WP(C) Nos. 39134 of 2016 (N) and 39826 of 2016. Case: Anandu R. Pillai and Ors. Vs The Chairman, Admission Supervisory Committee for Professional Colleges in Kerala and Ors.. High Court of Kerala (India)

Case NumberWP(C) Nos. 39134 of 2016 (N) and 39826 of 2016
CounselFor Appellant: P. Ravindran, Sr. Adv. and Sreedhar Ravindran, Adv. and For Respondents: Mary Benjamin, SC, Elvin Peter P.J. and K.R. Ganesh, Advs.
JudgesP.R. Ramachandra Menon and P. Somarajan, JJ.
IssueAll Indian Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 - Section 23
Judgement DateJanuary 12, 2017
CourtHigh Court of Kerala (India)


P.R. Ramachandra Menon, J.

1. Rejection of approval of admission of 'NRI' students in the Engineering Course/s made by the Educational Institution, directing the Technological University, to remove the names of the students concerned, from the list of 'registered' students, as ordered by the Admission Supervisory Committee [ASC for short] constituted under Act 19 of 2006, is the subject matter of challenge in both these writ petitions. WP(C) No. 39134 of 2016 has been filed by the students of the 2nd respondent Institution, whereas WP(C) No. 39826 of 2016 has been filed by an Educational Institution, raising a similar challenge.

2. Heard Sri. P. Ravindran, the learned Senior Counsel, appearing for the petitioners/students in WP(C) No. 39134 of 2016, Sri. C.R. Sivakumar, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner/Institution in WP(C) No. 39826 of 2016, Sri. S. Krishnamoorthi, the learned Standing Counsel, appearing for the AICTE as well as for the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University in both the cases, Smt. Mary Benjamin, the learned Standing Counsel, appearing for the ASC and the learned Senior Government Pleader, who appeared for the State/Department.

3. Pleadings and proceedings are referred to as given in WP(C) No. 39134 of 2016, except where it is separately referred to, dealing with the other case.

4. The petitioner students were aspirants to have admissions for the first year B.Tech Engineering course in the 2nd respondent College under the 'NRI' Quota. By virtue of paragraph 17 of Ext. P5 G.O. dated 30.06.2016, a separate Quota is prescribed for 'NRI' students, to an extent of 15%, who need not have to clear the common Entrance Examination, but for satisfying the minimum of 45% marks at the 'Plus Two level', who could be given admission directly by the Self Financing Institution. Ext. P1 series School Certificates reveal that the petitioners/students are having 45% or above marks in the 'Plus Two level'. Accordingly, they applied for admission in the 2ndrespondent College, obtained the same and are pursuing studies there.

5. It is stated that the 2nd respondent College was started in the year 2011, at which point of time, it was under the Mahatma Gandhi University. Subsequently, the 4th respondent University was formed in the year 2015, upon which, the Educational Institution came to be affiliated to the said University. Ext. P2 dated 14.05.2016 is a copy of the extension of affiliation given by the 4th respondent University. Similarly, approval given by the AICTE was extended in respect of the year 2016-2017, as per Ext. P3 dated 29.04.2016.

6. It is borne out by the pleadings and proceedings; that an agreement was executed between the Government on one side and the Association of the Self-financing Management Institutions [also representing the 2nd respondent in WP(C) No. 39134 of 2016 and the petitioner in WP(C) No. 39826 of 2016] on the other side, whereby it was open for the Educational Institution to have admitted 'NRI' students to an extent of 15% for the year 2016-2017. It is however seen that, no copy of the Prospectus or other agreement, if any, executed between the Educational Institution and the Government was made available before the ASC for their approval, in terms of the relevant Government Order issued in this regard. The 2nd respondent Institution, on being alerted by the ASC as per letter dated 22.08.2016, forwarded Ext. P8 list of admitted students, including the Management Quota and the NRI segment to the ASC, along with Ext. P7 covering letter dated 30.08.2016.

7. As already pointed out, the petitioners, on securing admissions as 'NRI' students in the 2nd respondent Institution, while pursuing their studies, have been issued Ext. P9 series Hall Tickets in connection with the Semester Examinations scheduled to be conducted on 13.12.2016, which however is stated as adjourned, for the time being. All of a sudden, the 2nd respondent College received an email from the ASC on 28.11.2016 to the effect that the approval in respect of 'NRI' students would stand withheld. As per the very same proceeding, the Principal of the Institution was required to appear on 30.11.2016 at 10 am, simultaneously instructing him to inform the position to the candidates as well, so that they could also be present before the ASC. The Principal of the 2nd respondent Institution submitted a reply dated 29.11.2016, explaining the circumstances and conceding that 'AICTE approval' was not obtained in respect of the 'NRI' students, as the AICTE web portal was disabled. This was followed by Ext. P12 communication dated 02.12.2016 issued by the Chairman of the 2nd respondent Institution, addressed to the ASC. Allegedly without any regard to the facts and circumstances, the ASC issued Ext. P13 order dated 01.12.2016, whereby the petitioners/NRI students were ordered to be expelled, while approving the admission of others. Consequential directions were issued to the University as well, to remove the names of the NRI students from the list of eligible candidates. The reason for expulsion of the petitioners was that, the 2nd respondent Institution had not obtained approval of the AICTE, for admission in the 'NRI' Quota.

