Clarification of UGC Recognition for TIET, Patiala B.Tech. Degree – Supreme Court Judgement

The Supreme Court recently delivered a crucial judgement regarding the recognition of B.Tech. degrees from TIET, Patiala for diploma holders working in the Government of Punjab. The petitioners sought clarification from UGC on the validity of their degrees, leading to a significant legal ruling on the standards of distance education and the importance of AICTE approval. Let’s delve into the details of this landmark case.


  • Petitioners are diploma holders in Civil/ Computer Science/ Electrical/ Mechanical Engineering working in the Government of Punjab.
  • Selected for the B.Tech. degree course through distance mode programme by TIET, Patiala, a deemed university under the UGC Act.
  • TIET, Patiala is a premier engineering institution with a 250-acre campus, 391 teaching faculty, and various undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
  • TIET, Patiala has been accredited Grade ‘A’ status by NAAC and Tier-I accreditation by HRD Ministry.
  • Granted provisional recognition by DEC for offering distance education programmes for B.Tech. in specified engineering fields.
  • 92 petitioners seek clarification from UGC that their B.Tech. degrees from TIET, Patiala through distance learning are valid and recognized.
  • UGC refuses to recognize degrees due to lack of approval from UGC and AICTE for the B.Tech. courses conducted in distance learning mode.
  • Out of 1168 students admitted, only 822 were awarded the B.Tech. degree.
  • The Court granted a one-time relaxation to candidates who enrolled during 2001-2005.
  • Candidates from those academic years are eligible to appear for the AICTE test.
  • This decision was based on the judgment in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation Limited I.
  • The case reference is from the order dated 10 April, 2018 in Civil Appeal Nos. 3697-3698 of 2018.
  • The case involved Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University vs. The Chairman and Managing Director, Transmission Corporation of Telangana Limited.

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  • The petitioners misconstrued the judgment of the court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation Limited-I.
  • The UGC Act is responsible for fixing and ensuring standards in teaching, examination, and research in higher education.
  • The petitioners believed they were admitted to a prestigious deemed university with all necessary approvals in place.
  • Citing the Bharathidasan University case, the petitioners argued that a deemed university does not need prior approval from AICTE to start a department for technical education.
  • The reference to paragraph 49 of the Orissa Lift judgment was made, but it was clarified that the controversy was settled conclusively in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation Limited-I.

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  • The AICTE issued a notification on 28 November, 2005, stating that no technical institution could start new courses without its approval.
  • The requirement of approval was mandatory for new courses or increasing intake in technical institutions.
  • Deemed universities were found to have violated regulations by offering engineering degrees through distance learning mode without AICTE approval.
  • Policy decisions and notifications emphasized the need for approvals from regulatory bodies like AICTE and UGC for distance education courses.
  • The study centers for distance education programs needed specific approval from authorities like the DEC and UGC.
  • The issuance of ex post facto approvals without necessary inspections raised jurisdictional concerns and led to legal invalidity of degrees awarded.
  • The DECs switch to program recognition was considered a violation due to lack of consultation with AICTE.
  • Provisional recognition letters often mentioned the need for other regulatory approvals, but many technical programs were granted recognition without such approvals.
  • The distinction between technical education and technical institutions was emphasized, with AICTE’s exclusive authority over technical education standards.
  • The UGC Act’s provisions were binding on all universities, including deemed universities, for maintaining education standards.
  • The joint expert committee evaluation of TIET, Patiala revealed deficiencies in fulfilling AICTE approval requirements.
  • The judgment clarified that approval from AICTE was essential for offering certain courses in distance education mode.
  • Policy decisions made it clear that DECs approval alone was insufficient for offering courses through distance education mode.
  • UGC Act was enacted by Parliament for coordination and determination of standards in higher education.
  • UGS has the power to prevent disparities and ensure coordination.
  • UGS framed rules and regulations to enforce standards.
  • Relaxation cannot be granted regarding mandatory provisions for degree conferment.
  • Distance education programs aim to alleviate traditional system rigidity.
  • Parliament enacted UGC Act under Entry 66 of List I of the Seventh Schedule.
  • Open University Act was enacted under Entry 25 of List III.
  • UGS Act includes actions to prevent disparities and not just remove existing ones.
  • AICTE is the sole authority to set norms for technical education.
  • UGC Act prevails over Open University Act in cases of conflict.

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Case Number: W.P.(C) No.-001510 / 2018

Click here to read/download original judgement

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