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The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Centre on a plea challenging UGC's admission norms for M. Phil and Ph. D courses in the country. A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra also issued notice to the UGC and Jawaharlal Nehru University seeking their replies on the Students' Federation of India's (SFI) plea against UGC norms. The bench has directed the authorities to file an affidavit on April 28 with regard to the contentions raised in the writ petition by the students' body. The SFI had moved the apex court on April 10 challenging the constitutional validity of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M. Phil and Ph. D degree) Regulations 2016 which came into effect from July 5, 2016. The students body termed the regulations as "irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary" and alleged that they were contrary to the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy. Apart from the SFI, three students -- one from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and two from the Delhi University (DU) -- who aspire to pursue M. Phil and Ph.
D courses from JNU challenged the regulations along with the students body. The students and the SFI have contended that the regulations have resulted in a massive cut in seats for the M. Phil and Ph. D courses for the 2017-18 academic year. Their petition says that compared to 970 seats in the last academic year for these two degrees, this year the number of seats has dropped to 102. The seats have reduced due to capping of the number of students per research supervisor for M. Phil and Ph. D courses, the petition has submitted. It has contended that the cap was put without consulting or informing students and without improving infrastructure. The petitioners challenged various provisions of the regulations including those laying down a minimum percentage requirement of 55 per cent for general category and 50 per cent for reserved category as well as the 100 per cent weightage given to viva-voce exam. Apart from striking down of the regulations, they have also sought filling up of the vacancies in the posts of Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors to avoid reduction of seats in M. Phil and Ph. D courses in the current academic year (2017-18). As per JNU's admission prospectus for the current academic year, the last date for submitting applications was April 5.
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