Publish recognition and affiliation details of medical, engineering and other professional colleges, and punish or award damages to students who are misled by unscrupulous managements into joining colleges that do not have statutory sanction to take students.
This is the Madras high court’s prescription to usher in better accountability and responsibility in the education sector, where instances of students ending up in unrecognised courses or being admitted in excess of the permitted intake are on the rise.
Justice KK Sasidharan, dismissing a writ petition filed by St John’s College of Nursing seeking regularisation of students admitted in excess of the permitted intake, said cancellation of recognition or denial of affiliation or reduction of student intake in professional colleges should not be a ‘secret affair’.
Pointing out that there were no appropriate regulations to punish managements involved in such irregularities, the judge also laid down a set of stringent guidelines and said statutory bodies such as MCI, AICTE, nursing and dental councils must consider adopting the norms with appropriate modifications.
Every year, before the admission process for medical, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, teaching, law and other courses begins, the statutory body concerned should publish within three days of publication of Plus Two results the list of colleges entitled to admit students along with the sanctioned intake.
Justice Sasidharan also favoured a mechanism for awarding damages to students whose careers are seriously jeopardized by unscrupulous management of colleges/schools that admit students without statutory recognition/affiliation in violation of rules. Details such as pending applications, grant of approval and the final list of approved institutions, too, should be published by the regulatory authorities concerned before the last date prescribed for submission of applications, he said.
The judge was passing orders on a writ petition of St John’s College of Nursing which had admitted 50 students though its intake had been reduced to 30. Admitting that 20 students had been admitted in excess of the sanctioned limit, it wanted the court to regularise their admission and allow them to write their examination.
Rejecting the plea, Justice Sasidharan said students joined the institution without knowing that the intake limit had been slashed. “The illegal admissions would come in the open only when the university declines to permit students to write the public examination. The students would realise only at that point of time that they had been cheated. The students ultimately would lose money as well as their valuable time by studying in such unrecognised institutions,” he said.
Slamming college managements that had turned a noble cause into a lucrative business, Justice Sasidharan agreed with a senior counsel’s submissions that the statutory bodies were primarily responsible for this sorry state of affairs and poor students were being made scapegoats.
He dismissed the writ petition of the nursing institution saying, “there is no question of showing any kind of indulgence in a matter of this nature.”
The Madras high court’s punitive guidelines for rogue managements have not come a moment too soon. The verdict echoes the popular concern that there is no law to award compensation to students who lose money and time by first joining a college/course without statutory sanction, and then fight court battles in vain. Colleges flout law during admissions and then use the illegally admitted students as human shields to win court sympathy to continue the fraud. The high court has called their bluff finally.