The government on Tuesday defended its decision to grant the Reliance Foundation’s Jio Institute the status of an “Institute of Eminence”, saying that the tag was only conditional, PTI reported. The university, for which land has been acquired in Maharashtra’s Karjat, has not yet been set up.

“Right now they will not get the Institute of Eminence tag, they will just get a letter of intent,” Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam said, according to PTI. “If they are able to establish themselves in three years and meet the expectations of the expert committee, then they will get the status. The expert panel will have the authority to withdraw the tag if the institution is not found to be performing up to the mark.”

The Ministry of Human Resource Development said the decision to grant Jio Institute the status of an Institute of Eminence was taken by an expert panel, whose judgement should be trusted, The Hindu reported.

Subrahmanyam said that institutions could apply under three categories – public institutions, already existing private institutions, and the greenfield category. The last category referred to “private institutions that were found very promising at proposal stage”, he said. Out of 11 applications in the greenfield category, only Jio Institute was found suitable, the secretary added.

“The committee in their wisdom and after exercising due diligence, after speaking to them, after reading their proposals, after looking at their vision statements and their ability to mobilise land, building and core team found only one institution to be eligible,” Subrahmanyam said. “This committee consists of very reputed persons, people with impeccable integrity, with a lot of public service. They are all eminent personalities. That being so, we are convinced that they have done a very thorough job.”

The decision to add Jio Institute to the list of eminent universities had led to criticism, including by historian Ramchandra Guha, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Ayesha Kidwai, who suggested that a spell check was needed – implying that Jio was an “Institute of Imminence”, not an “Institute of Eminence”.