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Admitted Students without Recognition and So Must Suffer Consequences: Madras HC Imposes Rs 5 Lakh Cost on College

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Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

Published on: 18 April 2023 at 12:04 IST

While displaying absolute zero tolerance in  refusing to grant any relief whatsoever to the Arulmigu Kalasalingam College of Education, we see that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Arulmigu Kalasalingam College of Education v. The Appeal Committee and others in W.P(MD).No.21747 of 2022 and WMP(MD)No.15915 of 2022 that was finally pronounced on April 12, 2023 has been most forthright in heavily criticizing the college for admitting students in the 2021-22 academic year when did not have any affiliation.

It must be mentioned here that while refusing to grant relief to Arulmigu Kalasalingam College of Education, the Madras High Court imposed a heavy cost of five lakh rupees on the College.

The Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice CV Karthikeyan said that the college should suffer the consequences of its actions and also left it open to the students to litigate against the college for the damages made.   

At the very outset, this remarkable, robust, rational and recent judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice CV Karthikeyan of Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The Writ Petition has been filed in the nature of mandamus, directing the third respondent/Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University to grant continuation of affiliation from 2021-2022 to the petitioner’s University and to permit the students of the petitioner’s University to undergo School Internship Teaching Practice and to appear for the I and II Semester Examination.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 2 that, “The writ petition had been filed on 12.09.2022. At that particular point of time, the relief sought for by the petitioner was to permit the students, who had been admitted in the petitioner’s University to write their I and II semester examination. No interim order was granted. Time passed and now the fourth semester examination is scheduled to be conducted from 17.04.2023. Since the matter had been mentioned being urgent, listed on yesterday (ie., 11.04.2023) and again on today (ie., 12.04.2023).”

To recapitulate, the Bench then recalls in para 4 that, “The petitioner had been visited with an order issued by the first respondent on 03.12.2019, which can be termed as a show-cause notice under Section 17 of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993, as to why the recognition of the petitioner need not be withdrawn by the first and second respondents. There were several defects found in the college, necessitating the first respondent to issue the show-cause notice. For that show-cause notice, the writ petitioner had given a reply on 17.12.2019.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then discloses in para 5 that, “Thereafter, the petitioner had applied for continuation of Provisional Affiliation on 14.10.2020. Again, a show-cause notice was then issued by the first respondent again under Section 17 of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 on 27.02.2020. This was also replied by the petitioner on 17.03.2020.”

Further, the Bench then specifies in para 6 that, “The issue kept moving back and front between the petitioner and the first respondent. Finally an order has been passed and published in Gazette Part III Section 4 on 16.03.2021, which can be termed as a ‘withdrawal’ order. However, the writ petition has not been filed by the petitioner, questioning that particular order.”

Furthermore, the Bench then also reveals in para 7 that, “Consequent to such withdrawal, the third respondent namely, the Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University, which governs the petitioner had withdrawn the affiliation of the college.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 8 that, “In and around April, May and June, 2021, admission to various courses were conducted even though the petitioner had no recognition, had no affiliation with the third respondent. The petitioner was a body in suspended animation.”

Be it also noted, the Bench notes in para 9 that, “Later, a notice had also been issued by the third respondent on 28.07.2021, in which, they had pointed out that there was no approval, no recognition and no affiliation and therefore a caution was issued that the petitioner should not admit any student.”

What’s more, the Bench points out in para 10 that, “The course under issue is B.Ed., Course. They train students to become teachers. For a student, who aspires to become a teacher, to uphold moral ethics should be the first quality. While that being so, the petitioner has fallen foul with that ethics.”

It deserves mentioning that the Bench mentions in para 11 that, “Even after the caution issued by the third respondent, the petitioner commenced admitting 100 students. After admitting 100 students, the petitioner has filed the writ petition placing sympathy upon the students and seeking permission for them to write first and second semesters, which was the relief sought for in the writ petition. During arguments permission was sought to write the third and fourth semesters also, since the course has four semesters. The students have not written any semester examination from the time of admission.”

It cannot be glossed over that the Bench glaringly points out in para 12 that, “The petitioner had filed an appeal before the Appellate Authority against the withdrawal order. It is complained by the learned counsel for the petitioner that owing to Covid-19 pandemic, the petitioner was not able to appear before the Appellate Authority. However, by order, dated 02.09.2022, the recognition, which had been withdrawn, had been again granted to the petitioner herein. That order came into force from the academic year 2022-23 onwards. But the fact is that the petitioner had admitted the students, during the academic year 2021-22, even without approval or affiliation. The petitioner did not take any steps to transfer the students to another college. They had also collected fees from them.”

