The Madras High Court today directed four self-financing deemed universities of Puducherry, which charged up to 50 lakh as fee for their post graduate medical courses, to admit students in these courses at an annual fee of Rs 10 lakhs.
In an interim order, a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder also asked the UGC and the HRD Ministry to urgently set up a fee committee to examine and fix the fees structure for these deemed universities.
The bench gave its order on a public interest lawsuit by advocate V B R Menon on the issue of "exorbitant fees" between Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh demanded by the deemed universities for their post graduate courses.
The order was promptly hailed by Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, who has personally intervened in the admission issue during the past few weeks much to the chagrin of Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy.
The CM had criticised Bedi for her directions to the officials involved in the ongoing counselling process for the PG medical courses and accused her of adopting a "misleading approach" on the matter.
"Justice prevails.... It is a day of celebration and joy for the students who have got a relief in the wake of the interim order of the Madras High court.... They are now to get the PG seats allotted to them at a justified fee," she said.
The chief minister on his part said he bowed to the court order but added there was no criticism of CENTAC, the nodal agency for selecting students for professional courses, contrary to the statements of Bedi that the body needed overhauling.
In a sharp attack on her, Narayanaswamy accused her of making statements through social media only for 'publicity' and "being inclined to tarnish the image of the government.
"If she has no faith or confidence in us, she can leave Puducherry for good," he said amid the continuing tussle between his government and Bedi over various issues.
Incidentally, Bedi had last year threatened to leave Puducherry if officials did not cooperate with her.
The high court asked the students, who have already cleared their tests for the post graduate medical courses but were not able to secure the admission owing to the "exorbitant" fees, to take admissions by June 19 evening and start attending their classes from the next day.
The students would pay the "differential fee," if any, to the courses after the same is decided by the fee committee set up by the HRD ministry and the UGC.
The court passed the order in an extra-ordinary situation days after the deemed universities had closed the admission despite many seats remaining vacant owing to the students' failure in arranging the huge fees.
The court rejected the self-financing deemed universities contention that they charge such a huge fee to provide much better facilities to students.
In a press meet convened to brief about the court order, Bedi said Rajnivas was also a respondent in the case. She had directed her Secretary Theva Needhi Dhas to file a counter placing on record the facts available with Raj Nivas in support of the meritorious students of Puducherry.
She said 'deficiencies' noted in the functioning of the CENTAC would be rectified by taking appropriate remedial action.
"The CENTAC needs to be overhauled and we need a new committee," she said.
Bedi had on May 30 conducted a surprise inspection of the counselling process by the CENTAC and directed officials to ensure 50 per cent of seats available under government quota were filled and not given to private colleges.
Shortly after Bedi's media interaction, Narayanasamy said "I bow to the interim order of the Madras High Court."
"We have always been taking care of the students and as a matter of fact this is the first time that the students of Puducherry have been procured by the consistent efforts of the present government a 50 per cent allocation of seats in PG courses under government quota," he told reporters.
He said Bedi had been making several allegations against officials and political leaders on the medical college admission issue without any basis.
"There was no criticism of the functioning of the CENTAC by the court and hence where was the need for overhauling the committee as had been insisted by the Lt Governor," the chief minister said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)