HC notice to State, AICTE on plea challenging COMED-K counselling and fee refund policy

Petitioner says he was compelled to approach court on behalf of ‘helpless’ students

September 12, 2022 08:38 pm | Updated September 13, 2022 01:10 pm IST - Bengaluru

The petitioner clarified that he was compelled to approach the court on behalf of the ‘helpless’ students and their parents, who were unable to raise their voice or fight the legal battle against the mighty managements of the private institutions. 

The petitioner clarified that he was compelled to approach the court on behalf of the ‘helpless’ students and their parents, who were unable to raise their voice or fight the legal battle against the mighty managements of the private institutions.  | Photo Credit: SREENIVASA MURTHY V

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday ordered issue of notice to the State government, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and other authorities on a PIL petition, which questioned the legality of the counselling and fee refund policy of the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMED-K) for admitting students to engineering courses under the management quota seat.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty passed the order on the petition filed by N.P. Amrutesh, a city-based advocate.

The petitioner clarified that he was compelled to approach the court on behalf of the ‘helpless’ students and their parents, who were unable to raise their voice or fight the legal battle against the mighty managements of the private institutions.

It was contended in the petition that COMED-K’s counselling policy deprives students from participating in more than one round of counselling to choose a seat based on their ranking. Once a student surrenders an allotted seat, even in the first round, the student cannot participate in the next round of counselling despite having higher rank, the petition stated while terming the policy as ‘arbitrary and illegal’.

The petitioner pointed out that the refund of fee policy states: “if a candidate whose name is in the final list, fails to join/report and continue the study in the allotted college, he/she will forfeit the entire tuition fee including other fees paid at COMED-K level since the candidate has deprived an opportunity of getting allotted a seat to next best/merited candidate thereby blocking a seat and the candidate is also liable to pay a penalty of five times of the fee.”

The policy of refund, the petitioner contended, was contrary to the guidelines issued by the AICTE and the University Grants Commission (UGC) as the institutes are prohibited from the forfeiture of entire fee paid at the time of admission besides prohibiting retention of original marks cards of the qualifying exams of the candidates. Demanding five times the fee is illegal as AICTE and UGC permits collection of only processing fee, the petitioner contended.

It was also alleged in the petition that COMED-K policy allows less meritorious students to get seats in good college as the more meritorious students are not allowed to participate in further rounds of counselling even if seats in good colleges become vacant after initial rounds of counselling.

The petitioner sought directions to allow eligible students to participate in multiple rounds of counselling and restrain COMED-K from implementing its refund policy and collection of hefty fine.

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