Finally, the new Maharashtra Public Universities Act will be brought to light. The final draft of the bill will be tabled in the next winter session of the state legislature in December. A 21-member legislative committee was assigned the task to scrutinise the draft bill. It was headed by Education Minister Vinod Tawde. Recently the minister said that the bill was ready to be tabled in the legislature.
The education minister said that the committee will table its report along with the new draft. The committee has incorporated certain changes in the report. The committee comprises of representatives of major political parties. It was set up to scrutinise the draft of the Bill. After two decades the bill will be revised for the first time. The proposed bill will govern all non-agricultural universities in the state.
Sanjay Deshmukh, Vice-Chancellor of Mumbai University said that the new draft may not be valid in the next five years. He had not seen the draft approved by the committee. The other stakeholders feel that the new Act will bring back the democratic functioning of universities.
President of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, Tapati Mukhopadhyay said that the new Act should ensure representation of principals, teachers, management and graduates proportionate to their numbers. Election of the student union may also see a comeback with the new Act. If the act is passed, it will set in motion administrative and management bodies of several universities of the state that has been so far considered redundant for over a year.
Last year in August, the state government had asked universities to halt elections to its statutory bodies after their term ended. In the University of Mumbai, several bodies like the senate, the grievance committee and management council have not been able to function.
Subhash Athawale, president of Mumbai University and College Teachers Association said the grievance committee is an important body to address students’ problems. A lot of cases have not been heard and other decisions taken by the committee earlier have not been implemented.
If the Act is passed several bodies like the University Development, Board of College, the Board of Examination can function better. It will also give the University some power over affiliated colleges. In the absence of an Act, there was less control over newly affiliated colleges.