the form of

Handbook of Recognition. With effect from 2009, the DEC

started giving programme-wise recognition. After the expiry of

the term of the Joint Committee, a Tripartite Committee

comprising of Chair Persons of UGC, AICTE and DEC was

constituted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development

in 2010, but the Committee got dissolved in May, 2013. The

Distance Education Council itself got dissolved in 2013.

(af) On 18-10-2016, the APGENCO sought a clarification

regarding the claim for recognition made by persons who

acquired Diploma in Engineering from a Deemed University

known as Institute of Advanced Studies and Education

(IASE), Rajasthan. The State Government clarified on

12-04-2007 that the Degrees in Engineering offered by IASE,

Rajasthan, through Distance Education mode are not

recognized even for the purposes of employment.

(ag) Therefore, the APTRANSCO issued a proceeding in

T.O.O.Ms.No.69, dated 06-07-2007, declaring that the

Degrees /Diplomas awarded by deemed to be Universities

through Distance mode shall not be considered for

appointment or for any other service benefit unless they have

been recognized by UGC, DEC and AICTE.

(ah) It was followed by another proceeding in T.O.O.

Ms.No.195, dated 14-12-2007, declaring that the Diplomas/

Degrees awarded by Universities/Institutions established

outside the State of Andhra Pradesh through Distance mode

shall not be considered for higher level promotions or

incentive increments. However, the Degrees and Diplomas

awarded by Institutions within the State, recognized by UGC,

DEC and AICTE were declared as eligible for higher level

promotions and incentive increments.

(ai) Challenging T.O.O.Ms.No.69, dated 06-07-2007,

a writ petition was filed in W.P.No.16355 of 2007. In the said

writ petition, an interim order was passed directing the A.P.

State Council for Higher Education to enquire into the matter

and to advise APTRANSCO.

(aj) Thereafter, the Government of Andhra Pradesh

issued a clarification to APTRANSCO on 24-04-2008

reiterating that the Degrees/Diplomas awarded by IASE,

Rajasthan through Distance Education mode are not

recognized.

(ak) The interim order passed in W.P.No.16355 of 2007

on 11-12-2007 was amplified by a further order dated

24-04-2008 directing the APTRANSCO not to make further

promotions till the Board took a comprehensive decision.

(al) Pursuant to the said order, the APTRANSCO issued

comprehensive orders in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-09-

2008, declaring that the Degrees/Diplomas awarded under

the Distance mode, will be considered for recruitment,

promotions and incentives, if they were recognized by UGC,

DEC and AICTE. The Functional Heads were also directed to

seek clarification from UGC, DEC and AICTE about the

recognition granted in individual cases.

(am) The aforesaid orders in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated

11-09-2008, were reiterated by another order in T.O.O.Ms.

No.186, dated 27-10-2008.

(an) However, by another proceeding in T.O.O.Ms.No.83,

dated 17-04-2015, the previous proceedings in T.O.O.Ms.

Nos.134 and 186, were amended, declaring that the Degrees

awarded by JNTU and the Diplomas awarded by the State

Board (SBTET) were valid for promotions. But this order was

subsequently kept in abeyance through T.O.O.Ms.No.101,

dated 26-5-2015.

(ao) This genuflection on the part of the APTRANSCO

forced this Court to pass orders on 11-07-2016 in W.P.

No.12269 of 2016 directing the Power Companies to take

a final call.

(ap) Pursuant to the said order, T.O.O.Ms.No.385, dated

17-02-2017, was issued restoring T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated

17-04-2015, by which the Degrees awarded by JNTU and

Diplomas awarded by State Board were declared valid for

promotions.

(aq) T.O.O.Ms.No.385, dated 17-02-2017, was

challenged in W.P.No.7999 of 2017. An interim order was

passed in this writ petition following the interim order passed

in the previous writ petition W.P.No.11575 of 2015, which in

turn followed the interim orders passed in W.P.No.375 of

2015 seeking a declaration that the Diplomas awarded by

State Board are valid for promotions.

(ar) Eventually, the Telangana State TRANSCO issued

T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated 13-10-2017, adopting T.O.O.Ms.

No.83, dated 17-4-2015, as done by APTRANSCO.

(as) A writ petition in W.P.No.34857 of 2017 came to be

filed challenging T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated 13-10-2017.

An interim order was sought in the said writ petition, but the

learned Judge refused to grant interim order. Challenging the

refusal of the learned Judge to grant interim orders, a writ

appeal in W.A.No.1683 of 2017 came to be filed.

(at) When the writ appeal was being argued, it was

found that a batch of writ petitions challenging various orders

relating to the recognition of the Degrees awarded by JNTU

and the Diplomas offered by the State Board (SBTET) were

pending. Therefore, all of them were grouped together and

taken up for consideration.

4. Thus, we have on hand, one writ appeal,

two contempt petitions and 26 writ petitions. They can be

classified as follows:

(i) The writ appeal arises out of the refusal of the

learned Judge to grant a stay in W.P.No.34857 of 2017, with

respect to T.O.O.Ms.No.151.

(ii) The two contempt petitions arise out of (a) an interim

order passed in W.P.No.36087 of 2016 by a learned Single

Judge, directing the Corporation not to transfer any employee

contrary to T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11.09.2008 and (b) an

interim order passed in W.P.No.12356 of 2015 suspending

the operation of T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated 17.04.2014; and

(iii) The writ petitions numbering about 26, either

challenge T.O.O.Ms.No.134, T.O.O.Ms.No.186 and T.O.O.Ms.

No.181, or challenge T.O.O.Ms.No.151 or challenge T.O.O.Ms.

No.83 or T.O.O.Ms.No.101.

5. For the purpose of easy appreciation, the writ

petitions and the reliefs sought in every one of them are

presented in a tabular column, as follows:

Sl.

No.

Writ

Petition

No(s).

Prayer in the Writ Petitions

Degree

/Diplo

ma

1

22385/2014

Challenging the ban imposed vide

SOO Ms. No. 19 dated 12.02.2014 as

not applicable to Petitioners as they

acquired qualifications prior to cut of

date.

Degree

2

27569/2014

 

Challenging violation of TOO No.

134, EOO No.205 dated 23.09.2008

and SOO No.102 dated 15.09.2008

and to revert candidates promoted in

violation of TOO Ms. No. 134, EOO

No. 205 & SOO No. 102.

Diplom

a

3

39900/2014

 

Challenging removal of names from

the seniority list dated 19.12.2014

and to treat SBTET diploma (CCC) as

valid

Diplom

a

 

4

40278/2014

Challenging removal of names from

the seniority list dated 19.12.2014

and to treat SBTET diploma (CCC) as

valid

Diplom

a

 

5

357/2015

Challenging Memo dated 19.12.2014

for not including Petitioners names

and to declare that the diplomas

from SBTET (CCC) do not require

DEC approval and treat the same as

valid for promotions.

Diplom

a

6

11575/2015

Challenging TOO Ms. No. 83 dated

17.04.2015 as illegal

Diplom

a

7

12356/2015

 

Challenging T.O.O. No. 83 dated

17.05.2015 issued by APTRANSCO

Diplom

a

8

17519/2015

For implementation of TOO No. 131

and COO No. 377 dated 27.09.2008

Diplom

a

9

26730/2015

For implementation of NOO No. 181

dt. 18.09.2008 and COO No.377

dated27.09.2008 for affecting

promotions to AAE/AE/ADE

Diplom

a

10

30699/2015

 

Challenging Memo dated 11.09.2015

and 15.09.2015 effecting promotions

to Sub-Engineers through

appointment by transfer to

candidates who possess diploma

SBTET (CCC) mode as illegal and

contrary to TOO No. 101 dated

26.05.2015 and SOO No. 114 dated

04.05.2015

Diplom

a

11

32533/2015

 

Challenging TOO No. 101 dated

26.05.2015 and EOO No. 112/15

dated 13.06.2015 as illegal

Diplom

a

12

32570/2015

 

To declare the proceedings in TOO

No. 101 dated 26.05.2015, EOO No.

112/15 dated 13.06.2015 and SOO

Ms.No. 114 dated 04.06.2015 as

illegal

Diplom

a

13

37567/2015

Challenging non-promotion of

Petitioners as Sub-Engineers as

contrary to EOO Ms.No.205 dated

23.09.2008 (To follow and implead

TOO No.134)

Diplom

a

14

40048/2015

Challenging Memo dated 05.12.2015

promoting people with B.Tech. (CCC)

JNTU (h) as illegal and arbitrary

Diplom

a

15

40338/2015

 

For implementation of TOO No.134

and NOO No. 181 dated 18.09.2008

for affecting promotions to post of

AAE/AE/ADE

 

Degree

16

40441/2015

Challenging the non-promotion of

Petitioners as AAE on regular basis

with effect from 05.12.2015 and to

treat SBTET diploma (CCC) as valid

qualification

 

Diplom

a

17

12086/2016

 

Challenging clause 4 (i) of TOO

No.134 as irrational and arbitrary

and to treat SBTET diploma (CCC) as

valid for appointment by transfer as

Sub Engineer/AAE/ADE, and to

declare that DEC’s approval is not

required for Diploma Courses offered

by SBTET through CCC mode.

Degree

18

12269/2016

 

Challenging TOO 134, TOO No. 186

and NOO 181 in so far as insisting

upon AICTE approval for B.Tech.

(CCC mode), JNTU (H).

Degree

19

12271/2016

 

Challenging TOO Ms.No. 134 dated

11.09.2008 and TOO Ms. No.186

dated 27.10.2008and NOO Ms. No.

181 dated 18.09.2008 of APNPDCL

Diplom

a

20

14723/2016

To declare B.Tech. Degree obtained

from JNTU (H) under CCC mode as

valid for appointment/promotion as

Assistant Engineer/ADE in terms of

State Govt. decision dated

27.01.2014

Degree

21

22227/2016

 

For implementation of TOO No.134

and COO No. 377 dated, 27.09.2008

for effecting promotions to post of AE

to ADE.

 

Degree

22

36087/2016

 

For implementation of TOO No.134

and COO No.377 and judgement of

Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP (C)

No. 7277/14 dated 09.04.2014.

Degree

 

23

7999/2017

Challenging TOO Ms. No. 385 dated

17.02.2017 & SOO Ms. No. 11

dated25.02.17 and (as amended) to

declare the impugned TOO Ms.

No.83 dated 17.04.2015 is illegal

and contrary to Section 10 of the

AICTE Act and Section 22 of the

UGC Act.

Diplom

a

24

15103/2017

Challenging TOO Ms. no. 134 and

COO No. 377

Degree

 

25

17527/2017

 

To declare that TOO No. 134 is

inapplicable to Petitioners and

continue them as ADE or

alternatively strike down TOO Ms.

No. 134.

 

26

34857/2017

Challenging TOO Ms. No. 151 dated

13.10.2017 as illegal and direction

to strictly follow TOO No. 134

Degree

 

 

6. As could be seen from the above tabular column, the

controversies in all the 26 writ petitions revolve around

T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11.09.2008, T.O.O.Ms.No.186 dated

27.10.2008, T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated 17-04-2015, T.O.O. Ms.

No.101 dated 26.05.2005, T.O.O.Ms. No.385 dated

17.02.2017 and T.O.O.Ms.No.151 dated 13.10.2017.

7. In order to understand the scope and purport of

everyone of these T.O.Os, we shall present in a tabulation, the

operative portion of each of these T.O.Os, as follows:

T.O.O. No.

and date

Operative portion of the T.O.O

134 –

11/09/2008

(i) The Technical Degrees/ Diplomas awarded by

all the Universities/ Deemed Universities/

Institutions through Regular/ Part-time/

distance education recognised by the

UGC&AICTE, shall be considered for

recruitment, promotions, incentive increments or

any other service benefits. (In case of Distance

Mode Education the university shall have

recognition from Distance Education Council

(under the Indira Gandhi National Open

University) in addition to UGC&AICTE).

(ii) All other degrees including MBA degree

awarded through regular/part-time/distance

education courses by all the Universities

recognised by the UGC shall be considered for

recruitment, promotions, incentive increments or

any other service benefits as the case may be. (In

case of Distance Mode Education the university

shall have recognition from Distance Education

Council (under the Indira Gandhi National Open

University) in addition to UGC.

