‘The ultimate sufferers will be the students and their parents on account of the lapse of the government’

Saying that the State government has “failed” to notify the engineering course fee structure as per the law, the High Court of Karnataka on Monday set four weeks deadline for taking steps for fixation of fee with respect to 13 engineering colleges, as per the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fee) Act, 2006.

A Division Bench comprising Justice K.L. Manjunath and Justice Ravi Malimath issued the direction while disposing of a petition filed by APS College of Engineering and 12 other colleges seeking a direction to the State and the Fee Regulatory Committee to determine the fee for the academic year 2014-15, while taking into consideration the fee structure proposed by these colleges as per the Act.

On the government’s claim that the Act has been kept in “abeyance” for allowing the government and the private colleges to arrive at a consensual fee arrangement as in the past, the court said that an Act cannot be kept in abeyance without following the procedure through a mere “decision” of the government.

Making it clear that the government is bound to follow the provisions of the Act, which was enacted as per the Supreme Court’s direction, the court expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s move to keep the Act in abeyance for the past eight years.

“There is a failure on the part of the respondent [government]. The ultimate sufferers would be the students and their parents on account of the lapse of the government,” the Bench observed.

It was pointed out to the Bench that the two retired judges of the High Court, who were appointed to the Fee Regulatory Committee by the State, had demitted office after the government announced that the fee would be determined through consensual arrangement and not through the committee.

Reacting to this, the Bench said that the government was pushing the students and their parents into a difficult situation as they would not be aware of the fee to be payable well in advance.

“It will be difficult for them to choose a college of their choice and to pay a higher fee if the students and their parents are not informed in advance about fee structure,” the Bench observed.

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