Quite pertinently, the Bench lays bare in para 13 that, “My attention is drawn to the Rules and Regulations of the third respondent. Chapter 13 relates to Approval of Colleges. Clause No. 40 is as follows:

(40) Affiliation not granted with retrospective effect

(i) Affiliation or approval shall in no case be granted with retrospective effect. Attendance at courses of instruction provided in colleges or in subjects before affiliation or approval is granted shall not qualify for the grant of certificates of attendance for purposes of University Examination and such attendance shall not entitle any candidate for exemption from the production of certificates of attendance.

(ii) No college/management of college shall advertise new courses or invite, in any other manner, applications for admission to new courses or admit students to new courses before getting the order of grant of affiliation for the Degree Courses from the University. If any college/management of college does so, applications for affiliation for further courses shall not be entertained from such erring college(s) for a period of five years, and such college(s) shall be liable for penal action deemed fit as indicated in Statute 6 of this Chapter.”

Needless to say, the Bench then propounds in para 14 that, “From a reading of the Clause, it is evident that affiliation cannot be granted with retrospective effect. The petitioner, as a Deemed University, cannot claim ignorance of this particular Clause. They cannot claim innocence of the particular Clause. They cannot seek indulgence of this Court.”       

Simply put, the Bench states in para 15 that, “It is also seen that similar provision has also been given by the first respondent, which is governed by the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 and the corresponding Rule National Council for Teacher Education Rules, 1997.”     

Quite significantly, the Bench then expounds in para 17 stating that, “Section 17(4) of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 very specifically states that if any degree is granted by a College, which had admitted students during the period when the College suffered from withdrawal of recognition or affiliation, then such a degree or certificate cannot be treated as a valid qualification for the purpose of employment under the Central Government or State Government or under any University, or any School, or any College or any Educational Body either aided by the Central Government or by the State Government. The petitioner must be aware of all these rules. If they are not aware, they have no right to function as an University. They had still admitted 100 students in the year 2021.”

Most significantly, the Bench minces just no words to hold in para 18 that, “The learned counsel for the petitioner projected the plight of the students. It is the petitioner who has to answer as they had admitted the students. This Court cannot come to the rescue of the petitioner. The Petitioner is probably of the opinion that by considering the condition of the students, this Court would pass a favourable order. But the petitioner cannot expect such an order from this Court and they should suffer the consequences, since they had violated the rules and they had not followed the rules.”

Most damningly, the Bench then mandates in para 24 observing that, “As repeatedly pointed out, the petitioner had admitted the students without recognition, without affiliation, without right and without authority. I really wonder as to how the petitioner had collected fees from the students with a clean conscience. The petitioner has to suffer the consequence of any order passed.”

Most forthrightly, the Bench then also minces just no words to hold unequivocally in para 25 that, “However, considering the welfare of the students, a request is placed on the respondents 1 to 3 to examine the possibility of transfer of the students to any other college, which is recognised and if rules permit, the students may also be scattered to several institutions and thereafter, permit them to write the semester examinations,”.

If a certificate is obtained from the petitioner’s College, which has no approval, no affiliation, the same cannot be used by the students for any purpose. It would only remain a paper and can never be put to any constructive use in the future at all. The students would never get employment in any School, College or University or anywhere.”

Far most significantly, the Bench most decisively holds and directs in para 26 that, “Accordingly, this writ petition stands dismissed with costs of Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees Five Lakhs only) payable to the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Legal Services Committee, Madurai,”.

The member Secretary of the said Committee is directed to contact the Chair Person, Virudhunagar District Legal Services Committee and reach out to the 100 students, who were admitted by the petitioner, examine the students and disburse the amount to those 100 students as per the apportionment fixed by the Member Secretary.”

Finally, the Bench concludes by holding in para 27 that, “However, the students are also permitted to institute any litigation, apart from this petition, if they seek for damages or any other monetary compensation as against the petitioner. They should get a degree from an institution which is recognized. All the students may take the above steps if they are so advised and to alleviate their grievances if any. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.”

In sum, we thus see that the Madras High Court while taking potshots at Arulmigu Kalasalingam College of Education for admitting students in the 2021-2022 academic year when it did not have any affiliation held that it must suffer consequences and imposed a heavy cost of Rs 5 lakh to be paid by it.

It is the biggest warning to all such educational institutes not to admit students until they don’t have any affiliation otherwise they would be made to pay through their nose as we see in this leading case also. There can be just no denying it!