(iii) All Degrees/Diplomas awarded to the

programmes offered through Distance Education

Mode by Institute of Advance Studies in

Education (IASE), Rajasthan are not recognised

degrees for recruitment, promotions, incentive

increments or any other service benefits.

(iv) If UGC has noted the ex-post-facto sanction

of the Degrees/Diplomas awarded by the Deemed

Universities, through Distance Mode Education,

the same will not be considered as recognition.

(v) The functional heads are requested to seek

clarification from UGC, AICTE and DEC as the

case may be regarding recognition of the

Universities/Deemed Universities/ Institutions

in respect of regular or distance education.

Further, they may also contact concerned

university for genuineness of the course

certificates submitted by the incumbent and its

study centers.

186

27/10/2008

Merely reiterated the directions issued by the

Transmission Corporation in T.O.O. (Addl. Secy-

Per) Ms. No. 134 dated 11.09.2008.

02-06-2014

The State got bifurcated and separate

corporations were formed for Telangana and

Andhra Pradesh.

83

17-04-2015

The A.P. Corporation made 3 additions to

T.O.O.186 dated 27-10-2008 by inserting 3 sub

paragraphs to the existing para 6(i). The existing

para 6(i) was renumbered as 6(i)(a) and 3 sub

paras numbered as 6(i)(b), 6(i)(c) and 6(i)(d) were

inserted. They are as follows:

 

Para 6(i)(b): The B.Tech Degree offered by School

of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE),

JNTUH in the Correspondence cum-contact

(CCC) mode needs to be treated as equally valid

degree like any other B.Tech (Classroom

teaching) degree offered by the Universities for all

purposes of education and employment. However

this would be restricted to the students who got

admitted till the year 2009 but got the degree

later on as per the academic rules and

regulations of JNTUH.

 

Para 6(i)(c): Further continuation of B.Tech (CCC)

programmes by School of Continuing and

Distance Education (SCDE), JNTUH should be

allowed only with the prior approval of the UGC

as presently the distance education programmes

are looked after by UGC after the dissolution of

the DEC.

 

Para 6(i)(d): The Correspondence-cum-contact

(CCC) mode of diplomas offered by the State

Board of Technical Education and Training

(SBTET) need to be treated as equally valid, like

any other regular diploma offered by the State

Board of Technical Education and Training

(SBTET) for all purposes of education and

employment.

.

101 –

26/05/2015

Orders issued by A.P. Corporation in T.O.O

Ms.No. 83 dated 17.04.2015 ordered to be kept

in abeyance until disposal of the Court case.

385 –

17/02/2017

A.P Transmission Corporation upholds T.O.O.

Ms. No. 83 dated 17.04.2015 duly rescinding the

orders issued vide T.O.O. (Addl. Secy-Per) Ms.

No. 101 dated 26.05.2015, subject however to

the outcome of the various Court cases.

151 –

13/10/2017

Following what A.P Transmission Corporation

did, the Telangana Transmission Corporation

also made 3 additions to T.O.O.186 dated 27-10-

2008 by inserting 3 sub paragraphs to the

existing para 6(i). The existing para 6(i) was

renumbered as 6(i)(a) and 3 sub paras numbered

as 6(i)(b), 6(i)(c) and 6(i)(d) were inserted. They

are as follows:

 

Para 6(i)(b): The B.Tech Degree offered by School

of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE),

JNTUH in the Correspondence cum-contact

(CCC) mode needs to be treated as equally valid

degree like any other B.Tech (Classroom

teaching) degree offered by the Universities for all

purposes of education and employment. However

this would be restricted to the students who got

admitted till the year 2009 but got the degree

later on as per the academic rules and

regulations of JNTUH.

 

Para 6(i)(c): Further continuation of B.Tech (CCC)

programmes by School of Continuing and

Distance Education (SCDE), JNTUH should be

allowed only with the prior approval of the UGC

as presently the distance education programmes

are looked after by UGC after the dissolution of

the DEC.

 

Para 6(i)(d): The Correspondence-cum-contact

(CCC) mode of diplomas offered by the State

Board of Technical Education and Training

(SBTET) need to be treated as equally valid, like

any other regular diploma offered by the State

Board of Technical Education and Training

(SBTET) for all purposes of education and

employment.

 

8. We have seen the various types of reliefs prayed in all

the 26 writ petitions on hand in para-5 above. We have also

seen the purport of the various orders of the Andhra Pradesh

or Telangana Transmission Corporations, in para-7 above.

9. From the two tables, one contained in para-5 and the

other contained in para-7, we can group all the 26 writ

petitions into two categories (i) those supporting or opposing

various decisions of both the corporations, making the

approval by AICTE, UGC and DEC mandatory for the purpose

of recognizing the degrees awarded by the JNTUH or any

other university; and (ii) those supporting or opposing the

requirement of approval from AICTE for the recognition of

diploma courses offered by the State Board of Technical

Education and Training.

10. From the particulars given in the table in para-7

above we could see that T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11.09.2008,

T.O.O.Ms.No.186 dated 27.10.2008 and T.O.O.Ms.No.101

dated 26.05.2015 fall under one category, viz., executive

orders requiring the approval of UGC, AICTE and DEC for the

recognition of the degrees in Engineering offered through CCC

programmes.

11. Similarly, T.O.O.Ms.No.83 dated 17.04.2015, T.O.O.

Ms.No.385 dated 17.02.1017 and T.O.O.Ms.No.151 dated

13.10.2012 fall on the opposite side of the spectrum, by

prescribing that the degrees secured from JNTUH and

diplomas secured from SBTET without approval from UGC,

AICTE and DEC can be recognized for the purpose of

promotions etc.

12. Since we have classified all the 26 writ petitions on

hand into two categories, one relating to diploma and another

relating to degree; and one supporting the requirement of

recognition by UGC, AICTE and DEC and another opposing

the same, we shall first take up the writ petitions where the

diplomas are in question. But before that it would be ideal to

peep into the history of evolution of the concept of distance

learning.

History of Evolution of Adult Education:

13. What the universities have now come to call as

correspondence cum contact programme, open and distance

learning mode or distance education mode etc., were also

given different nomenclature, such as, formal education, non-

formal education, informal education, adult education,

continuing education, extension education and life long

education etc. It appears that the foundation for distance

education was laid perhaps in 1840s, when Sir Isaac Pittman

started correspondence colleges, by taking advantage of the

free delivery of mail to the rural areas, for delivering course

material. In the United States, a person by name William

Rainey Harper (1856-1906), who was the first President of the

University of Chicago introduced college level correspondence

courses.

14. One of the earliest books on the subject of Adult

Education was written in 1926 by Eduard Christian

Lindeman under the title the Meaning of Adult Education.

Eduard Lindemans life itself was a product of continuing

education. After short stints as a stable cleaner, nurseryman,

grave digger and brickyard worker, he went on to serve the

New York School of Social Work. He defined adult

education in his book to be a cooperative venture in non-

authoritarian, informal learning, the chief purpose of

which is to discover the meaning of experience. According

to him the Adult Education is a technique of learning for

adults, which makes education coterminous with life

and elevates living itself to the level of adventure

experiment. This orientation was described by him as

andragogical. According to him adult education is not one

bound by classrooms and formal curricula but involves a

concern for educational possibilities of everyday life.

What adults learn, according to him converges upon

life, not upon commencement and diplomas. In fact

Eduard Lindeman stated that the external tokens of

learning should be removed so that the learning process

may stand or fall on its intrinsic merits.

15. In fact, a statutory regime for the recognition of

Extension Education was first developed under the Morrill Act

of 1862 (Land Grant College Act), which endowed the

University of Wisconsin with income for supporting

instruction in agriculture and mechanic arts and for the

fruits of such research to be taken to the people of the State.

During the period from 1885 to 1887, Farmers Institutes

were established by the University of Wisconsin College of

Agriculture. In 1888, Teachers Institutes were run through

extension programmes. In 1890 Mechanics Institutes were

established. In 1891 the University created three extension

programmes, viz., (1) lecture courses in general subjects; (2)

courses on industrial subjects for working people; and (3)

correspondence courses designed as independent Study

Programmes. In 1901 Robert M. La Follette, who became the

Governor of the State of Wisconsin, endorsed the importance

of the Universitys Extension Function in the following words:

The State will not have discharged its duty to

the University nor the University fulfill its

mission to the public until adequate means have

been furnished to every young man and woman

in the State to acquire an education at home in

every department of learning.

 

16. In 1907 a University extension division was formed

and the programmes offered by the extension division in the

areas of public health, labour, education, municipal and

social services, became quite famous, leading to Mc. Carthy to

come up with a book titled the Wisconsin Idea. He stated in

his book that the extension division of the university brought

the university to every fire side and that it had actually shown

all universities, the means of shedding the light of knowledge

from within its walls to every home.

17. The adult education and extension education

programmes solely gave birth to the concept of Open

Universities, when the British Open University was born in

1969. Within a decade and a half, the idea was capitalized in

India and the first Open University was born in Hyderabad in

the year 1982. It was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University.

Today, distance education has taken different avatars

including online courses. Therefore, Arthur Levine classified

the universities into (1) Brick Universities, built with brick

and mortar; (2) Click Universities, which are virtual and

which open up with the click of a mouse; and (3) Brick and

Click Universities which is a combination of both.

18. Thus distance education, which has undergone

several transformations, is less than 200 years old. But the

object of distance education, as it was originally

conceived, was to improve the skills of the work force

and to strengthen the human resources of the

establishment. Promotional prospects and career

advancement for the employees constituted the

corresponding benefit to the work force. A vulgar clamor

for promotions to higher posts, without a corresponding

benefit to the employer, was not the object with which the

idea of distance or correspondence education was conceived.

It is important to keep in mind the fact that the concept

of distance education or correspondence education long

preceded the commercialization of education. Keeping

these fundamentals in mind, we shall now move on to the

controversies on hand.

Diploma courses offered by State Board of Technical

Education and Training:

19. The State of Andhra Pradesh enacted the A.P.

Education Act, 1982, with a view to consolidate and amend

the laws relating to the educational system in the State of

Andhra Pradesh. Section 6 of the said Act empowers the

Government to establish a Board known as State Board of

Technical Education and Training. Sub-section (2) of Section

6 of Act No.1/1982 defines the functions of SBTET. Under the

said sub-section, the functions of the Board would include (i)

advising the Government on the coordinated development of

technical education in the State at all levels below under-

graduate level; (ii) working in liaison with the Southern

Regional Committee of All India Council for Technical

Education in the formulation of schemes in the State; (3)

affiliating and recognizing the institutions conducting the

courses below under-graduate level and prescribing courses

of study for them; and (4) conducting examinations and

awarding diplomas and certificates conforming to the

minimum standards prescribed by AICTE.

20. Section 21A of the A.P. Education Act, 1982

(inserted by way of Amendment Act No.27/1987 w.e.f.

01.06.1987) stipulates that no institution imparting

education and located in this State, shall affiliate itself to any

University outside the State of Andhra Pradesh.

21. As a matter of fact, the State Board of Technical

Education and Training was already in existence for about 25

years prior to the enactment of the A.P. Education Act, 1982.

In the pre-independence and post independence days, there

was only one office known as the Director of Public

Instructions (DPI), who also used to head the Technical

Education. After the first reorganization of States and the

formation of the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Government

issued G.O.Ms.No.371, Education, dated 26.02.1957

establishing the State Board of Technical Education and

Training. But after the advent of the A.P. Education Act,

1982, the Board was formed as a Statutory body and the

Board was constituted under G.O.Ms.No.140, dated

24.04.1984.

22. It is of interest to note that the All India Council for

Technical Education though established in the year 1945,

gained Statutory recognition only under the AICTE Act, 1987,

But the A.P. Education Act, 1982, which created the SBTET

as a statutory body, made it mandatory for the State Board to

work in liaison with AICTE and also to conduct examinations

and award diplomas and certificates conforming to the

minimum standards prescribed by AICTE. In other words,

even before the All India Council for Technical Education

could gain statutory recognition in the year 1987 by a Central

Act of Parliament, the A.P. Education Act, 1982 recognized its

role in the field of technical education. Section 6 of the A.P.

Education Act reads as follows:

6. State Board of Technical Education and

Training: – (1) The Government may, by notification,

establish a board of technical education to be called

“the State Board of Technical Education and Training,

Andhra Pradesh”, the composition and powers of which

shall be such as may be prescribed.

