M A I N   N E W S

States can’t enforce quota in private colleges: SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 12
Clearing the ambiguity about admissions in unaided private and minority professional institutions for medical, engineering, management and other courses across the country, the Supreme Court today ruled that the government had no right to foist a quota of its own students in such institutions.

“Neither the policy of reservation can be enforced by the states nor any quota or percentage of admissions can be carved out to be appropriated by it in a minority or non-minority unaided educational institutions,” the court said.

Allowing such institutions to devise their own fee structure under the regulatory control of the court-appointed committees in each state, a seven-Judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, however, said to ensure transparency in admissions, the state governments “can provide a procedure for holding a common entrance test (CET) in the interest of securing fair and merit-based admissions and prevent mal-administration.”

Asking all such institutions to follow the principle of triple tests — fairness, transparency and non-exploitation of students — in giving admissions, as laid down by a 11-judge Constitution Bench in the TMA Pai case, the court said the private and minority institutions could adopt the procedure for holding CET by forming a group among themselves.

If such a CET failed to satisfy all or any of the triple tests, the state could take over holding of the test by “substituting its own procedure,” said the Bench, having Mr Justices Y.K. Sabharwal, D.M. Dharmadhikari, Arun Kumar, G.P. Mathur, Tarun Chatterjee and P.K. Balasubramanyan as other six judges.

If the state took upon itself the responsibility of holding the CET, it has to be done through an agency, which enjoyed “utmost credibility and expertise” in holding such exams to achieve twin objectives of transparency and merit.

It further clarified that the minority institutions were free to admit students of their own choice, including those from their own community or non-minorities from other states, to a limited extent in a manner that their minority status was not lost in the process. “If they do so, they would lose the protection of Article 30(1) of the Constitution” under which minorities were permitted to set up their own institutions, it ruled.

Stating that the new admission procedure, which would come into force only from the next academic session (2006-07), the court allowed all private and minority institutions to have 15 per cent quota for NRI students as payment seats but strictly on merit. It said that the amount collected this way by the institutions should has to be utilised for the benefit from economically weaker section.

Though the court permitted every private and minority institution to devise its own “fee structure”, it put a complete ban on capitation fee, saying that education could not be allowed to be made a source of “profiteering”.

Permitting the regulatory committees, headed by a retired high court judge in each state, set up as per its direction in the Islamic Academy judgement to monitor the functioning of private colleges, the apex court said: “Such regulation does not violate the right of minorities under Article 30(1) or non-minorities under Article 19(1).”

The court hoped that the respective state governments would come out with legislation to put in place a regulatory mechanism for private institutions and till then the regulatory committees would continue to function as ad hoc measure.

It cautioned the committees against “generalising” the fee structure, but said they could go into the accounts of the colleges, look into their schemes, plans and budgets for the purpose of finding out what would be “an ideal and reasonable fee for that particular institution”.

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