Tuesday, May 31, 2011

University Act gives Edu. Minister power to decide – Snr. State Counsel

The Island, 30/05/2011, By Chitra Weerarathne

Senior State Counsel Nerin Pulle, yesterday told the Supreme Court that, the University Act, in Section 19, empowers the Minister of Higher Education to give directions in respect of the University Education.

He was appearing for the Attorney General, who was made a respondent, in a petition filed by a student, who had objected to the mandatory requirement stated recently by the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, directing the new entrants to the universities, to subject themselves to a training course titled ‘positive thinking and leadership qualities, being held in military camps. SSC Pulle said that the programme intends to safeguard the students against ‘ragging’ and other kinds of uncalled for hardships.

Section 20 of the Universities Act, gives the Minister the power to safeguard the interests of the students, he said. More that 9,000 students had consented to take part in the training he said.

M. A. Sumanthiran, who supported a petition, said that the training programme should not be made an additional requirement for selection to the universities. He said the compulsion is a violation of the freedom to think, and it is de grading. The Court on June 2, 2011 will continue to hear a few other petitions on the same issue.

The bench comprised the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice N. G. Amaratunga and Justice K. Sripavan.

The petition filed by students’ for Human Rights, against their programme was withdrawn by the petitioner yesterday. Several parties had filed interventions to the petition supporting the programme organized by the government.