(2) The functions of the Board shall be, –

(a) to advise the Government on the co-ordinated

development of technical education in the State at all

levels below under-graduate level ;

(b) to work in liaison with the Southern Regional

Committee of the All India Council for Technical

Education in the formulation of schemes in the State ;

(c) to affiliate or recognise institutions conducting

courses below undergraduate level and prescribe

courses of study for them;

(d) to inspect institutions periodically and ensure that

the standards of the courses and the instructional

facilities provided are satisfactory;

(e) to conduct examinations and award diplomas and

certificates conforming to the minimum standards

prescribed by the All India Council for Technical

Education ;

(f) to establish and develop co-operative relationship

with Industry and Commerce.

 

23. All the Government Polytechnics, offering certificate

or diploma courses in technical education, function under the

supervision of and with the approval of the AICTE. There were

28 Polytechnics in the State all of which had the approval of

AICTE, for offering fulltime diploma courses. But in 1993-94

the SBTET introduced correspondence cum contact

programmes in diploma courses purportedly for the benefit of

ITI passed candidates, but without taking the specific

approval of AICTE for conducting such programmes.

24. The contention of the Management of the

Corporations in these cases is that the State Board of

Technical Education and Training started conducting

Diploma courses through CCC mode from the year 1992 in

terms of G.O.Ms.No.108, dated 27-03-1992 and that students

are admitted to these courses through a common entrance

examination, they are allotted to Government Polytechnics

and they appear for the examination along with regular full-

time candidates and pass the examinations. Therefore, the

contention of the Management is that since 28 Polytechnics in

which Diploma courses are offered on full-time basis are

already approved by the AICTE, the question of getting

a separate approval for the courses offered through CCC

mode does not arise.

25. But if the above contention of the Corporations is

correct, we do not know why the Corporations took a stand at

the earliest point of time in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated

11-09-2008, that the Diplomas offered through CCC mode

will not be recognized unless the approval of the AICTE was

there. For a period of seven full years, T.O.O.Ms.No.134,

dated 11-09-2008, held the field, till it was modified by the

APTRANSCO under T.O.O.Ms.No.83 dated 17-04-2015.

26. The stand taken by the SBTET in a meeting

convened by the Higher Education Department on

09-12-2013 was that the Diplomas offered by the SBTET

through CCC mode should be treated like any other regular

Diploma courses offered by SBTET. When the decision taken

in the meeting held on 09-12-2013 was communicated on 24-

12-2013, the APTRANSCO sought clarifications from the

Energy Department on 18-03-2014. The Energy Department

issued a clarification on 12-03-2014, after which T.O.O.Ms.

No.83 was issued.

27. But what happened from the year 2013 till the year

2015 may not be an answer to the core issue. We hope that

the decision taken in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-09-2008,

was also a conscious decision taken after proper application

of mind. As we have pointed out earlier, the AICTE was

established in the year 1945 and it gained Statutory

recognition only in the year 1987 under the AICTE Act, 1987.

Similarly, SBTET was established in the year 1957 and it

gained Statutory recognition only under the A.P. Education

Act, 1982.

28. At the time when the A.P. Education Act, 1982 was

passed, the AICTE was just an expert body, without any

statutory functions. The statutory functions came to be

conferred upon the AICTE only in the year 1987.

29. Despite this fact, the A.P. Education Act, 1982 made

it mandatory for SBTET to work in liaison with the AICTE and

follow the mandate of the AICTE even at a time when the

AICTE had no statutory role to perform.

30. It is contended by the learned Senior Counsel for

the Corporation that since the courses offered by SBTET and

the Polytechnics through which they were offered were

already granted approval by the AICTE, the question of

obtaining approval for the programmes offered through CCC

mode would not arise. But we think that the said contention

goes against the scheme of the AICTE Act. The reasons for

this conclusion of ours are:

(i) SBTET is mandated by Section 6(2)(b) of the A.P.

Education Act, 1982 to work in liaison with the AICTE

in the formulation of the schemes in the State. Under

Section 6(2)(c), SBTET is to affiliate or recognize institutions

conducting courses below undergraduate level and prescribe

courses of study for them. Under Section 6(2)(e), the Board is

obliged to conduct examinations and award Diplomas and

Certificates conforming to the minimum standards

prescribed by the AICTE. Therefore, there is a statutory

compulsion for SBTET to adhere to the minimum standards

prescribed by the AICTE. Hence, if a programme through CCC

mode is formulated without the approval of the AICTE, the

same cannot be said to have passed the check post with

reference to the minimum standards prescribed by the AICTE.

If the Diplomas offered through CCC mode by SBTET do not

conform to the minimum standards prescribed by the AICTE,

the said Diplomas are not valid. The question whether they

conform to the minimum standards or not, has to be

answered only by the AICTE in view of Section 6(2)(e). In the

absence of any approval/recognition/certification by the

AICTE that the Diplomas offered through CCC mode adhere

to the minimum standards prescribed by the AICTE, these

Diplomas cannot be taken to be valid in the light of the

mandate of Section 6(2)(e) of the A.P. Education Act, 1982.

(ii) Section 2(h) of the AICTE Act, 1987 defines

a technical institution to mean an institution not being

a University, offering courses or programmes of Technical

Education. What is important to note from Section 2(h) of the

AICTE Act is that it talks about courses as well as

programmes of Technical Education. If Diploma in

Engineering is a course, the mode of study is a programme.

Keeping this in mind if we go to Section 10(1)(k) of the AICTE

Act, 1987, it could be seen that the AICTE is vested with the

duty to take all steps (a) for ensuring coordinated and

integrated development of Technical and Management

Education and (b) maintenance of standards, with respect to

the grant of approval for starting new Technical Institutions

and for introduction of new courses or programmes. It is

pertinent to note that the distinction between courses

and programmes, inscribed in Section 2(h) of the Act,

is maintained even in Section 10(1)(k) of the AICTE Act.

Section 10(1)(k) speaks about approval for starting new

Technical Institutions and for introduction of new courses or

programmes.

31. Therefore, if the particular programme viz., CCC

programme offered by SBTET did not have the approval as

required by Section 10(1)(k), the same would be in excess of

the statutory functions conferred upon SBTET under

Section 6(2)(e) of the A.P. Education Act, 1982, also.

32. To put it differently, the Diploma offered by SBTET

may come within the purview of an approved course.

The Polytechnics through which the Diplomas were offered

may come within the purview of approved Technical

Institutions. But the CCC programme through which such

Diplomas are offered, if not approved, will make such

Diplomas not valid.

33. Therefore, we are of the considered view that the

Management of the Corporations took a valid, conscious

and wise decision under T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-09-2008,

to recognize only those Diplomas offered by SBTET, which

had the recognition of the AICTE. Through consultations with

the School Education Department or the State Council of

Higher Education, SBTET cannot make these Diplomas valid,

as these administrative decisions cannot cure a violation of

the statutory mandate under Section 10(1)(k) of the AICTE

Act, 1987 read with section 6(2)(e) of the A.P. Education Act,

1982.

34. The learned Senior Counsel for the APTRANSCO and

other learned counsel appearing for private parties who

secured Diplomas through CCC mode, pressed into service,

the ratio laid down by the Supreme Court in Bharathidasan

University v. AICTE . But the said decision revolved around

the distinction between a University and a Technical

Institution. Therefore, the said decision may be of relevance

when we deal with the validity of the Degrees offered by

JNTUH, that forms the next part of the discussion.

35. There are a couple of writ petitions challenging the

validity of T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11-9-2008, and various

subsequent orders, by which the Diplomas offered by SBTET

through CCC programs are declared valid only if they had the

approval of the AICTE. The contention of the petitioners in

these cases is that Annexure-III of the A.P. State Electricity

Board Service Regulations merely prescribes a Diploma in

a particular branch of Engineering recognized by the State of

Andhra Pradesh as a valid qualification for appointment to

certain posts. For instance, the table in Annexure-III to the

A.P. State Electricity Board Service Regulations prescribes

a Diploma in Electrical / Mechanical / Civil / Telecom

Engineering or any other equivalent qualifications recognized

by the Board/Government of Andhra Pradesh as

a qualification for appointment to the post of Sub Engineer.

36. The contention of the candidates who had secured

Diplomas through CCC mode is that once they hold a valid

Diploma offered by SBTET and recognized by the Government

of Andhra Pradesh, they satisfy the eligible criteria prescribed

in the table under Annexure-III of the Service Regulations.

Since the Service Regulations are issued in exercise of the

power conferred by Section 79(c) of the Electricity (Supply)

Act, 1948, they have statutory force and that these Service

Regulations, in the contention of these persons, cannot be

tampered with by way of Board Proceedings or Office Orders,

which are mere executive instructions.

37. It does not require a great deal of research to accept

that the Service Regulations framed in exercise of the power

conferred by a Statute, have statutory force and that these

Regulations cannot be diluted or modified, by way of

executive instructions.

38. But it must be pointed out that the APSEB Service

Regulations were issued way back on 21-8-1967 under

B.P.Ms.No.547 and they were notified in the Official Gazette

under B.P.Ms.No.199, dated 04-3-1970. At that time (viz.,

1967 and 1970) we had the AICTE without a statutory

function and SBTET without a statutory recognition.

The statutory recognition for the AICTE came in 1987 and the

statutory recognition for SBTET came in 1982.

39. Therefore, the expressions recognized by State

Board/Government of Andhra Pradesh appearing in

Annexure-III to the Service Regulations, should be

understood to mean those Diplomas that were valid in terms

of Section 6(2)(e) of the A.P. Education Act, 1982 read with

Section 10(1)(k) of the AICTE Act, 1987.

40. In fact, if the Service Regulations are to be literally

interpreted, the reference to the State Board in Annexure-III

of the Service Regulations should be construed to mean a

State Board without a statutory recognition. This is due to the

fact that at the time when the Service Regulations were

framed in 1970, the State Board remained a mere expert body

without statutory functions. Therefore, what was contained in

the Service Regulations framed in 1970 should be taken to

mean only a State Board without a statutory recognition, if a

literal interpretation is taken. This will lead to absurd results.

Therefore, the only way the Service Regulations are to be read

is to read them in tune with the statutory prescriptions

contained in the 1982 Act and the 1987 Act.

41. In other words, T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11-09-2008,

was not an executive instruction issued in modification or

amendment of the Service Regulations. It was only

a clarification issued to the Service Regulations and

it provided an indicator as to how the Service Regulations are

to be read in tune with statutory prescription.

42. Therefore, in fine, we hold that insofar as Diplomas

offered by SBTET are concerned, they would be valid for all

purposes, only if the programmes through which they were

offered by SBTET such as CCC programmes, have had the

approval of the AICTE. Hence, the writ petitions challenging

the prescription relating to recognition by the AICTE are liable

to be dismissed and the prescription relating to recognition by

the AICTE is upheld.

Degrees through CCC mode:

43. That takes us to the next question relating to

Degrees in Engineering.

44. As we have seen earlier, the UGC Act came first in

1956, the JNTU Act came next in 1972, the A.P. Education

Act came in 1982, the IGNOU Act came in the year 1985 and

the AICTE Act came in 1987.

45. But the Service Regulations for the employees of

the A.P. State Electricity Board were issued in 1970,

when shortcut methods to success in the field of

education were yet to be invented. Therefore, Annexure-III

to the A.P. State Electricity Board Service Regulations, 1970,

merely stipulated a Degree offered by a University in India

established by or under a Central Act, Provincial Act or a

State Act or any other qualification recognized as equivalent

thereto, as a qualification for recruitment to certain posts. On

the basis of the prescription contained in Annexure-III to the

APSEB Service Regulations, it was contended by one set of

learned counsel led by Mr. Vedula Venkata Ramana, learned

Senior Counsel that all T.O.Os., issued by the Board or the

Corporations were totally invalid and ultra vires, since these

executive instructions could not cause inroads into the

statutory scheme. It is the contention of these counsel that

since the Service Regulations were issued in exercise of the

power conferred by Section 79(c) of the Electricity (Supply)

Act, 1948, the same constitute the delegated legislation.

Hence, without an amendment to these Regulations, the

Board cannot, according to the learned counsel, invalidate

certain Degrees, through executive instructions.

