Taking exception to leaders of the Opposition Janata Dal (S) and the Bharatiya Janata Party criticising the government for trying to implement the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday ridiculed that “those who enacted the legislation themselves are now opposing it.”
At a press conference here where he announced the decision to keep the Act in abeyance for 2014–15, the Chief Minister pointed out that the legislation was enacted when the JD(S)–BJP coalition government was in power in 2006. “It was brought about when JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy was the Chief Minister and B.S. Yeddyurappa was his deputy. D.H. Shankaramurthy (who is presently Chairman of the Legislative Council) was Higher Education Minister then,” he said.
“We kept the Act in abeyance for the present academic year owing to paucity of time as we had just formed the government. At that time itself, we had declared in the legislature session that the Act would be implemented from 2014–15. Nobody opposed our decision that time. But suddenly everybody is opposing it now,” he said.
Maintaining that his government had earlier decided to implement the Act with the intention of protecting the interests of students, Mr. Siddaramaiah expressed concern that several people, including leaders of political parties and students’ organisations, were expressing apprehensions that the move may trigger a massive fee hike. “Such is the level of apprehension that some of the students’ organisations have already taken the path of agitation. Such opposition and apprehensions are mainly because of lack of proper information about the Act,” he said.
Pointing out that the fee determination committee headed by a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court — which was set up in accordance with the provisions of the Act to determine the fee structure — was yet to submit its report, he wondered how could one come to the conclusion that the fee would increase sharply.
He also denied reports that the number of merit seats was set to decrease, and claimed that the seats would actually increase.
“While the Act will be kept in abeyance for 2014–15, it will be implemented in future only after detailed discussions. If need be, we will also amend the Act,” he said while declaring that the government was committed to protecting the interests of students by ensuring that the fee was affordable. He said he would also talk to the Union government in this regard if need be.