According to the latest news from the Indian Education Fraternity the Himachal Pradesh high court has upheld the government’s decision to close down eight government degree colleges that had reportedly been opened in haste, without proper infrastructure and budgetary provisions, by the outgoing government last year, and dismissed a bunch of petitions challenging the new government’s decision.
After hearing both sides, the division bench of Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh observed that the first issue that needs to be examined is whether the impugned decision of the state government is legal or not.
Writing for the bench, Justice Khanwilkar noted, “There can be no difficulty in conceding to the state government move to undo its earlier decision after a review of the situation.”
In all, eight petitions filed by affected parents or students, pertaining to the eight colleges opened between June 23, 2012 and September 6, 2012 at Rewalsar, Nihri, Ladbharol, Baldwara, Sarahan, Nankhari, Kasauli and Kotla, were set aside by the court, which did not accept the contention that the decision to shut down these institutions was taken out of political vendetta.
“It is neither a case of casual decision taken by the new government nor because of any political vendetta, but purely on the basis of records considered during the cabinet meeting in which the said decision was taken,” the judges observed.
Before adjudicating on the petitions, the court recorded that for the 2012-13 academic session, there were only 104 students admitted in the eight colleges, which were opened hurriedly in makeshift accommodations of three to five rooms.
For 2013-14, the government had set aside a budget of Rs 192 crore for higher education that would cater to the needs of the existing 67 government degree colleges, 1,327 senior secondary schools and 848 high schools. A new college involved a minimum investment of Rs 5 crore just for civil works, which had not been contemplated in the budgetary provisions, the court recorded.
Before de-notifying the opening of new colleges on March 2, 2013, the court, after examining the original file, noted that the cabinet on February 19, 2013 took a conscious decision in public interest.
Inputs, provided by a review undertaken by higher education department to the cabinet, clearly revealed the inadequate strength of students and lack of infrastructure in new colleges opened, the judges observed.