46. But as we have pointed out in our discussion in the

previous chapter, the Service Regulations were issued in 1967

and notified in 1970. At that time, the UGC Act, 1956, alone

was in force. If the rigid interpretation now sought to be given

by the learned counsel is accepted, then the words

University established under a State Act appearing in the

Service Regulations should not also be taken to apply to the

Degrees conferred by JNTU, since the JNTU Act came in 1972

and it was not in existence in 1970 when the Service

Regulations were notified. It is only by understanding the

meaning of the words University established by a State Act

appearing in the table under Annexure-III to the Service

Regulations, to encompass within itself, the Degrees awarded

by Universities created even after the issue of the Service

Regulations, that the petitioners are now able to contend that

they hold a Degree within the meaning of the Service

Regulations. Otherwise, it is not possible to project or

telescope the Service Regulations into the future.

47. As we have stated elsewhere, the Service

Regulations were not tampered with by successive T.O.Os.

T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11-09-2008, merely offered the

manner in which the prescriptions contained in the table

under Annexure-III to the Service Regulations have to be read

and understood. Therefore, the contention that the executive

instructions cannot override statutory regulations,

is something that cannot be applied to the situation on hand.

It is settled law that executive instructions cannot supplant

but can always supplement the statutory regulations. After

the Service Regulations were framed in 1967 and notified in

1970, a series of developments have taken place with the

creation of the JNTU under the 1972 statutory enactment,

the enactment of the A.P. Education Act in 1982, the coming

into force of the Parliamentary enactment IGNOU in the year

1985 and the statutory recognition granted to the AICTE

under the 1987 Parliamentary enactment. Therefore, just as

we understand the words State Act appearing in the 1970

Service Regulations to include a State enactment that came

up in future in the form of the JNTU Act, 1972, we have to

understand the same to be in tune with all future

developments. What T.O.O.Ms.No.134 did was to provide

a new tool for breaking the code contained in the Service

Regulations. It did not alter or amend the Statutory

Regulations. Therefore, the challenge to T.O.O.Ms.No.134

dated 11-09-2008, should go.

48. As a matter of fact, what has happened from the

year 2006 up to the year 2017, would show that the Boards

of Management of these Corporations have wavered in

their decisions from one extreme to the other, depending

upon the density of the pressure exerted by the rival

groups of employees. Even according to Mr. G.Vidya Sagar,

learned Senior Counsel appearing for TSTRANSCO, the series

of disputes began on 18-10-2006 when APGENCO sought

a clarification regarding the Degrees/Diplomas offered by the

Institute of Advanced Studies and Education, Rajasthan.

The State Government clarified on 12-04-2007 that they are

not recognized. The APTRANSCO then issued T.O.O.

Ms.No.69 dated 06-07-2007, directing that the Degrees/

Diplomas awarded by Deemed Universities through Distance

mode shall not be recognized for appointment or for any other

service benefit unless the Degrees were recognized by the

UGC, DEC and AICTE.

49. It was followed by T.O.O.Ms.No.195 dated

14-12-2007, declaring that the Degrees/Diplomas awarded by

the Universities/Institutions established outside the State

through Distance mode shall not be recognized. Thereafter,

a writ petition came to be filed in W.P.No.16355 of 2007

challenging T.O.O.Ms.No.69. An interim order was passed in

the said writ petition on 11-12-2007 directing the A.P. State

Higher Education Council to go into the matter. Accordingly,

the Government issued a clarification on 24-04-2008

reiterating that the Degrees/Diplomas awarded by IASE,

Rajasthan, through Distance mode are not recognized.

50. However, promotions were sought to be given in

deviation of the clarification forcing another interim order to

be passed in the pending writ petition on 24-04-2008.

51. T.O.O.Ms.No.134 dated 11-09-2008, was reaffirmed

in T.O.O.Ms.No.186 dated 27-10-2008. But the State got

bifurcated on 02-06-2014 after which T.O.O.Ms.No.83 dated

17-04-2015, was issued diluting T.O.O.Ms.Nos.134 and 186.

This dilution was put on hold under T.O.O.Ms.No.101 dated

26-05-2015. But later T.O.O.Ms.No.83 was affirmed in T.O.O.

Ms.No.385, dated 17-02-2017, followed by T.O.O.Ms.No.151

dated 13-10-2017.

52. Therefore, it is clear that from one extreme to the

other, the fortunes of candidates have fluctuated with the

decision making body oscillating from one end to the other.

53. According to Mr. G.Vidya Sagar, learned Senior

Counsel appearing for TSTRANSCO, it was true that the

Boards of Management came under pressure from rival group

of employees, some of whom also took interim orders from

this Court one way or the other. Therefore, in order to remove

the impasse, the Corporation sought a clarification on

19-01-2013. At first, the A.P. State Higher Education Council

submitted a report on 28-01-2013 holding that the Degrees

awarded by Deemed Universities are not recognized. But

subsequently, IGNOU issued a Notification dated 04-05-2013

repelling Statute No.28 by which Distance Education Council

was constituted. The Ministry of Human Resources

Development issued an Office Memorandum dated 16-05-

2013 notifying repeal of DEC.

54. Consequent upon the dissolution of DEC, the

University Grants Commission issued a Memo dated

28-5-2013 stipulating that no further affiliations/approvals

could be granted to any new ODL Programme.

55. It was followed by a Public Notice issued by the UGC

on 27-06-2013 to the effect that the Deemed Universities

should not offer courses on Distance Education mode.

56. Then it was the turn of the A.P. Public Service

Commission to seek a clarification from the Government with

regard to the Degrees offered by JNTU through CCC mode.

Upon receipt of this request from the APPSC on 07-10-2013,

the State Government wrote to the State Council for Higher

Education on 05-11-2013. The State Council for Higher

Education gave an opinion on 20-11-2013 to the effect that

the State Government Universities are competent to run

academic programmes through Distance mode in the

identified jurisdiction with the approval of their Executive

Council.

57. Thereafter, a meeting was convened on 09-12-2013

by the Higher Education Department. It was resolved in the

meeting that the B.Tech degrees offered by JNTUH through

Distance mode is valid and that the same should be restricted

for students who got admitted till the year 2009.

58. The State Government accordingly addressed

a letter to the APPSC on 27-01-2014.

59. Therefore, it is clear that the pendulum has swung

from one extreme to another with stakeholders within the

State offering opinions. But surprisingly, no consultation

was made either by the Public Service Commission or by

the State Higher Education Council or by the State

Government, either with UGC or with the AICTE or with

DEC.

60. The contentions of Mr. G.Vidya Sagar, learned

Senior Counsel appearing for TSTRANSCO, and all other

learned counsel supporting the latest decision of the

Corporation in T.O.O.Ms.No.151 dated 13-10-2017 are

(a) that the JNTUH is a University established by a State

enactment and hence it has a right to confer Degrees under

Section 22(1) of the UGC Act, 1956;

(b) that by virtue of the judgment of the Supreme Court

in Bharathidasan University v. AICTE, the All India

Council for Technical Education may have a role to play in

respect of Technical Institutions but not Universities created

by statutory enactments;

(c) that the Distance Education Council was a creation

only of the statutes of the IGNOU and hence the same cannot

dictate terms to a University created by a State enactment;

(d) that JNTU has been offering Degree courses in

Engineering through CCC mode from the year 1983, even

before DEC was born under the IGNOU Act, 1985 and even

before the issue of the AICTE Act, 1987 and hence these

authorities cannot destroy the autonomy of JNTUH;

(e) that the admission of students to the CCC mode

offered by JNTUH, was through a limited competitive

examination and by applying the rule of reservation, since the

number of seats available are very limited and the students

admitted to these programmes, have the same syllabus,

undergo the course of study for a duration of four years with

15 days in a year organized as compulsory contact

programmes and that therefore these Degrees cannot be

belittled.

Contention 1 ( inter play between UGC Act and JNTU Act)

61. The first contention revolves around the interplay

between the UGC Act, 1956 and the JNTU Act, 1972.

The UGC Act defines a University to mean a University

established or incorporated by or under a Central Act,

a Provincial Act or a State Act. But the definition takes within

its fold any institution which is recognized by the Commission

in accordance with the Regulations made under the Act, but

in consultation with the University. Section 3 of the UGC Act,

1956, empowers the Central Government on the advice of the

UGC to declare by notification in the Official Gazette, any

institution for Higher Education other than a University, to be

a Deemed University. Section 12 of the UGC Act, 1956, vests

with the Commission the duty to determine and maintain

standards of teaching, examination and research in

Universities.

62. The right of conferring or granting a Degree can be

exercised in terms of Section 22(1) of the UGC Act, 1956, only

by a University established or incorporated by or under

a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act or an institution

deemed to be a University under Section 3 or an institution

specially empowered by an Act of Parliament to confer

Degrees. But the word Degree appearing in Section 22(1) is

given a restricted meaning, under sub-section (3) of

Section 22. The word Degree, for the purposes of Section 22

is defined in Section 22(3) to mean any such Degree as may,

with the previous approval of the Central Government be

specified in this behalf by the Commission, by Notification in

the Official Gazette.

63. A careful look at the scheme of Section 22 would

show that there are two types of restrictions contained

therein. The first is with respect to the University or

Institution that is empowered to confer a Degree and the

second is with respect to the nature of the Degrees that could

be conferred. Therefore, both the Institution as well as the

Degree offered, should pass the twin tests contained in

Section 22. While the Institution should pass the test under

sub-section (1), the Degree should pass the test under

sub-section (3).

64. Therefore, as rightly contended by Mr. K.G. Krishna

Murthy, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the appellant

in the writ appeal, any and every Degree will not come within

the prescription contained in Section 22(3). If the label given

to a Degree alone matters, institutions may start

offering the Degrees as notified by the Commission in the

Official Gazette, with the duration of even six months or

even one year. Therefore, there is no point in contending that

JNTU is offering a Degree whose descriptive tag tallies with

words found in the Notification issued by the UGC in terms of

Section 22(3).

65. Unless a Degree course offered by a University

which passes the test under Section 22(1), has been

previously approved by the Central Government and notified

by the Commission in the Official Gazette, it cannot be taken

to be a Degree within the meaning of Section 22(3) of the UGC

Act, 1956.

Contention 2 (role of AICTE)

66. The next contention revolves around the role of the

AICTE and the decision of the Supreme Court in

Bharathidasan University.

67. In Bharathidasan University, the University

commenced courses in Technology and Management, without

the approval of the AICTE. The AICTE challenged the action of

Bharathidasan University and the challenge was sustained by

the Madras High Court, on the basis of a decision of the Full

Bench of this Court in M.Sambasiva Rao v. Osmania

University . When the matter was taken to the Supreme

Court, the Supreme Court held that the autonomy of the

Universities cannot be belittled by making them subservient

to the AICTE. After noting the distinction between the

Universities and Technical Institutions maintained in the

AICTE Act, 1987 and also after noting that in several

provisions, the expressions University and Technical

Institution are used alongside each other, the Supreme

Court pointed out in Bharathidasan University that in

certain places, the word University is not used alongside the

expression Technical Institution. The Supreme Court

pointed out in particular, that Section 10(1)(k) of the AICTE

Act, uses the expression Technical Institutions alone and

not the word University and that therefore the same would

apply only to Technical Institutions and not Universities.

The Supreme Court also pointed out that the expression

Technical Institution defined under Section 2(h) of the

AICTE Act, specifically excludes a University and that

therefore Section 10(1)(k) cannot be extended to Universities.

68. But nevertheless, the Supreme Court recorded in

the penultimate paragraph of its decision in

Bharathidasan University that the lack of requirement

for the Universities to take the approval of the AICTE,

would not mean that the Universities have no obligation

or duty to conform to the standards and norms laid

down by the AICTE for the purpose of ensuring

coordinated and integrated development of Technical

Education and maintenance of standards.

69. Therefore, what follows from the decision in

Bharathidasan University is two fold viz., (a) that though

Technical Institutions coming within the meaning of Section

2(h) of the AICTE Act, 1987, may require approval of the

AICTE for starting technical courses and programmes,

Universities may not require such approval and (b) that

nevertheless the programmes so offered by the University

should conform to the standards and norms laid down by the

AICTE, for the purpose of ensuring coordinated and

integrated development of Technical Education and

maintenance of standards.

