The Madras High Court has stayed till June 11 the refund of fees collected by nine self-financing private engineering colleges in Puducherry. The colleges had collected fees above the amount fixed by a committee headed by Justice J.A.K.Sampath Kumar.

Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar, who granted the interim stay, also gave time to the Puducherry government to file its response.

The colleges submitted that the government had arbitrarily fixed the fee for the academic year 2009-10 as Rs.26,000 and said that the institutions were not entitled to collect any other fee, except what was fixed by the Committee. It had also said that the Rs.26,000 would include examination fee, matriculation fee, sports fee and university development fund.

The petitioner colleges submitted that apart from the Rs.26,000 collected from B.Tech students admitted under Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC), they charged Rs.3,000 as special fees which includes internal and model examination fee, Rs.1,500 as library fee, Rs.1,500 as lab and internet fee and Rs.500 as cultural fee, which added to Rs.32,000 for each student.

They said that the order passed by the State government in fixing the fee at Rs.26,000 was illegal and was liable to be quashed. The committee had not applied its mind while fixing the fee at Rs.26,000 per student. The government had failed to see that the fee it had fixed was much lower than the fee structure of government colleges in the Union Territory.

They sought that the Madras High Court direct the government to fix a reasonable fee for B.Tech course on a par with Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the academic year 2010-11.