The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Distance degree in clear
- Court endorses correspondence course for school jobs

Calcutta, Jan. 7: The high court today ordered the School Service Commission to accept correspondence course degrees awarded by universities recognised by the UGC.

Justice Indira Banerjee directed the SSC to make fresh arrangements for the interview of a candidate for the post of headmaster in a Murshidabad school, who was denied permission for having obtained his degree following a distance learning course.

Joydeep Kumar Das, who had moved court against the commission's decision, had secured his MA degree from a Bihar varsity. Das, who had done his post-graduation in English, had applied for the post at Secendra High School in Raghunathgunj, about 260 km from Calcutta.

Legal experts said today's judgment is significant as it is common practice for the SSC to reject degrees awarded after correspondence courses.

Das had alleged that as he obtained his MA in English from B.N. Mondal University in Bihar and not after a full-time course, the SSC did not consider him as a candidate for the post and he was not called for the interview.

His counsel, Partha Sarathi Deb Burman, told the court that B.N. Mondal University is recognised by the UGC.

'The SSC has no authority to restrain my client from appearing in the interview only because he had completed the course through correspondence,' he said.

The lawyer for the SSC argued that it was the discretion of the commission to accept or reject degrees obtained through correspondence while considering a candidate for interview or appointment.

However, Justice Banerjee said the commission would have to accept degrees obtained from recognised universities, even if they were through correspondence.

Officials in the commission said degrees following correspondence courses offered by UGC-affiliated varsities were not considered as valid because of a restriction imposed by the state government. According to the existing system, the SSC only accepts degrees from a prescribed list of institutions offering distance education for post-graduate courses.

Only degrees awarded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Open University, Vidyasagar University and the varsities at Kalyani, Burdwan and north Bengal are accepted by the SSC. Among varsities headquartered outside Bengal, only Indira Gandhi National Open University makes the cut.

A commission official said: 'We understand that this kind of restriction on correspondence courses can create problems because they are extremely popular these days.'

He added that the SSC will have to wait for a government waiver of the restriction after today's order.

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