School of Architecture and Planning in the dock

The Madras High Court has ordered an enquiry by the Higher Education Secretary into the excess admissions effected by the School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University-Chennai, since 2007-08, allegedly after obtaining Rs.15 lakh to 22 lakh illegally from every student.

Justice V. Ramasubramanian directed the Secretary to investigate the circumstances under which the admissions were made as well as the allegations that certain university officials took huge sums by selling the seats. The enquiry report must be placed before the court within three months.

The alleged irregularities came to light during the hearing of a writ petition filed by the university challenging an order passed by the Council of Architecture (CoA). In its order passed on June 4, the CoA had reduced the approved intake in the Architecture Department from 80 students to 40 after taking note of the excess admissions in previous years, the lack of infrastructure as well as shortage of faculty.

In a counter affidavit filed in response to the writ petition, O. Vinod Kumar, Registrar, CoA, stated that the university admitted 46 students in 2007-08 as against the permitted 40. In 2008-09 it admitted 53. In 2010-11, the permitted intake was increased to 80. The university admitted 94 students that year, and 83 the next year. “What is disturbing is the fact that there were serious charges of additional seats being filled without following norms and amid allegations of taking money.”

Wanting to find out the veracity of the allegations, the judge said: “Though the petitioner had taken a stand that the additional seats had to be filled owing to orders of court, in view of the pendency of the challenge to the reservation up to 69 per cent in the State of Tamil Nadu, I do not think the same could account for all the excess admissions.”

Nevertheless, by way of an interim order, the judge permitted the university to admit 80 students during academic year 2012-13. .

In its counter affidavit, the CoA had claimed that the School of Architecture and Planning was short of a Professor, three Associate Professors and five Assistant Professors.

Insofar as the complaints of lack of infrastructure and shortage of faculty were concerned, the judge directed the varsity to complete the proposed construction of an additional buildingspread over 3,134 sq.m., apart from the existing building with a plinth area of 3,809 sq.m., before the end of the academic year. He also ordered the filling of all faculty vacancies within two months.

Stating that it was satisfied about the fact of the excess seats having been filled in the previous years without following the Single Window System or merit list, the CoA said: “Even today, the same set of people are at the helm of affairs who were there during the time of the illegal admissions, namely, the Registrar, the then Chairman, Faculty of Architecture (who is now the Dean) and the then Dean who is now the Chairman and Head of Department of Architecture.