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Professional colleges Bill: Govt, managements lock horns

Written by: Staff
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Thiruvananthapuram, July 4:  The Kerala Government and the managements of the self-financing professional colleges have locked horns with the Government which is determined to take tough action against the managements, which violated the recently passed Self-Financing Professional colleges Bill on the other hand, the managements are firm on taking the issue to the court and closing down their colleges.

Two days after the Governor gave his assent to the Kerala Professional Colleges (Prohibition of Capitation Fee, Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Non-Exploitative Fee and Other Measures to Ensure Equity and Excellence in Professional Education) Bill, the managements of the self-financing colleges have threatened to close their colleges. if their interests were ignored and also to move the Court to challenge the legislation.

The Left Democratic Front(LDF), Government, however, had given the managements three days time for coming to terms with the new legislation, once the schedule for admissions was published on July five. The Government, which was so determined to bring in the legislation had said that it would not support ''commercialisation'' of education and would ensure the weaker sections of society all facilities for higher education and the Bill was a step in this direction.

Terming the legislation as an ''attempt'' to grab admissions to the self-financing professional colleges at any cost and to destroy such institutions financially, the managements alleged that under the guise of controlling capitation fees and fixing exploitation-free fees to ensure justice and merit, the proposed Bill was a deep-rooted conspiracy against self-financing college managements designed to hoodwink the public on the other.

They also expressed their reservation about the penal provisions in the Bill. Reacting strongly to the managements' threat to close down the colleges if the law was imposed on them, State Education Minister M A Baby had said the Government knew how to deal with such a situation.

In strong words, he said if a self-financing professional college had to function in the State, it should have to cooperate with the state government. Only a section of the managements was against the Act and that the opposition was with ''ulterior motives'', he alleged.

The Bill was based on the directives of the Supreme court in the Inamdar versus the State of Maharashtra case, which had specified that admissions to professional courses should be just and transparent, he said and added that those who opposed the bill were opposing the SC directives.

He said the State Government would seek the help of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the legislation protection of the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had also said that the Government was aware of the threats from vested interests in the private sector and was fully prepared to face any eventuality by the implementation of the new law. Along with the managements, the Opposition had also alleged that the new legislation was not in tune with the provisions of the Constitution and earlier verdicts of the Supreme Court. Pointing out that the Bill lacked clarity, they said there were several ambiguities which had to be cleared.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and other United Democratic Front(UDF) leaders said the Bill did not have any clear provisions relating to the minority status of self-financing colleges. They noted that there were several clauses that would not stand the scrutiny of law and might come in conflict with the Central laws.

There were several provisions in the Bill that were not practical and would end up playing into the hands of the managements, they said.

During the discussion on the Bill in the Assembly, though the Opposition expressed their willingness to fully cooperate with the Government in getting the Bill passed without delay in the larger interests of students seeking admissions to higher education, they contested the Constitutional validity of the Bill, as it was ultra vires of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment Bill.

The Governor R L Bhatia gave his assent to the Bill on July two.

The Act provides for reservation to socialy, educationally and economically backward sections of society, besides physically challenged persons. The total reservation for these categories was 50 per cent.

Fee concessions and freeships were available to 50 per cent of the students. The managements will have a quota of 30 per cent consisting of privilege seats and NRI seats (15 per cent each).

Admissions will be through a single-window system supervised by the Commissioner of Entrance Examination.

UNI

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