Tamil Nadu

HC asks AICTE, Anna University to work in tandem with each other


Court was hearing an appeal by college relating to drastic reduction in intake

The Madras High Court has impressed upon the necessity for the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) as well as Anna University in Chennai to work in tandem with each other on issues such as keeping a check over infrastructural facilities in private engineering colleges, approving courses and fixing student intake.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad made the observation while holding that the university had no legal authority to reduce the student intake fixed by AICTE without taking deficiencies, if any, in a college to the notice of the council with a request to act fast against the college concerned in the interest of the students.

“The AICTE, upon receiving such information (from the university), shall be bound to consider and pass appropriate orders and not shelve the issue by avoiding to take action as it would directly affect the affiliation granted by the university, the running of the courses and also importantly, the fate of the students,” the first Division Bench said.

The judgment was passed on a writ appeal preferred by Infant Jesus College of Engineering in Thoothukudi. The college was aggrieved over the university having substantially reduced the intake of students fixed by the AICTE for aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering and Master of Business Administration courses offered by the institution.

Affiliating authority

Defending its action before the court, the university claimed that it had all the authority to reduce the intake, due to deficiencies identified during personal inspections, since it was the affiliating authority. In the same breath, the university conceded that any increase in intake could be approved only by the AICTE and not by the university.

Not in agreement with such a stand taken by the university, the judges called upon Central Government Standing counsel R. Rabu Manohar to ascertain the stand of AICTE on the issue. He, on instructions, told the court that no other authority but for the AICTE was empowered to increase or decrease the intake of students in an engineering college.

After recording his submission, the Bench said: “The power to do, on general principles, also includes the power to undo... The power to increase the intake also includes the power to decrease the intake. We, therefore, find it difficult to read a parallel exercise of power in the hands of the university in the matter of reduction alone.”

Authoring the verdict, the Chief Justice pointed out that the Supreme Court in Parshvanath Charitable Trust’s case, decided in December 2012, observed that the opinion of the AICTE, being an authority constituted under a Central Act, should take precedence over the opinion of the State governments or the universities concerned.

Role of AICTE

In the same judgment, the apex court stated that the AICTE’s role was only advisory and recommendatory and that it was not a superior authority that could supervise or control the universities. Therefore, it was essential that both the authorities act in “coalition and coordination” to ensure timely action against colleges, the High Court stressed.

Though the AICTE Act of 1987 empowers only the council to fix permitted intake of students in courses offered by engineering colleges, “it goes without saying that the university has the authority either to affiliate or disaffiliate or suspend the affiliation, as per the statutes, in the event of an eventuality,” the Bench concluded.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:37:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-asks-aicte-anna-university-to-work-in-tandem-with-each-other/article30481830.ece

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