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Fr. Thomas Melvettath, Chairman, Vimal Jyothi Engineering College, Kannur District v/s The All India Council for Technical Education, Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasaan Kunju, Represented By Its Member Secretary & Others

    WP(C). Nos. 16675, 17295 & 18478 of 2018

    Decided On, 02 July 2018

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ANIL K. NARENDRAN

    For the Petitioner: George Mecheril, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, K.S. Jaykar, R2, S. Krishnamoorthy, Sc, R3, B. Unnikrishna Kaimal, Government Pleader.



Judgment Text

1. The common issue raised in these writ petitions is as to whether the approval granted by the All India Council for Technical Education (for brevity, 'the AICTE') for additional course/increase in intake in a Post Graduate or Under Graduate programme/course in Engineering and Technology will result in automatic affiliation for such additional course/increase in intake by the affiliating University, i.e., APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

2. W.P.(C)No.16675 of 2018:- The petitioner in this writ petition is the Chairman of Vimal Jyothy Engineering College, Chemperi in Kannur District, which is a Self-Financing Engineering College affiliated to the 2nd respondent APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, offering six P.G. and six U.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology, with the approval of the 1st respondent AICTE. Ext.P1 is the extension of approval granted by the AICTE, on 30.04.2017, for the academic year 2017-18. Pursuant to Ext.P2 notification issued by the AICTE inviting applications for approval from all the existing and proposed Technical Institutions for conducting technical programmes/courses for the academic year 2018-19, the petitioner applied for extension of approval for the existing P.G. and U.G. courses and also for increasing the annual intake of B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from 60 to 120.

2.1. The 2nd respondent University issued Ext.P3 notification dated 21.02.2018 inviting online application for affiliation of existing and new Technical Institutions, which conducts P.G. and U.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology, MBA, MCA and Architecture for the academic year 2018-19. As per Ext.P3 notification, online application can be submitted from 22.02.2018 to 08.03.2018, and the last date of submission of application with fine was 14.03.2018. As per the said notification, the process of affiliation of programmes to the 2nd respondent University shall be based on the norms and standards specified in the Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 of the AICTE and based on the norms and guidelines issued by the University from time to time.

2.2. Going by the averments in paragraph 4 of the writ petition, pursuant to Ext.P3 notification dated 21.02.2018, the petitioner applied for additional affiliation of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, for the academic year 2018-19, by submitting Ext.P4 application on 07.03.2018 before the 2nd respondent University. A perusal of Ext.P4/1 would show that, it is not an online application as contemplated under Ext.P3 notification, but only an email dated 07.03.2018 of the Principal of the College, addressed to the University, with a request to grant affiliation for the additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering. As borne out from Ext.P4/2 letter dated 07.03.2018 of the Principal, addressed to the University, the petitioner submitted online application for extension of affiliation, on 07.03.2018, for the existing intake, and the University was informed that an application for increase of the annual intake in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering shall be submitted after receiving approval from the AICTE.

2.3. The 1st respondent AICTE, vide Ext.P5 extension of approval dated 10.04.2018, granted extension of approval for the existing intake of six P.G and six U.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology in the petitioner's college, for the academic year 2018-19. By Ext.P5, the AICTE has also granted approval for additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering for the academic year 2018-19, by increasing the annual intake from 60 to 120. On receipt of a copy of Ext.P5, the petitioner submitted Ext.P6 request dated 21.04.2018 before the University for extension of affiliation of the existing courses and also affiliation for the additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering. Ext.P7 is a copy of the reminder sent on 08.05.2018. On 15.05.2018, the 2nd respondent University issued Ext.P8 order granting extension of provisional affiliation for conducting six P.G. and six U.G. programmes for the academic year 2018-19; however, without taking into account the AICTE approval for an additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering.

2.4. By Ext.P9 notification dated 15.05.2018, the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations, Kerala requested the Principals of all Professional Colleges in the State to submit the basic details of courses, number of seats, etc., in connection with the Centralised Allotment Process for admission to Professional Degree Courses in Kerala, 2018. On 22.05.2018, the petitioner filed this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of mandamus commanding the 2nd respondent University to consider Ext.P6 request dated 21.07.2018 for additional affiliation of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, based on Ext.P5 approval by the AICTE, forthwith, at any rate before starting Centralised Allotment Process, 2018. The petitioner has also sought for other consequential reliefs.

2.5. On 23.05.2018, when this writ petition came up for admission, the learned Standing Counsel for the 1st respondent AICTE and also the learned Standing Counsel for the 2nd respondent University sought time to file statement.

