The private unaided professional institutions have filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court against the All India Council for Technical Education's (AICTE) latest norms for approval of new institutions or renewal of the existing ones for academic year (AY) 2011-12. The institutions have dubbed the norms as arbitrary, illegal, illogical and in contravention of various Supreme Court judgements. The private institutions are protesting against AICTE's new norms that came out in December 10, 2010. They mainly include “drastic” increase in the deposit money to be kept with the AICTE with a 10-year lock-in period for starting an engineering college, hike in processing fee under various heads, reduction in NRI admission quota from 15% to 5%, stringent punitive measures against non-compliance of refund in case of cancellation of admission, maintenance of faculty-student ratio, provision of 10 laboratories per course and constitution of board of governors by the institutions and providing for representation of two AICTE nominees. The Federation of Associations of Managements of Unaided Professional Educational Institutions, which is the apex body of private unaided professional colleges in the country, has decided to take legal action against AICTE. The vice president R.P. Joshi said the decision is unanimous. “The federation had asked all its member associations to submit their views on the new approval norms. We (AMUEC) did so by expressing our concern over provisions like the hike in fixed deposit to be kept with the AICTE from the existing Rs 35 lakh to Rs 90 lakh for a 10-year period.” He said, “The norms provide that the deposit money will be refunded at the end of 10 years, but the AICTE will retain the interest earned on the same,” said Joshi. Further expressing his concern over the norm of maintaining 100% faculty in the private institutes, “The norms relating to maintenance of 100% faculty is impractical, considering the acute shortage of faculty faced by engineering colleges across the country. The Rama Rao committee, which was appointed by AICTE itself in the past, has recognised the faculty problem in its report”, he said. Meanwhile, AMUEC is also claiming that the new approval norms are contradictory to the apex court rulings in landmark cases such as the TMA Pai Foundation as well as the Islamic Academy of Education vs State of Karnataka; and the P A Inamdar vs State of Maharashtra, which are quite clear about the private institution's rights to fees and admissions. It is to be noted the timing litigation falls very close to the AICTE's schedule for approval of new professional institutions, including engineering colleges. The last date for filing of pleas with the AICTE is February 28. The federation moved the petition on February 15 seeking the court's intervention on the grounds that the AICTE may not accept their applications for not having fulfilled the new norms. On February 18, the Delhi high court's single-judge bench of justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, which heard the petition, ruled that the institutions can file their applications by the stipulated date subject to further orders in the writ petition. The AMUEC controls 177 private unaided engineering colleges in Maharashtra while the federation involves similar associations from key states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Orissa and Gujarat, among others.
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