Delhi HC seeks UGC, DU response on contempt plea

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has sought responses from the University Grant Commission and Delhi University on a plea seeking contempt action against them for allegedly not complying with its decision to appoint an ‘ombudsman’ in all varsities for redressal of students’ grievances. Justice V Kameswar Rao issued notices to the UGC and DU seeking their replies on the plea and listed the matter for hearing on May 14.

The high court had last year directed the UGC to set up a system to redress the grievances of students in all varsities, including DU, within four months.

It had directed the DU to “take necessary steps forthwith and appoint the ombudsman” expeditiously in terms of provisions of the UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations of 2012.

The contempt petition filed by Brajesh Singh, an advocate, alleged deliberate and willful non-compliance of the court’s February 3, 2017 order, which had said that the failure of universities to appoint an ombudsman or constitute a Grievance Redressal Committees (GRC) for colleges would defeat the very object of the grievance redressal mechanism provided under the regulations.

“Over the time, GRC constituted by the varsity (DU) is merely a dead paper body in the absence of the office of ombudsman and due to willful disobedience by the contemnors. Due to non-functioning of the Grievance Redressal Regulations, 2012, students of the varsity are compelled to take remedy from this court by filing writ petitions for their genuine grievances,” the contempt plea claimed.

The high court had in its last year’s order observed that all colleges and universities in the country need to have a mechanism to redress the grievances of students.

It had said that appointment of an ‘ombudsman’ in every university and a GRC for every college or group of colleges was “mandatory” and provided for under the Regulations.

The court had passed the ruling while disposing of a PIL filed by a former law student, alleging non-compliance of the UGC regulations with regard to appointment of ombudsman by universities, particularly the DU.

As per the regulations, the ombudsman “shall be a part-time officer appointed for a period of three years or until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier”, the bench had noted in its judgement.