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SC okays government order on IIMs' fee cut
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
The Supreme Court today brought down the curtain on Centre’s controversial decision reducing the fee in six business schools of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM), holding that the Government had clarified that the move was not aimed at interfering in the autonomy of these institutes.

“The Union Government has stated that the reduction of fee would not amount to interference in the autonomy of these institutes of excellence. The matter is disposed of in view of the said statement,” a three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Mr Justice S.B. Sinha and Mr Justice S.H. Kapadia said.

With this, the court disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL), challenging the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry’s decision to reduce the annual fee in the six IIMs from Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 30,000 after recording the statement of Additional Solicitor General Mukul Rohtagi that the Centre would compensate the IIMs financially and there would be no government interference in their administrative matters.

The three petitioners - an advocate, a student of the IIM, Ahmedabad and a postgraduate of the IIM, Bangalore - who were directed by the court to submit balance sheets of the six business schools of the past 10 years, failed to do so and took a stand that in view of the Centre’s clarification they did not want to press the PIL any further.

They had challenged the decision on the ground that it was motivated with a design to encroach upon the IIMs’ autonomy and with an eye on vote bank in the coming elections. But the government had refuted the allegations.

The petitioner’s counsel Harish Salve at the very outset of the hearing said since the government had made it clear that it would compensate the deficit caused to the IIMs by its decision to reduce the fee and there was no reason for any apprehension about interference in their administrative there was no necessity to continue with the case.

He said the main objective of the petitioners was to protect the autonomy of the IIMs.

The court on previous hearing had made it clear that admissions to such prestigious institutions should not be “restricted to elite but accessible to the common man.”

It had also taken exception to the IIMs creating a corpus of nearly Rs 100 crore out of the fee collection, saying charging of any “capital expenditure was not justified”.

The government had stated that out of Rs 4 lakh expenses incurred annually on each student in the six IIMs, it was already providing a subsidy of Rs 2.50 lakh and was ready to meet the deficit caused due to fee reduction.

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