"You (UGC) file a written submission as to which experts committee suggested to bring down the number of seats of research scholars per faculty," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked.
The direction was issued during the hearing of a plea challenging UGC's admission norms for MPhil and PhD courses in the country.
The Students' Federation of India (SFI) has moved the court challenging the constitutional validity of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil and PhD degree) Regulations 2016 which came into effect from July 5, 2016.
The students' body has 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 MPhil and PhD courses from JNU have challenged the regulations.
The students and the SFI have contended that the regulations have resulted in a massive cut in seats for the MPhil and PhD courses for the 2017-18 academic year.
Their petition said 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 come down due to the capping of the number of students per research supervisor for MPhil and PhD courses, the petition has submitted.
It has contended that the cap was put without consulting or informing students and without improving infrastructure.
The petitioners have 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 (oral) exam.
Apart from striking down of the regulations, they have sought filling up of the vacancies in the posts of Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors to avoid reduction of seats in MPhil and PhD courses in the 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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