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Order on seats surrender struck down

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Provisions of a State law, mandating surrender of seats by unaided professional colleges, and admission for management quota seats on the basis of marks in qualifying examinations and through centralised counselling, were struck down by the Madras High Court on Thursday.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice P. Jyothimani, however, ruled that last year’s “consensual arrangement” between the unaided institutions and the Government with regard to seat-sharing as well as admission modalities, should be followed this year.

The conditions, applicable only for this year, include adherence to the rule of reservation and fee structure as stipulated by a statutory committee.

The constitutional validity of three provisions of the Tamil Nadu Admission in Professional Educational Institution Act were challenged by associations of self-financing professional institutions.

Section 2(c)(iii) said non-minority institutions should surrender 65 per cent of the total intake, whereas colleges enjoying minority status must surrender 50 per cent of the seats.

Admissions

While Section 4(1) stipulated admissions on the basis of qualifying examination marks, Section 5(4) said admission to management quota should be done through centralised counselling.

On July 2, Justice V. Dhanapalan had upheld the validity of these provisions.

On Thursday, the First Bench said Sections 4(1) and 5(4) were ultra vires the Constitution as they offended the Fundamental Right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business, and the right of minoriti es to establish and administer educational institutions.

It, however, said last year’s agreement between the Government and the colleges should be followed this year, as Advocate-General R. Viduthalai had informed the court that 160 colleges had individually consented to follow last year’s pattern, and also because the admission process had already commenced.

The seats to be retained by the managements should be filled up on the basis of “multiple window system” satisfying the triple test of fairness, non-exploitation and transparency, the Bench said.

The colleges must furnish a list of admitted students, their rank and fee collected from them, along with other particulars to the statutory committee formed for the purpose.

Government to appeal

The Higher Education Minister, K. Ponmudy, said the Tamil Nadu Government would move the Supreme Court against the order, and said the Government would do everything to safeguard the interests of students.

He said the counselling for engineering admissions would be held on July 18 as scheduled.

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