Authority of University Syndicate in Affiliation Matters

In a recent legal case, the court delved into the intricacies of the authority vested in the University Syndicate regarding college affiliation matters. The judgment not only clarified the Syndicate’s role but also highlighted the importance of adhering to regulations in higher education institutions. This analysis sets a benchmark for future cases involving similar issues in the realm of university affiliations and standards. Let’s dive into the court’s detailed legal reasoning and its implications on the education sector.


  • The State of Kerala has seen significant growth in self-financing Engineering Institutions in the past two decades.
  • There are currently 149 Engineering Colleges in Kerala with a total annual intake of 47,420 seats, in addition to six Central Government Engineering Institutions.
  • The APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015 was enacted to regulate technical education in the state.
  • A dispute arose over the affiliation of a new B.Tech course by a self-financing Engineering College, leading to legal proceedings.
  • A study revealed a decline in student intake in self-financing engineering colleges, impacting the decision-making process for affiliation.
  • The government issued orders and Syndicate resolutions setting criteria for granting affiliations to new programs in engineering colleges.
  • The first respondent College filed a writ petition seeking affiliation for a new course, challenging previous orders and resolutions.
  • Simultaneously, the Syndicate of the University held multiple meetings to address the issue of granting affiliations.
  • Various criteria were proposed and considered by the Syndicate and sub-committees for granting affiliations to colleges for new programs.
  • Recommendations were made to the Syndicate to favorably consider applications from 21 institutions for new programs or additional intakes.
  • Syndicate lacked the power to take decisions on certain dates due to absence of University Statute.
  • Vice-Chancellor alone had the power to make recommendations in affiliation matters.
  • University cannot exceed AICTE Regulations.
  • Syndicate has the authority to set norms for affiliation as per University Act.
  • Norms fixed by Syndicate on 04.02.2020 apply to both programs and courses.
  • NOC from State Government and NBA accreditation no longer required as per Syndicate resolution on 24.06.2020.
  • State Government Order dated 22.06.2019 set aside as a consequence.
  • Recommendation in Annexure 1 and Clause 7 of Annexure 14 of Approval Process Handbook need to be considered in decision-making.
  • Creation of additional seats discouraged, emphasis on conversion to emerging technologies.
  • Accreditation made mandatory for intake increase/starting new courses as per Annexure 14 of Approval Process Handbook.
  • Affiliation can be granted to colleges without NBA accreditation if certain criteria are met.

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  • The High court relied on various decisions to hold that the University did not have the power to incorporate additional conditions for affiliation.
  • The decisions cited were Jaya Gokul Educational Trust vs. Commissioner & Secretary to Government Higher Education Department, Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala State and Another; Mata Gujri Memorial Medical College vs. State of Bihar and Others; and Rungta Engineering College, Bhilai vs. Chattisgarh Swami Vivekanand Technical University and Another.
  • It was argued that these decisions are distinguishable from the current case.

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  • The University Act empowers the Syndicate with various functions related to affiliation and recognition of colleges and institutions.
  • The Act outlines the objectives of the University including improving academic standards, research programs, and learning skills of students.
  • Section 60 of the Act specifies the criteria for granting affiliation to institutions.
  • Affiliated colleges must comply with certain conditions laid down by the University.
  • Section 8 details the powers and functions of the University, including laying down norms for colleges, holding examinations, and recommending government intervention when necessary.
  • The Vice-Chancellor can issue directions in emergencies but needs Board approval for regulations in the absence of Statutes.
  • The continuation of affiliation is subject to adherence to Statutes or Regulations.
  • Degrees and diplomas awarded by the University are recognized by other universities, with exceptions for certain specialized institutions.
  • In case of dispute, the Chancellor’s decision is final.
  • The absence of Statutes until their creation on 07.08.2020 did not invalidate the exercise of power under Section 30(2).
  • Section 14(6) grants the Vice Chancellor the authority to regulate matters in the absence of Statutes.
  • The power of the Syndicate to propose norms and standards for affiliation stems from Section 30(2)(iii) of the Act.
  • The University’s reliance on Statute No.93 for affiliation conditions was justified.
  • The AICTE’s role is advisory and guiding, not regulatory, in relation to Universities.
  • The AICTE’s Regulations focus on self-disclosure by colleges for approvals.
  • The Syndicate’s authority to set norms and standards was not nullified by the absence of Statutes.
  • The High Court’s interpretation of the Vice Chancellor’s powers under Section 14(6) was deemed erroneous.
  • The Syndicate’s resolutions on affiliation norms were upheld even prior to the Statutes’ creation.
  • The statutory powers of AICTE were intended to regulate and maintain standards in technical education.
  • State laws prescribing higher percentage of marks for extra-curricular activities in college admissions do not encroach on the field covered by Entry 66 of List-I.
  • The State Government can decline admission to students not meeting minimum AICTE standards.
  • The main objective of eligibility criteria is to maintain excellence in higher education standards.
  • Unfilled seats in a year do not nullify the eligibility criteria set by the State/University.
  • AICTE cannot undermine the autonomy of Universities in areas within their jurisdiction.
  • Prescribing enhanced norms by Universities is permissible within the set standards of AICTE.
  • A State law providing standards must not excessively encroach upon Central regulations to be deemed unconstitutional.
  • Prescribing higher admission standards than AICTE does not adversely impact established standards.
  • Periodic review of eligibility criteria is important to balance excellence in education and available seats.
  • State Acts supporting Parliamentary Acts are not considered encroachments.
  • Universities have the power to prescribe enhanced norms and standards within the framework set by AICTE.
  • They cannot dilute the standards set by AICTE, but can set higher benchmarks.
  • The appeal in this case is allowed, and the High Court’s judgment is set aside.
  • The view taken by the Kerala High Court on issue no.2 is deemed unsustainable.

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  • Resolution passed by the Syndicate on 24.06.2020 is upheld.
  • Consequential actions related to the first respondent-College are upheld.
  • Applications for impleadment/intervention are dismissed.
  • Any other pending applications shall stand disposed of.


Case Number: C.A. No.-004016-004016 / 2020

Click here to read/download original judgement

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