Soon it’s expected that the new Maharashtra Public Universities Act may finally be implemented in the State. This is so because the 21-member legislative committee headed by Education Minister Vinod Tawde, which was assigned the task to scrutinise the draft Bill, concluded that the draft bill was ready to be tabled in the legislature and the Act will be revised for the first time in two decades. The committee comprising of several representatives of major political parties was set up to scrutinise the draft of the Bill, proposed in 2011, that will govern all non-agricultural universities in the state.
The committee will table its report along with the new draft, wherein certain changes have been incorporated by the committee. If the Act is passed, bodies such as the Board of College and University Development, the Board of Examination can function better. Moreover, the Act will give the University some power over affiliated colleges. “In the absence of an Act, there was no control over newly affiliated colleges,” said Subhash Athawale, Presient of Mumbai University and College Teachers Association. “The grievance committee is an important body to address students’ problems. Several cases have not been heard and other decisions taken by the committee earlier have not been implemented,” Athawale added.
With the new Act, student union elections may also see a comeback. Last year in August, the state government had asked the universities to halt elections to its statutory bodies after their term ended. The Act, if passed, will set in motion several administrative and management bodies of several universities in the state that have been deemed redundant for over a year. In the University of Mumbai, bodies such as the senate, the grievance committee and management council have not been able to function. The stakeholders hope that the new Act will bring back the democratic functioning of universities.
On the other hand, Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh said that the new draft may not be valid in the next five years, and even said that he hadn’t seen the draft approved by the committee. Tapati Mukhopadhyay, president of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, said, “The new act should ensure representation of teachers, principals, management and graduates proportionate to their numbers.”