The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition moved against the University of Madras to prevent it from continuing with a Master of Law (ML) programme offered in "private study mode". (B Ramkumar Adityan v. Principal Secretary, Higher Education Department and ors).A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu issued notice returnable by four weeks in the plea moved by an advocate, B Ramkumar Adityan. .As per Adityan's petition, the University of Madras has been offering ML programmes in "private study mode" in seven branches of law i.e. International Law and Constitutional Law, Business Law, Criminal Law, Property Law, Intellectual Property Law, Human Rights and Environmental Law and Labour and Administrative Law..While so, it was submitted that the University's Department of Legal Studies only has two permanent faculty members, Dr. B Venugopal, Professor and Head, who has specialised in International Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights and Dr. D Rajasekar (Assistant Professor) who has specialised in Public Law, Constitutional Law, Media Law and International Humanitarian Law..The petitioner alleged that the ML (private study) programmes are being offered by the University of Madras without due recognition from the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Bar Council of India (BCI), the Distance Education Bureau and the Teachers Recruitment Board..The petitioner also alleged that these courses are being offered in violation of several notifications and circulars issues by the two regulatory bodies with respect to distance learning, qualification of teachers and open learning. It is ultra vires, the University Grants Commission (Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes) Regulations, 2020, the petitioner contended..He also raised concerns that in 2020-21, the University had admitted 246 candidates to the ML (private study) programme. Being one of the oldest universities in India, the University of Madras has a high reputation and no student is likely to doubt the credibility and recognition of the courses offered by it, it was pointed out..Without due recognition, the students admitted to the ML programmes in question may face problems when it comes to employment, visa etc, the petition said. .Adityan, therefore, urged the High Court to bar the University of Madras from conducting the ML (private study) courses and to refund the fees collected from students for these courses at least for the year 2021-22 onwards. .It was stated that the petitioner had addressed a representation on the issue to the University of Madras, which did not yield any response. If the University of Madras and its Legal Studies Department are allowed to continue admitting students, it would spoil the careers of thousands of students, it was argued. .On another petition moved by Adityan, the High Court had recently ruled against the conduct of certain LLB courses offered by the Annamalai University in distance education mode and without BCI approval. .The petition has been filed through advocate G Sureshkumar.