SC approves Rs 23.10 cr penalty slapped on FORE School of Management

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SC approves Rs 23.10 cr penalty slapped on FORE School of ManagementNew Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday permitted the AICTE to penalize FORE School of Management a whopping Rs 23.10 crore for creating additional seats under certain courses without its requisite approval.

The court, however, did not set aside the admission of the students, referring to it an extremely harsh action, and observing the students should not suffer for the illegal action of the institution.

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A vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant ruled that the institution, located in the Qutub Institutional Area in south Delhi, was not allowed to admit students beyond the sanctioned numbers, as it put students’ future at stake.

“We have no doubt in our mind that the action of the petitioner in granting admission to the students beyond the seats sanctioned is totally illegal and contrary to law,” said the court.

The counsel for the management school had sought to draw the court’s attention on the various communications exchanged between the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the management school, and contended “that inaction of the AICTE in not responding to the request of the petitioner (management school) for the increase in the seats was itself an arbitrary action and the reasons given for not permitting increase in the intake in the courses was totally illegal”.

The management school also argued that it submitted an affidavit, stating it will remove all the deficiencies before the session commences, and urged the penalty imposed is “highly excessive and arbitrary”.

The AICTE, however, contended that it has a clear policy, especially with regard to the students who have come from abroad. “The penalty has been imposed strictly in accordance with the Approval Process Handbook (2016-17) of the AICTE,” its counsel said.

The court observed that even assuming that the AICTE’s decision was not correct, the institution had no business to admit students beyond the number permitted. “The petitioner could not take law into its own hand and grant admissions to students in excess of the seats permitted by the AICTE,” it said.

It noted the institution admitted 42 additional students in 2016 and charged them Rs 11 lakh each for the course, without mandatory approval from AICTE and that the AICTE had gone by its handbook for the imposition of the penalty.

“The petitioner (institution) has been let off lightly since one one penalty has been imposed,” the court said.

The court also directed the students who have completed the courses concerned shall be awarded degree certificates.

“Students who had paid large sums of money should not be made to suffer. They have already completed the course, but the degrees have not been awarded to them. We, therefore, direct that the degrees be awarded to the students,” said the court.

The FORE School of Management has already deposited Rs 4 crore during the pendency of the case. The court directed it deposit additional Rs 19.10 crore within eight weeks with the AICTE.

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