Using ‘University’ tag by unrecognized institution punishable: HC

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Upholding a lower court order of imposing a fine of Rs 500 on an unrecognised institution for using word “University” for itself, the Delhi High Court said such a move violates the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act.

Rejecting the plea of JK Soni who is running an institute with the name of “Commercial University Limited” at Daryaganj, Delhi, Justice Mukta Gupta said “Reading of the sections makes it amply clear that a university means one established or incorporated by a Central Act or a State Act or the one which is declared by the Central government on the advice of the UGC by way of a notification in the official gazette. The petitioner’s does not fall in any of the categories specified.”

The petitioner was acquitted of the charges of cheating the students, but was convicted and fined Rs 500 for violating the UGC Act.

“During the course of trial, witnesses were examined both by the prosecution and the defence. The UGC has stated that the petitioner’s company is neither recognised by the UGC nor established by the Legislature. They have produced the list of recognised universities and listed 27 fake universities wherein the name of petitioner’s company was also mentioned.”

“On basis of material evidence on record, the petitioner was convicted for offence under Section 24 of the UGC Act for using the word “university” in violation of Section 23 of the UGC Act,” Justice Gupta said.

The contravention of the UGC Act is a “strict liability offence” and the offender is liable to be fined which may extend to Rs 5,000.