HC asks State to fix engg fees in 4 weeks

HC asks State to fix engg fees in 4 weeks

Court pulls up govt for abdicating its responsibility

HC asks State to fix engg fees in 4 weeks

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to fix the fee structure for engineering courses in private unaided colleges for the academic year 2014-15 within four weeks.

Disposing of a batch of petitions by several private unaided colleges, a division bench, which includes Justices K L Manjunath and Ravi Malimath, directed the government to consider proposals of the colleges in accordance with Sections 6 and 7 of the Karnataka Professional Educational Institute (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fees) Act, 2006, which mandates to constitute a fresh fee-fixation committee to regulate the fee structure. The government has kept the Act in abeyance for now.

The petitioners contended that as per the AICTE norms, institutes will incur losses of crores of rupees if they agree to the government's consensual agreement as it makes it difficult for them to run the institutes. They contended that the government should fix the fees when the Act is kept in abeyance. The government submitted that it would convince the colleges to agree to consensual agreement and appealed to dismiss the petition.

But the bench allowed the petition, and observed: “With no regulation of fees, parents will be burdened financially. It is a failure on the part of the government. We have to direct the State to consider the petitioners' proposals and determine the fees in accordance with the Act within four weeks.”

Reminding the circumstances under which the State government formulated the Act, the bench observed: “Pursuant to apex court directions, the State came out with the 2006 Act. Though it was notified in April 2006, it is yet to be implemented. To keep it in abeyance, an enactment has been brought. It is the duty of the State to follow the provisions of the Act. Sections 6 and 7 of the Act are mandatory for the government to follow.”

Pointing out that the State government is duty-bound to fix the fees in the absence of a committee, the bench observed: “The chairman of the fee-fixation committee, Justice Ajit J Gunjal, remitted the office after the government kept the Act in abeyance. In the absence of the committee, the petitioners cannot fix the fees of their choice. It is the duty of the government to do so. The admissions have to be completed by the end of July 2014 as per apex court orders and AICTE norms.”

It added: “The colleges have to notify the fees in advance for the benefit of students, as per the Act. If not, the students will find it difficult to choose colleges. The petitioners cannot be made to suffer for the lapses committed by the government.”

In view of the deadline of July 2014 for admissions, the bench allowed the petition and directed the colleges to submit their fee proposals.