70. Therefore, it may not be possible for anyone to

contend that the lack of approval of the AICTE, for the

Degree courses in Engineering offered by JNTUH through

CCC mode, made those degrees unrecognizable. But it is

always possible to test whether a Degree in Technical

Education offered through CCC mode even if it be by

JNTUH, would conform to the standards and norms laid

down by the AICTE. The AICTE has taken a stand before us

that the offering of Degree courses in Technical Education

through CCC mode, may not conform to the standards and

norms fixed by the AICTE. Therefore, unless the Degrees

offered through CCC mode conform to the standards and

norms fixed by the AICTE, the Degrees so offered by the

University, even if it be a University created by a State

enactment, may not be recognizable. They are not

recognizable, not because the University did not take

approval of the AICTE, but because the CCC mode may

not conform to the standards and norms prescribed by

the AICTE. This is the ultimate test laid down in

Bharathidasan.

71. In fact, certain developments have taken place after

Bharathidasan. Following the decision in Bharathidasan,

the Supreme Court held in Parshvanath Charitable Trust

v. AICTE that AICTE is not intended to be an authority

either superior to or to supervise and control the Universities

and thereby superimpose itself upon such Universities merely

because they are imparting Technical Education. The Court

further held in Parshvanath Charitable Trust that the role

of the AICTE is only advisory, recommendatory and one of

providing guidance thereby subserving the cause of

maintaining appropriate standards and qualitative norms and

not as an authority empowered to issue and enforce any

sanctions by itself.

72. In Association of Management of Private

Colleges v. AICTE , the issue whether Private Colleges

affiliated to Bharathidasan University and Manonmaniam

Sundaranar University were required to seek approval of the

AICTE, for offering MBA and MCA courses, arose for

consideration. The Private Colleges contended that they were

governed only by the UGC Act, 1956 and the State Act

concerning the University in question and not by the AICTE

Act. Reliance was placed upon the decision in

Bharathidasan University. The Supreme Court framed six

points for consideration, the first of which was whether the

colleges affiliated to a University come within the purview of

the definition of the expression Technical Institution under

Section 2(h) of the AICTE Act, 1987 and the second of which

was whether the AICTE has got control and supervision over

the affiliated colleges of the respective Universities. Both these

points were answered by the Supreme Court in favour of the

Private Colleges by following the decisions in Bharathidasan

and Parshvanath Charitable Trust.

73. It is relevant to note that the decision in

Bharathidasan University was delivered on 24.09.2001. The

said decision was followed in Parshvanath Charitable Trust,

which was delivered on 13.12.2012. Both these decisions

were cited with approval in Association of Management Private

Colleges, delivered on 25.04.2013. Thus the mantra of

Bharathidasan University worked miracles for a period of 12

years.

74. But it appears that the magic started waning, when

a two Member Bench passed an order on 24.03.2014 in

W.P.No.895 of 2013, directing the matter to be listed before a

Bench of three Judges. It was followed by an order passed on

09.05.2014 in S.L.P. (Civil).No.7277 of 2014 by a four

Member Bench holding that prior approval of AICTE was

compulsory and mandatory for the conduct of a technical

course including MBA, by an existing affiliated technical

college and also new technical college which will require

affiliation by a university for the conduct of its technical

courses or programmes.

75. All the aforesaid developments were taken note of by

the Supreme Court in Varun Saini v. Guru Gobind Singh

Indaprastha University . In paragraph 16 of its decision in

Varun Saini, the Supreme Court highlighted that the

jurisdiction of AICTE got clarified by the order dated

09.05.2014 passed by a four Member Bench to the effect that

prior approval of AICTE was compulsory and mandatory for

the conduct of technical courses including MBA. Though the

batch of cases before the Supreme Court in Varun Saini,

merely sought extension of time schedule originally fixed in

Parshvanath, the Court nevertheless noted the significant

development that took place with the order passed on

09.05.2014 by a four Member Bench. In fact the batch of

cases that were before the Supreme Court in Varun Saini,

related to a notification issued by the university in respect of

several courses, some of which were covered by AICTE

regulations and some covered only by university statutes.

Therefore, the Supreme Court, in Varun Saini segregated in

paragraph 19 of the report, the courses covered by AICTE

regulations and the courses covered by university Statutes.

After noting the difference between these two types of

courses, the Supreme Court took up for consideration in

paragraph-20, the courses that are regulated by AICTE Act

and regulations. In fact in para-20, the Supreme Court

recorded the submission of the learned Attorney General

appearing for AICTE that after the pronouncement of the

judgment in Association of Management Private Colleges,

AICTE was in search of its jurisdiction/authority, till it was

recognized to have the power, all though by an interim order

dated 09.05.2014.

76. Therefore, it is clear from Varun Saini that the

strength of the opinion rendered in Bharathidasan University,

applied with all virility in Association of Management Private

Colleges, may get diluted and the issue appears to be pending

consideration.

77. After the decision in Varun Saini, a question relating

to the validity of the degrees in engineering, awarded by

certain deemed to be universities, such as, J.R.N. Rajasthan

Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur, Institute of Advanced Studies

in Education, Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute,

Uttar Pradesh and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation,

Salem, through Distance mode, came up for consideration

before the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation

Corporation limited v. Rabi Sankar Patro . The Supreme

Court held in the said decision:

(a) that AICTE Regulations, 1994 would apply to deemed to be

universities and that the deemed to be universities were not

justified in introducing any new courses in technical

education without the approval of AICTE;

(b) that the ex post facto approval granted by UGC to the

programmes offered during the academic session 2001-2005,

were illegal;

(c) that all the degrees in engineering by the concerned

deemed to be universities will stand suspended;

(d) that AICTE shall advice the modalities for the conduct of

appropriate tests for the students to enable them to have

their degrees validated;

(e) that students, who were admitted after the academic

sessions 2001-2005, will have their degrees cancelled and

these students will be entitled to refund of tuition fees from

the universities;

(f) and that all deemed to be universities will be restrained

from carrying on any courses in distance education mode

from the academic cession 2018-19 onwards.

78. Some of the important features noted in or the

observations found in, the decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation

Corporation Limited are:

(a) Though the Special Leave Petitions before the

Supreme Court arose out of one decision of the Punjab &

Haryana High Court and another decision of the High Court

of Orissa, to which AICTE and UGC were not parties, the

Supreme Court impleaded AICTE and UGC as parties while

issuing notices in the Special Leave Petitions.

(b) The status of deemed to be university was conferred

upon those four institutions named in the decision of the

Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation, keeping in view their

potential to offer academic programmes in specific domains of

knowledge, but they over stepped the jurisdiction to offer

programmes leading to award of degrees, which were not

within their field of specialization.

(c) By virtue of the power conferred by Section 16 r/w

Section 24 and second Schedule to IGNOU Act, 1985, a

Distance Education Council was constituted by a notification

dated 22.11.1991. Paragraph-4 of the notification

constituting DEC defined the powers and functions of the

Distance Education Council.

(d) UGC, DEC and AICTE as well as the Ministry of

Human Resources Development of the Government of India,

issued various notifications, circulars and guidelines, one of

which, viz., the UGC Regulations, stipulated that every

University enrolling students for the 1st degree course should

ensure that the actual number of teaching days does not go

below 180 in an academic year;

(e) Though the National Policy on Education, 1986

issued by the Government of India allowed technical and

management education programmes to be on a flexible

modular pattern and it also allowed programmes through

distance learning process, the National Policy made it clear

under para 6.19 of Part-6 that the AICTE will be responsible

for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and

standards, accreditation etc;

(f) AICTE Regulations, 1994 required the grant of

approval for any new technical institution or university

technical department;

(g) The Government of India issued a notification dated

01.03.1995 recognizing the qualifications awarded through

distance education by all universities and institutions deemed

to be universities, provided they have been approved by the

Distance Education Council and wherever necessary by

AICTE;

(h) DEC published a set of guidelines on 03.07.1997

and UGC issued a set of guidelines in 2004 that a deemed to

be university is normally authorized to operate within its own

campus to conduct the authorized courses falling within the

area of their specialization;

(i) As per UGC guidelines, deemed to be universities

could offer distance education programmes only with the

specific approval of the DEC and UGC.

79. It is significant to note that the decision in

Bharathidasan University was pressed into service before the

Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation. In

paragraph 20 of its decision (paragraph number indicated as

given in SCALE), the Supreme Court noted that the guidelines

and notifications issued by UGC, AICTE and the Government

of India after the decision in Bharathidasan University, went

on the presumption that prior approval of AICTE was not

required and that therefore they could grant ex post facto

approval. This ex post facto approval granted to J.R.N.

Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, IASE, AAT, VMRF was

found fault with by the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift

Irrigation, on the ground that they had not taken prior

permission and that none of them was having any regular

college or faculty in technology/engineering, in their own

campus.

80. Interestingly, the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift

Irrigation, took note of the 2005 Regulations of AICTE, issued

after the decision in Bharathidasan University. These

Regulations known as AICTE Grant of Approval for Starting

New Technical Institutions, Introduction of Courses or

Programmes and Increase/Variation of Intake Capacity of

Seats for the Courses or Programmes and Extension of

Approval for the Existing Technical Institutions and

Maintenance of Norms and Standards in Universities Including

Deemed To Be Universities Regulations, 2005, were issued on

28.11.2005. Paragraph 2.5 of these Regulations was extracted

in pargraph-21.G of the decision of the Supreme Court

(paragraph number indicated as given in SCALE) in Orissa

Lift Irrigation. Paragraph-2.5 of the AICTE Regulations, 2005

required prior approval for starting a new technical

institution, not only by Government, Government aided or

private institutions, but also by any university including

deemed to be universities. Paragraph 2.5 (3) of the AICTE

Regulations 2005 reads as follows:

No university including deemed to be

university shall conduct technical courses/

programmes without ensuring maintenance of

norms and standards prescribed by AICTE.

 

81. The AICTE Regulations 2005 are not under

challenge. Paragraph 2.5 (2) of the AICTE Regulations

2005 extracted by the Supreme Court in paragraph 21.G

of its decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation made it clear that

no existing technical institution of Government,

Government aided or private institution whether

affiliated or not affiliated to a university shall conduct

any technical course/programme without prior approval

of the Council.

82. Therefore, after the issue of 2005 Regulations,

which are not under challenge, the APTRANSCO thought fit to

issue T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11.09.2008, so that persons,

who hold degrees awarded by the university through a

programme approved by the AICTE alone became entitled to

service benefits arising out of the acquisition of such degrees.

83. In Orissa Lift Irrigation, the Supreme Court also took

note of the stand taken by UGC in the affidavit filed by them

to the effect that after the notification, dated 01.03.1995

issued by MHRD, UGC mandated the requirement of approval

of AICTE wherever necessary for programmes conducted by

institutions deemed to be universities leading to the award of

degrees in Engineering through ODL mode. In the same

affidavit, UGC also referred to a letter dated 29.07.2009

issued by MHRD requiring the erstwhile DEC to withdraw

permission given to various institutions to conduct B.Tech/

BE programmes through distance mode.

84. In fact, AICTE was also called upon to file an

affidavit before the Supreme Court. In an affidavit carefully

worded, so as to ensure not to be seen as offending the

decision in Bharathidasan University, AICTE took a stand

that the study centers and campuses of universities, which

were not the constituent units of the universities were

required to have prior approval of the AICTE for conducting

any technical course or programme. This could be seen from

paragraph 25 (paragraph number indicated as given in

SCALE) of the decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation.

85. More importantly, the Supreme Court extracted in

paragraph 26 (paragraph number indicated as given in

SCALE) of its decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation, the stand taken

by MHRD in the affidavit filed before the Court. In the

affidavit, MHRD pointed out that though the Distance

Education Council started giving recognition from the year

2007 for the conduct of technical programmes under the

distance mode, it was in contradiction to the policy adopted

by AICTE. The policy of the AICTE was to make it mandatory

to conduct technical programmes through the regular

(conventional) mode of education. The MHRD also pointed out

that in view of the conflict between the stand taken by DEC

and the stand taken by AICTE, a confusion was created

among the stakeholders which gave an unfair advantage to

unscrupulous institutions.

86. In paragraph 28 (paragraph number indicated as

given in SCALE) of its decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation, the

Supreme Court recorded the submission made by the amicus

curiae in his note, to the effect that there is a vast

difference between open distance learning in general

fields and those in specialized fields and that though the

Court held in Bharathidasan University that AICTE had no

power of granting approvals to universities, the Court

nevertheless recognized the role played by AICTE. In fact, the

very same stand was taken even by the UGC in their written

submissions to the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation.