8. The version of the petitioners is that, the 2nd respondent Educational Institution had virtually submitted Ext. P4 request dated 17.05.2016 before the AICTE, pointing out that, while submitting the application for extension of approval, the relevant column in respect of the 'NRI' segment was filled up as 'NA' by way of 'mistake' and that the College had proposed to take 'NRI' students as and when allotted. It was thereafter, that Ext. P5 G.O. [MS] No. 155/2016/H.Edn. dated 30.06.2016 was issued by the Government, governing the admission and fee structure for allotment of seats in Professional Degree courses, for the academic year 2016-2017. As per paragraph 17 of Ext. P5 Government Order, it was stipulated that the Educational agency shall be entitled to fill up 15% seats in the 'NRI' category by admitting qualified students, who were dependants of 'Non-Resident Indians', as per Section 2(o) of Act 19 of 2006 [wrongly typed as Section 2(c)] and that, all these students are exempted from qualifying in any Entrance Test and can be admitted, if they satisfy the prescribed conditions of academic eligibility.

9. According to the petitioners, there was no response from the part of the AICTE, despite sending Ext. P4 request dated 17.05.2016. This made the College to send another communication by way of Ext. P6 dated 11.07.2016, making a reference to the earlier one [Ext. P4 dated 17.05.2016], for permitting to have 'NRI' admission. It was thereafter, that Ext. P8 list of candidates was finalized and forwarded to the ASC, along with Ext. P7.

10. According to the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioners, the only reason for rejecting the approval of 'NRI' students as per Ext. P13, is that, the 2nd respondent Educational Institution was not having the 'AICTE approval', which, as such, is not correct. It is further pointed out that, the matters for which approval of the AICTE is required are given under Regulation No. 4, relevant portion of which is extracted below:

4. Requirement of grant of approval-(1) After the commencement of these regulations,-

(a) no new technical institution or University Technical Department, shall be started; or

(b) no course or programme shall be introduced by any technical institutions, University including a deemed University or University Department or College; or

(c) no technical institutions, Universities or deemed Universities or University Departments or Colleges shall continue in admit students for Degree or Diploma courses or programmes;

(d) no approved intake capacity of seats shall be increased or varied; except with the approval of the Council.

(2) Applications for grant of approval under sub-regulation (1) shall be made by any of the following, namely:-

(i) Government institutions, Government aided institutions, deemed Universities and University Departments or Colleges;

(ii) registered societies/trusts.

11. The AICTE has issued Approval Process Handbook, Chapter II of which deals with applications for introducing/continuing/discontinuing seats for sons/daughters of NRIs. According to the petitioners, the said Handbook does not say anything with regard to the 'Quota' and that the 'NRI' Quota arises only by virtue of the agreement already executed with the Government. As per the Handbook issued by the AICTE for 2016-2017, various forms are given, which provides for a single application for meeting various requirements. Prescription in the said Handbook is stated as not having any statutory flavour. Clause/Paragraph 2.2 in Chapter II of the Handbook stipulates that approval of the AICTE is to be obtained, for introducing/continuing/discontinuing seats for sons/daughters of 'NRIs'. Paragraph 3.3 stipulates that, a processing fee of Rs. 2 lakhs is to be paid in respect of applications for introduction or continuance of 'NRI' seats. Paragraph 13 of the said Handbook deals with the 'Supernumerary Quota' for Foreign Nationals/'Persons of Indian Origin [PIO]'/Children of Indian workers in Gulf Countries. Paragraph 14 deals with the admissions of sons/daughters of 'Non-Resident Indians'.

12. According to the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioners, the Approval Process Handbook issued by the AICTE is a Self Contained Code and if at all there is any non-compliance with the provisions therein, consequences are also separately stipulated under Chapter IV, a true copy of which has been produced as Ext. P14. Paragraph 1 alone is stated as applicable in the instant case, which hence is extracted below:

Clause 1

1.1 An Institution running any Program/Course in Technical Education in violation of Regulations/Approval Process Handbook (APH) 2016-17, shall be liable to appropriate initiation of Penal/Civil action...

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