Telangana HC dismisses private colleges’ pleas for new courses, higher intake

Telangana High Court
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Telangana High Court dismissed a batch of writ petitions filed by private engineering colleges questioning the State government’s rejection of permission to introduce courses and increase seats.

Pronouncing the verdict, a bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice C.V. Bhaskar Reddy also dismissed the private colleges’ contentions challenging regulations 3.4, 5.5 and 5.6 of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Affiliation Procedure and Regulations. The colleges wanted to start B.Tech courses in emerging subjects like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Block Chain Technology, Robotics, Data Sciences and Cyber Security.

The State government, however, declined to permit new courses stating that intake of more students might adversely impact its finances. The colleges, in their pleas, also questioned validity of the regulations relating to affiliation procedures. The government contended that enhancement of student intake by the colleges, which had filed the writ petitions, was coming to 2,670 seats.

For one academic year, the financial implication of these seats was ₹13.90 crore. For four years, it was ₹55.61crore. “That additional intake of seats would certainly have a financial bearing on the State exchequer. Therefore, the view of the State government becomes relevant,” the bench said in the judgment.

The government, in a memo issued on November 12, rejected Commissioner of Technical Education’s proposal to introduce courses and increase the intake in private unaided professional colleges for 2022-23 academic year. The government cited it as a policy decision. “It cannot be said to be an extraneous or irrelevant or non-germane consideration,” the verdict said.

The judgment said the HC had, earlier in a writ petition, ruled that it was illegal not to permit new courses by private colleges. But the JNTU moved the Supreme Court challenging this decision. The apex court allowed the Special Leave Petition filed by the JNTU observing that “it was erroneous for the HC to hold that it was not permissible for the State government to frame a policy”.

The regulations challenged by the private colleges mandate that prior permission of the State government is a must, either to start a course or to increase intake of students. But the Approval Process Handbook 2022-23 of All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) maintains that such permission by State government would not be necessary.

Citing a verdict of apex court, the division bench observed in the judgment that the question relating to increase in intake or new courses is an unoccupied field by any Central legislation like the AICTE Act. In this backdrop, “it is certainly open to State government to have its say in matters relating to increase in seat intake or setting up of new courses,” the verdict said.

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