This can be seen from paragraph 29 (paragraph number

indicated as given in SCALE) of the decision, where the

submission of the UGC that in Bharathidasan University,

the Court was not concerned with the question of

regulatory framework of open distance learning, was

recorded.

87. In the back drop of the stand taken by UGC, AICTE

and MHRD, the Supreme Court concluded in para-35

(paragraph number indicated as given in SCALE) of its

decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation that even post facto approvals

granted to institutions deemed to be universities were

opposed to the policy statements governing the matters in

issue. The Supreme Court the proceeded to discuss the ratio

in Bharathidasan University, from paragraph 37 (paragraph

number indicated as given in SCALE) onwards. In paragraph

38 (paragraph number indicated as given in SCALE), the

Supreme Court made certain observations, which are very

relevant for our purpose. They are extracted as follows:

38. Technical education leading to the award of

degrees in Engineering consists of imparting of

lessons in theory as well as practicals. The

practicals form the backbone of such education

which is hands-on approach involving actual

application of principles taught in theory under

the watchful eyes of Demonstrators or Lecturers.

Face to face imparting of knowledge in theory

classes is to be reinforced in practical classes.

The practicals, thus, constitute an integral part

of the technical education system. If this

established concept of imparting technical

education as a qualitative norm is to be modified

or altered and in a given case to be substituted by

distance education learning, then as a concept

the AICTE ought to have accepted it in clear

terms. What parameters ought to be satisfied if

the regular course of imparting technical

education is in any way to be modified or altered,

is for AICTE alone to decide. The decision must be

specific and unequivocal and cannot be inferred

merely because of absence of any Guidelines in

the matter. No such decision was ever expressed

by AICTE. On the other hand, it has always

maintained that courses leading to degrees in

Engineering cannot be undertaken through

distance education mode. Whether that approach

is correct or not is not the point in issue. For the

present purposes, if according to AICTE such

courses ought not to be taught in distance

education mode, that is the final word and is

binding unless rectified in a manner known to

law. Even National Policy on Education while

emphasizing the need to have a flexible, pattern

and programmes through distance education

learning in technical and managerial education,

laid down in Para 6.19 that AICTE will be

responsible for planning, formulation and

maintenance of norms and standards including

maintenance of parity of certification and

ensuring coordinated and integrated development

of technical and management education. In our

view whether subjects leading to degrees in

Engineering, could be taught in distance

education mode or not is within the exclusive

domain of the AICTE.

 

88. It is true that the Supreme Court recognized in

paragraph-43 (paragraph number indicated as given in

SCALE) of its decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation that

conceptually there is some difference between the status of a

university established under a State law and that of a deemed

to be university. However, the Supreme Court also noted the

change of perception that took place with the advent of the

decision in Annamalai University v. Secretary to

Government .

89. We have taken pains to analyze in extenso, the

decision of the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation, for the

simple reason that the sheet anchor of the case of the

management as well as the employees who secured degrees

through CCC mode is that the decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation

is limited in its application only to deemed to be universities.

But a careful analysis that we have done above, would show

that the Supreme Court formulated general principles, after

taking note of the detailed submissions made by DEC, UGC

and AICTE and applied those general principles to

institutions deemed to be universities. We have already

extracted the observations made in paragraph 38 of its

decision in Orissa Lift Irrigation. It was stated in no uncertain

terms by the Supreme court, in Orissa Lift Irrigation that

what parameters ought to be satisfied if the regular course

of imparting technical education is in any way to be modified

or altered, is for AICTE alone to decide. The decision must be

specific and unequivocal and cannot be inferred merely

because of absence of any Guidelines in the matter. No such

decision was ever expressed by AICTE. On the other hand, it

has always maintained that courses leading to degrees in

Engineering cannot be undertaken through distance

education mode. Whether that approach is correct or not is

not the point in issue. For the present purposes, if according

to AICTE such courses ought not to be taught in distance

education mode, that is the final word and is binding

unless rectified in a manner known to law. The principle

formulated in the last line namely that if according to AICTE,

such courses ought not to be taught in distance education

mode, that is the final word and is binding is not limited to

deemed to be universities.

90. As a matter of fact, similar sentiments were echoed

by the Supreme Court in Varun Saini also, though the same

concerned the relaxation of time schedule prescribed in

Parshvanath. The first paragraph of the decision in Varun

Saini stresses the sacro-sanctity of formal education in the

following words:

Education is the spine of any civilised society. Formal

education has its own significance, for it depends upon

systemic imparting of learning regard being had to the

syllabus prescribed for the course and further allowing

space for cultivation by individual endeavour. The

sacrosanctity of formal education gains more importance

in the field of technical studies because theory, practical

training and application in the field cumulatively operate

to make a student an asset to the country and, in a way,

enables him to achieve excellence as contemplated

under Article 51A of the Constitution. The natural

corollary, in the ultimate eventuate, is the acceleration of

the growth of the nation

Therefore, the contention of the managements of Andhra

Pradesh and Telangana TRANSCO and other corporations as

well as the individual employees, who secured degrees

through CCC mode from JNTUH, that AICTE has no role to

play in view of the decision in Bharathidasan University

cannot hold water any more, especially in the light of the

observations of the Supreme court in Orissa Lift Irrigation,

which we have extracted in para 87 above.

Contentions- 3 and 4 (Role of Distance Education Council

and AICTE both of which came into existence much later)

 

91. The third contention is that the Distance Education

Council was only a creation of the Statues of IGNOU and

hence the creature of a Statute of a University cannot have

control over a University created by a Statutory enactment.

The fourth contention is that since JNTU has been offering

degree courses in engineering through CCC mode from the

year 1983, even before DEC was born on 22.11.1991 under

the IGNOU Act, 1985 and even before the issue of the AICTE

Act, 1987, a requirement of approval from these two

authorities could not be imposed upon them.

92. It is true that the Indira Gandhi National Open

University was created by an Act of Parliament i.e., Act No. 50

of 1985. The object of the Act was to establish and

incorporate an Open University at the National level for the

introduction and promotion of an Open University and

distance education systems in the educational pattern of the

country and for the coordination and determination of

standards in such systems. The Act should be seen as one

enacted by the Parliament in terms of Entry No. 66 of List I of

the VII Schedule to the Constitution.

93. Section 4 of the IGNOU Act, 1985 speaks about the

objects of the university in the following terms:

The objects of the University shall be to advance

and disseminate learning and knowledge by a diversity of

means, including the use of any communication

technology, to provide opportunities for higher education

to a larger segment of the population and to promote the

educational well being of the community generally, to

encourage the Open University and distance

education systems in the educational pattern of the

country and to coordinate and determine the

standards in such systems, and the University shall, in

organising its activities, have due regard to the objects

specified in the First Schedule.

 

94. Section 5(1) of the IGNOU Act, 1985 enlists the

powers of the University. Sub-Section (2) of Section 5 vests

IGNOU with a duty to take all steps as it may deem fit for the

promotion of the Open University and distance education

systems and for the determination of standards of teaching,

evaluation and research in such systems. Sub-Section (2) of

Section 5 reads as follows:

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other

law for the time being in force, but without prejudice to

the provisions of sub-section (1), it shall be the duty of

the University to take all such steps as it may deem

fit for the promotion of the open university and

distance education systems and for the

determination of standards of teaching, evaluation

and research in such systems, and for the purpose of

performing this function, the University shall have such

powers, including the power to allocate and disburse

grants to Colleges, whether admitted to its privileges or

not, or to any other university or institution of higher

learning, as may be specified by the Statutes

 

95. A careful look at Sub-Sections (1) and (2) of Section

5 would show that while Sub-Section (1) lists out the powers

of the University, Sub-Section (2) speaks about the duty of

the University and the residual powers that the University will

have for the purpose of performing its duties and its

functions.

96. What is significant to note from the 2nd part of Sub-

Section (2) of Section 5 is that IGNOU was vested with such

powers, including the power to allot funds to colleges,

whether admitted to its privileges or not or to any other

University. Therefore the exercise of the powers by IGNOU

was not merely confined to the colleges admitted to the

privileges of the University, but also to other colleges as well

as any other University.

97. What is contained in the 2nd part of Sub-Section (2)

of Section 5 is also fortified by Section 6. Section 6 of the Act

as it originally stood reads as follows:

The University shall in the exercise of its powers

have jurisdiction over the whole of India and to the Study

Centres outside India.

98. Section 24 of the IGNOU Act, 1985 enlisted the

matters for which provision may be made in the Statutes of

the University. One of the matters included in the said list is

to be found in Clause (j) of Section 24 which reads as follows:

The coordination and determination of standards in the

Open University and distance education system and the

allocation and disbursement of grants to colleges and other

universities and institutions.

99. Keeping these statutory provisions in mind, if we

look at the birth of the Distance Education Council, it could

be seen that the Distance Education Council was constituted

in terms of Statute No. 28. Therefore prima facie it appears

that the Distance Education Council was created as an

Expert Body for the coordination and determination of

standards in the Open university and distance education

systems. This is why DEC started granting approvals to

various universities.

100. It could be seen from Section 25(1) and (2) that

while the first Statutes were set out in the II Schedule, the

power to make new or additional Statutes and the power to

amend or repeal the Statutes, was conferred upon the Board

of Management. But Section 40(2) of the Act required every

Statute made under the Act, to be laid before each House of

Parliament, before it can take effect.

101. Therefore it follows that the Constitution of DEC

under Statute No. 28 of the II Schedule to the Act, is to be

construed as something done by the Parliament. This Statute

No. 28 was repealed pursuant to the decision of the 40th DEC

and 115th BOM and the repeal received the approval of the

Visitor (The President of India) and was notified by the

Government of India on 04.05.2013.

102. It can be seen from a Notification bearing F. No. 1-

4/2013(cpp-II) dated 17.06.2013 that the Central

Government, in exercise of the powers conferred under

Section 20(1) of the UGC Act, 1956 issued a direction vide its

order dated 29.12.2010 that the UGC should act as a

regulator for higher education (excluding technical education)

through open and distance learning mode and that

universities offering any program/course in ODL mode shall

require recognition from the commission. Therefore the UGC

itself adopted, in exercise of power conferred by Section 12 of

the UGC Act, 1956, a set of guidelines earlier framed by DEC

under Statute No. 28 of the IGNOU Act, 1985 known as

Guidelines of DEC on Minimum Requirements for

Recognition of ODL Institutions.

103. Thus it is clear that UGC, DEC & AICTE were on

the same page, insofar as recognition of courses/programmes

offered under the ODL mode were concerned.

104. As we have pointed out earlier, the Supreme Court

discussed thread bear, the provisions of IGNOU Act, 1985

and the Notification dated 22.11.1991 constituting DEC in

exercise of the powers conferred under Section 16(6) read

with Section 24 and the II Schedule to IGNOU Act. The

Supreme Court took note of paragraph 4 of the Notification by

which DEC was constituted. The Supreme Court also took

note of the Notification of the Government of India dated

01.03.1995, by which all qualifications awarded through

distance education by all universities were declared as

recognised, provided they had been approved by the Distance

Education Council. The DEC itself had issued guidelines on

03.07.1997 itself in exercise of its Statutory functions.

105. Therefore at least after the issue of the Notification

of the Government of India dated 01.03.1995, JNTU should

have realised that they needed the approval of the DEC and

AICTE to offer degrees in technical education through CCC

mode. Unlike Bharathidasan University, Madras University

and Annamalai University, all the 3 of which took their fight

with AICTE or DEC or UGC to Courts, JNTU did not challenge

the validity of the Notification of the Government of India

dated 01.03.1995 on the ground that the requirement of

approval by DEC and/or AICTE infringed upon their

autonomy. Therefore the Board of Management of

APTRANSCO appears to have taken a conscious decision

before issuing T.O.O Ms. No. 134 dated 11.09.2008 that in

the light of the Notification of the Government of India dated

01.03.1995 it was not possible to recognise the degrees

offered through distance mode, if such programmes did not

have the approval of the DEC. Therefore we are of the

considered view that JNTU should have taken approval either

from AICTE & DEC or at least from AICTE and UGC before

offering degree courses in engineering through CCC mode.

