Thursday, March 30, 2023

Allahabad High Court quashes Rs 1 lakh fine imposed by Lucknow University on college

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The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday has quashed the fine of Rs 1 lakh imposed by Lucknow University on a college.

A single-judge bench of Justice Vivek Chaudhary while hearing a petition filed by Bappa Sri Narain Vocational Institute (BSNVI) through Ratnakar Shukla noted, “In the given facts and circumstance of the case, the question as to whether the University has any right to give a temporary association or can only give a permanent association need not be gone into in the case and the said question is left open to the decided in appropriate case.”

The bench further observed, “There is no dispute that the petitioner institution has existed since before independence. By Government Order dated October 21, 2005, the Government had put strict conditions with regard to the manner in which the ownership of the land was required to be proved, while submitting an application for opening of new colleges or for initiating new subjects/classes in an existing college. The said Government Order dated October 21, 2005 was modified by the Government Order dated December 22, 2016. In the case, the petitioner institution has applied for starting of new subjects,”

The dispute started with the Government Order dated October 21, 2005, whereby the State Government laid down the standards for opening of new degree colleges and recognition and association for additional subjects/courses at graduated and post graduate level in the existing colleges.

The Lucknow University registrar had imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on BSNVI by an order dated August 5, 2020. The registrar had also passed another order dated September 10, 2020 that the temporary association of BSNVI was being extended as a last opportunity. The second order decreed that it should get a spot inspection done within three months and submit a report by December 31, 2020 failing which it will be automatically debarred recognition for Session 2021-2022.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted, “admittedly the petitioner institution is running since 1954 and on the same land new course of B.Com was started from the year 2008 with temporary association.”

Thus, the petitioner institution is covered by the Government Order dated December 22, 2016. In view thereof, University is required to take final decision on the inspection report submitted by its committee. Once the decision was pending at the end of the University, after all the formalities on part of the petitioner institution were completed, neither any penalty could be imposed upon the petitioner nor any warning could be given to it.

The stand of the University is that since it is awaiting clarification from the State Government, it is unable to give permanent association to the petitioner institution.

It is also submitted on behalf of the University that petitioner institution had not taken timely steps for its recognition, therefore, as per the decision of the Executive Council, penalty is imposed upon the institution and it is also warned to get the needful done forthwith for its permanent recognition, failing which, consequences as indicated in the impugned letter would follow.

Therefore, in the case is covered by two condition as modified by the Government Order dated December 22, 2016, which after modification provides that, along with the proposal for the new course, the applicant college in existence since prior to Government Order dated October 21, 2005, is required to submit its’ no objection certificate along with an affidavit that the land available with the college since its establishment is still available with it and the new course would be run on the said land only, the court said.

The Court held, “the petitioner institution fulfills the said modified conditions of the Government Order dated December 22, 2016. The said fact is also noted by the Inspecting Committee by its report dated June 22, 2018. Thus, the University was required to decide the application of the petitioners’ college as per the Government Order dated December 22, 2016. The University instead of deciding the same had referred the matter to the State Government on September 07, 2019.
Once, the University had referred the matter to the State Government, it cannot turn back and say that there is any delay on part of the college in getting the college associated permanently within the period of four year. The college had done everything at its end and it was for the University to take further steps.”

Therefore, imposition of penalty of Rs. 1,00,000/- (One Lakh) by order dated August 05, 2020 upon the college, for not doing the needful for permanent association within the period of four years, cannot stand and is set aside.

Similarly,  the letter of the University dated September 10, 2020 by which the University has given temporary association only for the session 2020-2021 with the condition imposed that the same is being extended for the last time is incorrect. The said condition that extension is being extended for that the last time in a letter dated September 10, 2020 is also set aside. The University will take a final decision on grant of permanent association to the petitioner college, in the light of above, within a period of three months, the Court ordered.

The petitioner institution was initially established as a degree college in the year 1954 and the Executive Council of Lucknow University, in its meeting dated May 14, 1954, took a decision to grant it recognition as an associate college, to run its courses of Bachelor of Arts. The college was upgraded to the post graduate level and named Bappa Sri Narain Vocational Post Graduate College an associate college of Lucknow University recognized in the year 1995-96. For the purposes of granting association for certain subjects and for similar other purposes it was found necessary that the area over which the petitioner institution was initially established be separately earmarked and was so done.

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