Contention 5:

106. The last contention is that the admission of

students to the CCC mode by JNTU was through a limited

competitive examination, since the number of seats available

were very limited and that the students admitted to these

programmes have the same syllabus, undergo the course of

study for a duration of four years with 15 days in a year being

compulsory as a contact programme and that therefore these

degrees cannot be belittled.

107. This contention arises out of a misconception that

the degrees offered by JNTU are sought to be belittled. The

requirement for the driver of a car to fasten seat belt

does not arise out of a suspicion regarding his driving

skills. The requirement for a patient to undergo various

clinical tests for the purpose of diagnosis cannot be

taken as belittling the efficiency of a doctor. If there are

certain requirements in law to be fulfilled, the same should be

fulfilled. It may be apt to quote at this stage what Eduard

Christian Lindeman, said in his book The Meaning of Adult

Education the resource of highest value in adult

education is the learners experience. If education is life,

then life is also education. Too much of learning

consists of vicarious substitution of someone elses

experience and knowledge. Psychology is teaching us,

however, that we learn what we do and that therefore

all genuine education will keep doing and thinking

together.

108. Therefore as the Honble Supreme Court pointed

out in its opening remarks in Varun Saini, the sacrosanctity

of formal education gains more importance in the field of

technical studies because theory, practical training and

application in the field, cumulatively operate to make a

student an asset to the country. Therefore we wonder as to

how in a period of 15 days in a year, a student of a degree

course in technical education will be able to complete his

practicals and laboratory assignments. Hence the fifth

contention is also to be rejected.

109. One more contention advanced by the individuals

who acquired degrees through CCC mode is that the degrees

obtained by them are not under challenge and that their

degrees cannot be declared invalid in collateral proceedings.

110. This argument loses sight of the fact that we are

concerned in this batch of cases, a challenge to two different

sets of office orders issued by the managements of the

corporations. One set of office orders stated that the degrees

obtained through CCC mode will be recognised for the

purpose of service benefits, only if such degrees had the

approval of UGC, DEC & AICTE. Another set of office orders

had taken a contra view. It is these conflicting decisions of the

managements of Statutory corporations that are in question

in this batch of cases. Therefore we are not testing the validity

of the degrees awarded by the universities, but are testing

only the decision of the managements with regard to the

conditions for their recognition. Hence the last contention is

also flawed.

Contention regarding employers right

111. The last contention of Mr. G.Vidya Sagar, learned

Senior Counsel appearing for the Corporation is that the

employer has a right to prescribe the qualifications required

for appointment to a post and that a decision taken by the

employer in this regard is in the realm of a policy decision.

Therefore, the learned Senior Counsel contended that the

Court cannot interfere with such a policy decision, unless the

policy is found to be vitiated by established parameters.

112. We are in total agreement with the said contention

of the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the Telangana

Transmission Corporation. If only the employer has exercised

his right, without being trampled by one or the other group of

employees to take a decision in a particular way, we would

not be exercising our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the

Constitution of India at all over such matters. But what has

happened with this case, as we have repeatedly pointed out

earlier is that the policy decision taken by the employer

swung from one extreme to the other, depending upon the

weight of the pressure exerted by the employees, on and off

the Court. To begin with, the APTRANSCO issued T.O.O.Ms.

No.69, dated 06-7-2007, holding that the Degrees/Diplomas

awarded through distance mode shall not be recognized

unless they were recognized by UGC, DEC and AICTE. It was

followed by T.O.O.Ms.No.195, dated 14-12-2007. Then came

T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, making it clear that the

Degrees/Diplomas secured through distance mode will not be

recognized unless they have had the approval of UGC, DEC

and AICTE. This T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, was

reaffirmed in T.O.O.Ms.No.186, dated 27-10-2008.

113. If the managements of the Corporations had stuck

to these orders on the ground that they are a reflection of the

policy decisions taken by the employer, all these problems

could have been solved. But the aforesaid office orders were

diluted by T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated 17-4-2015. When one

group of employees opposed this dilution, immediately the

Corporation issued T.O.O.Ms.No.101, dated 26-5-2015,

putting on hold T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated 17-4-2015. But when

the other groups of employees put pressure, T.O.O.Ms.

No.385, dated 17-02-2017, was issued affirming T.O.O.Ms.

No.83. This was followed by T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated

13-10-2017.

114. If the employer was genuine in asserting their right

to prescribe the qualifications required for a particular post,

they could not have wavered from one extreme to the other.

If T.O.O.Ms.No.134 is at one end of the spectrum, T.O.O.Ms.

No.151 is at the other end of the same spectrum. We do not

know how the employer is still under the impression that they

have the freedom and free will to formulate a policy decision,

when history shows that within seven years, they have turned

the policy upside down two to three times.

115. As a matter of fact, we wanted to recognize the

absolute freedom enjoyed by the employer in deciding the

qualifications necessary for appointment or promotion to any

post. But before doing so, we wanted to put to test, the extent

to which the employer is in a position to assert their rights.

Therefore, on the last date of hearing, we requested the

learned Senior Counsel appearing for TSTRANSCO and the

Northern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Ltd., to

find out (i) whether during the period from the date of issue

of T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, up to the date of issue

of T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated 13-10-2017, any promotions were

given to candidates who had secured Degrees through CCC

mode and (ii) whether T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated 13-10-2017,

by which the decision in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008

was reversed, would be implemented prospectively or

retrospectively.

116. In response to the queries, the Joint Secretary,

TSTRANSCO, addressed a communication to the learned

Senior Counsel in Lr.No.Jt.Secy/DS(Per.II)/AS(IR&R)/

PO(Regulation)/JPO/38/ 2016, dated ..-12-2017. It will be

useful to extract the contents of the said letter as follows:

Point

No.

Issue

Reply

1

Subsequent to issuance of TOO Ms.

No.134, dt.11-9-2008, TOO

Ms.No.186, dt.27-10-2008 till the

issuance of TOO Ms.No.151, dt.13-10-

2017, whether promotions are given

to Graduates who acquired the

qualification from JNTU through CCC

mode and diploma holders under CCC

mode from SBTET

YES. Subsequent to

issuance of TOO Ms.

No.134, dt.11-9-

2008, TOO

Ms.No.186, dt.27-10-

2008 till the

issuance of TOO Ms.

No.151, dt.03-10-

2017 promotions

were given to

Graduates who were

admitted during

2009 and acquired

the qualification

from JNTU through

CCC mode and

Diploma Holders

under CCC mode

from SBTET.

2

Whether any reversions are made to

the persons who are promoted with

qualifications from JNTUH (CCC

mode)/ SBTET Diplomas (CCC mode)

after the orders of the Court in

various writ petitions.

NO

3

Whether the reversion orders issued

to the degree holders from JNTUH/

Diploma holders under CCC mode

have been challenged in the Honble

High Court and if so what is the

status of the said cases.

NO

4

What is the decision of the

TRANSCO/ DISCOMS with regard to

the date of implementation of TOO

Ms.No.151, dt.13-10-2017, i.e.,

whether it would be prospective from

13-10-2017 or w.e.f. 11-9-2008

11-9-2008

5

If TOO Ms.No.151, dt.13-10-2017 is

upheld along with TOO Ms.No.134,

dt.11-9-2008, whether the degree

holders from JNTUH would be

entitled to promotions, if so, from

what date

YES

6

Whether the TRANSCO/DISCOMS

have obtained details with regard to

the number of personnel working in

the organization who have

qualifications of B.Tech. from

JNTUH/Diplomas from SBTET

through CCC mode

NO

 

117. Similarly, the Northern Power Distribution

Company of Telangana Limited has also sent a

communication dated 17-12-2017 to the learned Senior

Counsel, giving their response. Paragraphs-1 to 5 of the said

letter read as follows:

1. Promotions and appointment by transfers were

given after issuance of T.O.O.Ms.No.134 Dt: 11-09-2008 to

the graduates who acquired the qualification from JNTU

through Correspondence-cum-contract mode and diploma

holder through Correspondence-cum-contract mode from

SBTET till December, 2015.

2. No reversions are made in respect of above

mentioned candidates after the orders of the Court in

various writ petitions. However no further promotions are

effected to the Correspondence-cum-contract holders after

issuance of Court orders.

3. No reversion orders were issued to the employees

promoted/appointed by transfer on acquiring degree from

JNTUH/Diploma from SBTET under CCC mode so far.

4. It is decided to implement the orders issued in

TOO 151, Dt. 13-10-2017 with retrospective effect from 11-

09-2008 i.e. date of issue of T.O.O.Ms.No.134, Dt: 11-09-

2008.

5. The degree holders from JNTUH will be entitled for

promotions with effect from various dates on which their

juniors were considered for promotion/appointment by

transfer.

118. The response of TSTRANSCO as well as NPDC of

Telangana Ltd., actually brought the cat out of the bag. From

the response it is clear that T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-

2008, is decided to be scrapped retrospectively by giving effect

to T.O.O.Ms.No.151 retrospectively. This shows that the

policy decision taken by the Transmission Corporation in the

year 2008 under T.O.O. Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, can be

thrown to the winds.

119. In fact, we have a few writ petitions challenging

T.O.O.Ms.No.134. The defence originally taken by the

Corporation to the challenge to T.O.O.Ms.No.134 was that it

was a policy decision. Now TSTRANSCO does not have

objection to that policy decision of the year 2008 being set at

naught.

120. In other words, the Corporation is now guilty of

taking two conflicting stands. It is alright for the Corporation

to set aside one policy decision reflected in T.O.O.Ms.No.134,

dated 11-9-2008, but it is not alright for the Corporation to

interfere with another policy decision reflected in T.O.O.Ms.

No.151, dated 13-10-2017. To put it differently, the only

policy of these corporations is to be inconsistent in their

policies.

121. Thus the sanctity attached by the Corporation

itself to its policy decisions has now become too obvious. In

fact, the reply to query No.1 extracted above would show that

T.O.O. Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, issued by way of policy

decision, was observed more in breach than in compliance

and hence the Corporation does not mind the policy decision

in T.O.O.Ms.No.134 being set aside. In such circumstances,

we are of the considered view that employers who are not

consistent in their policies, but make policies as matters

of convenience to satisfy one or the other group of

employees and employers who are prepared to sacrifice

one policy for upholding a diametrically opposite policy,

do not have the moral authority to contend that the

Court cannot interfere with policy decisions. Hence, the

last contention is also rejected.

122. Having answered the two questions that we have

formulated in paragraph-1 of this judgment, we shall now

take up the individual cases, to record our opinion.

Writ Petition No.22385 of 2014:

123. The petitioners in this writ petition secured

a B.Tech Degree through CCC mode while they were in

service, during the academic year 2008-09. All of them

completed their Degree courses in December, 2012 or May,

2013. It is interesting to note that the petitioners are working

in Kadapa but they claim to have attended classes in a study

centre at Tirupati. Their actual grievance is that they were not

considered for appointment by transfer as Sub Engineers on

account of a ban imposed under S.O.O.No.19, dated

12-02-2014.

124. But at the outset, the order impugned in the writ

petition viz., S.O.O.No.19, dated 12-02-2014, does not talk

about promotions or appointments by transfer. It merely

speaks about discontinuance of the sanction of increments

for possessing higher qualifications. Paragraph-7 of S.O.O.

No.19, dated 12-02-2014, makes it very clear that the said

office order deals only with the question of sanction of

increments for acquiring higher qualifications.

125. Therefore, the petitioners in this writ petition

appear to have challenged an order that does not deal with

promotions or recruitment by transfer. Insofar as the

increments are concerned, paragraph-7 of S.O.O.No.19 shows

that the discontinuance of the increments was ordered under

T.O.O.Ms.No.174, dated 10-9-2013 and T.O.O.Ms.No.5, dated

08-01-2014. These two office orders are not under challenge.

126. Therefore, the petitioners have challenged a wrong

order which does not deal with promotions. Even the order

challenged is only an order that reiterated earlier orders

which are not under challenge. In any case, the petitioners

secured part-time degrees during the period 2009-12.

Therefore, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed.

Accordingly, it is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.27569 of 2014:

127. This writ petition is filed by persons who passed

Diploma in Electrical Engineering on full-time basis and who

got appointed thereafter as Sub Engineers by way of direct

recruitment. Their grievance is that in violation of T.O.O.

Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008, persons who secured Diploma

through CCC mode were being appointed by promotion/

transfer as Sub Engineers/Additional Assistant Engineers.

128. This writ petition deserves to be allowed on two

grounds. The first is that we have already held that the

Diplomas secured through CCC mode without the approval of

DEC and AICTE are not valid.

129. Even assuming that our opinion on this issue is

wrong, the Corporation could not have violated their own

policy decision in T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008.

The order T.O.O.Ms.No.151, dated 13-10-2017, does not and

cannot validate the violation of T.O.O.Ms.No.134, at least

until the date of issue of T.O.O.Ms.No.151. Therefore, on both

grounds, W.P.No.27569 of 2014 deserves to be allowed.

Accordingly, it is allowed.

 

 

Writ Petition No.39900 of 2014:

130. This writ petition is filed by persons who secured

a Diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering through

CCC mode. On the basis of the said qualification, they were

appointed as Sub Engineers by recruitment by transfer in the

years 2007 and 2009. But their names were deleted from the

eligibility list, by order dated 19-12-2014, since their

recruitment by transfer was obviously in violation of T.O.O.

Ms.No.134. Therefore, they have come up with the above writ

petition challenging the deletion of their names.

131. This writ petition deserves to be dismissed, since

their appointment by transfer to the post of Sub Engineer was

ordered during the period when T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated

11-9-2008, was in force. The Diplomas secured by them

through CCC mode, were not recognizable. Hence, this writ

petition is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.40278 of 2014:

132. The case of the petitioners in this writ petition is

exactly identical to the case of the petitioners in

W.P.No.39900 of 2014. The petitioners herein also secured

Diploma through CCC mode while in service, got appointed as

Sub Engineers by the method of recruitment by transfer in

the year 2008 and their names got deleted in the year 2014

on account of the prescriptions issued in T.O.O.Ms.No.134.

Therefore, this writ petition is also dismissed.

Writ Petition No.357 of 2015:

133. The petitioners herein secured a Diploma through

CCC mode while they were in service and they are aggrieved

by the non-inclusion of their names in a list of Sub Engineers

who have completed five years of service. Their non-inclusion

was on account of T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008. We

have already found that T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008,

deserves to be upheld. Therefore, as a consequence, the

impugned memo dated 19-12-2014 also deserves to be

upheld. Hence, W.P.No.357 of 2015 is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.11575 of 2015:

134. This writ petition challenges T.O.O.Ms.No.83,

dated 17-4-2015. By T.O.O.Ms.No.83, dated 17-4-2015, the

APTRANSCO diluted T.O.O.Ms.No.186, dated 27-10-2008.

Since T.O.O.Ms.No.186, dated 27-10-2008, merely reiterates

T.O.O.Ms.No.134, dated 11-9-2008 and since we have upheld

the validity of T.O.O.Ms.No.134, this writ petition deserves to

be allowed. Accordingly, it is allowed.

Writ Petition No.12356 of 2015:

 

135. This Writ Petition challenges T.O.O Ms. No. 83

dated 17.04.2015. In other words the prayer in this Writ

Petition is the same as the prayer in WP. No. 11575 of 2015.

Therefore this Writ Petition is also allowed

 

 

 

 

Writ Petition No.17519 of 2015:

 

136. The prayer in this Writ Petition is for directing the

respondents to strictly follow T.O.O Ms. No. 134 dated

11.09.2008. We have already indicated that T.O.O Ms. No.

134 dated 11.09.2008 reflects the correct position. Therefore

this Writ Petition is allowed.

Writ Petition No.26730 of 2015:

 

137. This Writ Petition is filed by persons who

completed a degree or diploma in the regular stream.

Therefore they have come up with the above Writ Petition

seeking implementation of N.O.O. Ms. No. 181 dated

18.09.2008 issued by the Northern Power Distribution

Company of Andhra Pradesh Ltd to the effect that

degrees/diplomas offered through CCC mode can be

recognised only if they had the approval of UGC, AICTE and

DEC. This Office Order N.O.O. Ms. No.181 is just a mirror

image of T.O.O Ms. No. 134. Therefore this Writ Petition

deserves to be allowed. Accordingly it is allowed.

Writ Petition No.30669 of 2015:

 

138. The petitioners in this Writ Petition secured a

diploma in Electrical Engineering in the regular stream and

thereafter got appointment. They have challenged in this Writ

Petition, the promotions granted in violation of T.O.O Ms. No.

101 dated 26.05.2015. Therefore for the elaborate reasons

contained earlier, this Writ Petition deserves to be allowed.

Accordingly it is allowed.

Writ Petition No.32533 of 2015:

 

139. The petitioners in this Writ Petition secured

diplomas through CCC mode after joining service. They have

challenged T.O.O Ms.No.101 dated 26.05.2015. Since T.O.O

Ms.No.101 dated 26.05.2015 restored T.O.O Ms.No.134 dated

11.09.2008, this Writ Petition should go. Accordingly it is

dismissed.

Writ Petition No.32570 of 2015:

 

140. This Writ Petition challenges T.O.O Ms.No.101

dated 26.05.2015. Therefore following the order in previous

Writ Petition i.e., WP No. 32533 of 2015, this Writ Petition is

also dismissed.

Writ Petition No.37567 of 2015:

 

141. The petitioners in this Writ Petition secured a

diploma through the regular stream. They have come up with

the above Writ Petition challenging the action of the

respondents in not considering their cases for promotion/

appointment by transfer as Sub-engineers but in considering

the cases of those who secured diploma through CCC mode.

142. In view of the discussion contained in the main

part of this order, this Writ Petition deserves to be allowed.

Accordingly it is allowed and the respondents are directed to

consider the cases of the petitioners for appointment as

Sub-engineers. But their claim for promotion from the date on

which their juniors got promoted with all consequential

benefits is rejected.

Writ Petition No.40048 of 2015:

 

143. The petitioners secured a degree or diploma in the

regular stream and thereafter got appointed as

Sub-engineers. They have challenged in the above Writ

Petition, the action of the respondents in posting as in-charge

Additional Assistant Engineers, persons who secured

diploma/degree through CCC mode.

144. In view of our findings on the core issues raised in

the Writ Petitions. This Writ Petition is allowed and the

respondents are directed to consider the cases of the

petitioners for promotion, as per their seniority and in terms

of the rules.

Writ Petition No.40338 of 2015:

 

145. The petitioners secured degree/diploma in the

regular steam and thereafter got appointment. They have

come up with the above Writ Petition challenging the action of

the respondents in not following T.O.O. Ms. No. 134 dated

11.09.2008 as illegal.

146. In view of our finding upholding T.O.O. Ms. No.

134 dated 11.09.2008, this Writ Petition deserves to be

allowed. Accordingly it is allowed. But all benefits will only be

prospective and not retrospective.

Writ Petition No.40441 of 2015:

 

147. The petitioners secured diploma through CCC

mode, after their appointment. They have come up with the

above Writ Petition challenging the action of the respondents

in not promoting them as Additional Assistant Engineers.

They also seek a consequential direction to the respondents

to treat the diplomas secured through CCC mode as valid.

148. In view of the reasonings that we have given from

paras 1 to 120, this Writ Petition deserves to be dismissed.

Accordingly it is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.12086 of 2016:

 

149. This Writ Petition challenges T.O.O Ms. No. 134

dated 11.09.2008. We have indicated in the main part of this

Order that this Office Order was issued by taking note of

various factors and that T.O.O Ms. No. 134 was perfectly

valid. Hence this Writ Petition is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.12269 of 2016:

 

150. This Writ Petition also challenges T.O.O Ms.No.

134 and T.O.O Ms.No.186 as well as N.O.O No.181 issued by

the Northern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Ltd.

Obviously the petitioners acquired a degree through CCC

mode.

151. In fact the Office Orders Too Ms. No 134, T.O.O

Ms.No.186 and N.O.O No.181 were all issued in September

and October of the year 2008. The petitioners have come up

with a challenge to these Office Orders in the year 2016, after

securing promotion in violation of the impugned Office

Orders. At least two of the four Writ Petitioners secured the

degree only after the impugned Office Order T.O.O Ms. No

134. Therefore apart from the reasonings that we have given

in paras 1 to 120 above, this Writ Petition deserves to be

dismissed both on the ground of laches and on the ground

that the petitioners secured promotions in violation of the

impugned policy decision and two of them secured degrees

through CCC mode while the impugned orders were in force.

Writ Petition No.12271 of 2016:

 

152. This Writ Petition is exactly similar to WP No.

12269 of 2016. Therefore the same also deserves to be

dismissed for the very same reasons. Accordingly it is

dismissed.

Writ Petition No.14723 of 2016:

 

153. The petitioners acquired diplomas and degrees

through CCC mode. Therefore they have come up with the

above Writ Petition seeking a declaration that the degree

courses secured through CCC mode are valid.

154. For the reasons stated in the main part of this

judgment, this Writ Petition is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.22227 of 2016:

 

155. This Writ Petition challenges the action of the

respondents in not following T.O.O Ms. No. 134 dated

11.09.2008. Since we have upheld this Office Order, this Writ

Petition deserves to be allowed. Accordingly it is allowed. The

respondents shall consider the case of the petitioners for

promotion, but with prospective effect.

Writ Petition No.36087 of 2016:

 

156. The prayer in this Writ Petition is similar to WP No.

22227 of 2016. Therefore this Writ Petition is allowed with a

direction to consider their cases for promotion. But the

benefits will only be prospective.

Writ Petition No.7999 of 2017:

 

157. The petitioners herein secured diplomas in the

regular stream and thereafter got appointed. They came up

with the above Writ Petition challenging T.O.O Ms. No. 385

dated 17.02.2017, by which T.O.O Ms. No. 83 dated

17.04.2015 was reiterated. Subsequently they got their prayer

amended so as to challenge T.O.O Ms. No. 83 as violative of

Section 10 of the AICTE Act and section 22 of the UGC Act.

158. In the light of the above discussion in the main

portion of this order, this Writ Petition deserves to be allowed

and accordingly it is allowed.

Writ Petition No.15103 of 2017:

 

159. The petitioners challenge T.O.O Ms. No 134 dated

11.09.2008 in this Writ Petition. They also challenge the

consequential order passed in C.O.O No. 377 dated

27.09.2008.

160. We have dealt with the challenge to T.O.O Ms. No.

134 in the main part of this order. Therefore for the reasons

contained therein, this Writ Petition deserves to be dismissed.

Accordingly it is dismissed.

Writ Petition No.17527 of 2017:

 

161. This Writ Petition challenges the action of the

respondents in purporting to cancel the promotions given to

the petitioners in violation of T.O.O. Ms. No 134. Since we

have upheld T.O.O Ms. No. 134, this Writ Petition should fail

as a consequence.

Writ Petition No.34857 of 2017:

 

162. This Writ Petition is filed by a person who secured

a degree in engineering in the regular stream. He challenges

T.O.O. Ms. No. 151 dated 13.10.2017.

163. In the main part of this order we had given reasons

as to why T.O.O Ms. No.134 is to be upheld and as a

consequence T.O.O Ms. No. 151 has to be set aside. Therefore

this Writ Petition is allowed

Writ Appeal No.1683 of 2017:

 

164. This Writ Appeal arises out of an Interim order

passed in WP No. 34857 of 2017. Since we have allowed WP

No. 34857 of 2017, nothing survives in this Writ Appeal.

Hence it is closed.

 

 

 

 

Contempt Case No.1693 of 2015:

 

165. This Contempt Petition arises out of an Interim

order passed by a learned single Judge in WP No. 12356 of

2015. Since the main Writ Petition itself has been disposed of

by this order. Hence we close this Contempt Petition with a

direction to the respondents at least to implement the final

order passed herein.

Contempt Case No.2489 of 2016:

 

166. This Contempt Petition arises out of an Interim

order passed by a learned single Judge in WP No. 36087 of

2016, not to effect promotions contrary to T.O.O Ms. No. 134.

Since the main Writ Petition itself has been disposed of by

this order, we close this Contempt Petition with a direction to

the respondents at least to implement the final order passed

herein.

167. Wherever there are impleading petitions and

applications for amendment, they are allowed. All other

miscellaneous petitions are closed.

___________________________

V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN, J.

___________________

M.GANGA RAO, J.

19th January, 2018.