2.6. A statement has been filed on behalf of the 2nd respondent University, wherein it has been stated that the application made by the petitioner on 07.03.2018 for extension of affiliation was in respect of the existing annual intake sanctioned by the AICTE in Ext.P1 extension of approval dated 30.03.2018 for the academic year 2017- 18. Based on that application, extension of affiliation was granted vide Ext.P8 order dated 15.05.2018 for the academic year 2018-19, on the strength of an undertaking in the form of an affidavit, and subject to the institution getting approval from the AICTE for the course/intake. The 2nd respondent would contend that, in order to get affiliation for the additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, based on the approval granted by the AICTE in Ext.P5, the petitioner has to make an application for affiliation, and based on such application, the University has to conduct an inspection for assessing the infrastructure, etc. and get a report of 'no deficiency'. As per Ext.P3 notification dated 21.02.2018 issued by the University inviting applications for affiliation of existing and new Technological Institutions for the academic year 2018-19, the gateway for submission of online application was open till 08.03.2018, which was extended for a further

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period of two weeks. Since no application with the letter of approval of the AICTE was submitted in time, affiliation for the additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, based on Ext.P5 approval granted by the AICTE, cannot be entertained for the academic year 2018-19. Ext.P6 email dated 21.04.2018 cannot be considered as an application for affiliation, especially when such application should be in the prescribed format, which the University entertains through a web portal; and a hard copy of such application in Affidavit No.1 has also to be submitted on a later date. In such circumstances, the University considered the application made by the petitioner on 07.03.2018 and granted extension of affiliation for the academic year 2018-19, for the existing intake, vide Ext.P8 order dated 15.05.2018.

2.7. In the statement, the 2nd respondent University would also contend that, the 3rd respondent State has taken a policy decision not to grant permission to open new engineering colleges or additional courses or additional intake for the academic year 2018-19 in any self-financing institutions in the State. As per the procedure, NOC has to be obtained from the State Government as well as the University for starting new institution/additional intake. No such NOC has been obtained by the petitioner institution. Further, the petitioner had approached this Court in this writ petition only on 21.03.2018. In view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Parsvanath Charitable Trust v. All India Council for Technical Education [(2013) 3 SCC 385] the cut-off date for granting affiliation by the University, for the academic year 2018-19, was 15.05.2018. As per the said decision, all the authorities, including Universities, should adhere to the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court and there shall be no deviation of the said cut-off date. As such, the University cannot grant affiliation for the additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering for the academic year 2018-19. Hence, on the strength of Ext.P6 approval by the AICTE, grant of affiliation for the additional intake can be considered only for the next academic year 2019-20, that too, subject to conducting a detailed inspection and complying with all formalities, infrastructure and faculty, etc. prescribed for granting affiliation.

2.8. The petitioner has filed a reply affidavit to the statement filed by the 2nd respondent University, wherein it has been stated that the request for affiliation of additional intake of 60 seats in B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, for the academic year 2018-19, was not made along with the online application submitted on 07.03.2018. Regarding the inspection to be conducted by the University for assessing infrastructure, faculty, etc. and getting a report of 'no deficiency', the petitioner would contend that, no such guideline/procedure has been prescribed and published by the University in its website. As per Ext.P3 notification, the gateway for submission of online application was open till 08.03.2018, which was extended for a further period of two weeks. However, there was no provision for applying for affiliation of additional intake.

2.9. In the reply affidavit, the petitioner would contend that NOC from the State Government is not required for getting affiliation from the University, as held in the decisions of the Apex Court and also this Court. The Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 issued by the AICTE provides that the State Government/Union Territory Administration and the affiliating University may forward their views on the applications received in the Regional Office of the AICTE in terms of Clause 1.4.7. There is no delay on the part of the petitioner in approaching this Court for redressal of the grievances. As per the time schedule in paragraph 41 of the judgment of the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra), the last date for granting or refusing approval by the University/State Government is 15th May. In the case of the petitioner, the 2nd respondent University did not grant or refuse approval for the additional intake on or before 15.05.2018 and as such, there is clear deviation from the directions issued by the Apex Court in the said decision, which warrants appropriate action against the University.

2.10. Relying on the judgment of this Court in Irinjalakuda Diocesan Educational Trust v. All India Council for Technical Education and others (judgment dated 11.06.2015 in W.P. (C)No.13969 of 2015) the petitioner would contend that the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra), would not bar this Court in exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The judgment in Irinjalakuda Diocesan's case was affirmed by the Division Bench in W.A.No.1361 of 2015. The petitioner would also point out that the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the 2nd respondent University was an academic expert in the Scrutiny Committee constituted by the AICTE for scrutinising the application for increase of intake in the petitioner's College.

3. W.P.(C)No.17295 of 2018:-The petitioner in this writ petition is the Principal of Amal Jyothi College of Engineering, Kanjirappally which is a Self-Financing Engineering College, affiliated to the 1st respondent A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technological University. The petitioner has filed this writ petition, seeking a writ of mandamus commanding the 1st respondent University to grant affiliation for two additional programmes in Engineering and Technology, i.e., U.G. course in Food Engineering and Technology with an intake of 60 seats and P.G. course in Environmental Engineering with an intake of 18 seats, based on Ext.P3 extension of approval granted by the AICT dated 22.05.2018, for the academic year 2018-19. The petitioner has also sought for a declaration that the 1st respondent University is obliged under law to grant affiliation when permission is given by the Central authority, without facilitating the frustration of the said approval by delaying action.

3.1. Going by the averments in the writ petition, Amal Jyothi College of Engineering was established in the year 2001 with the approval of the additional 4th respondent AICTE. The number of branches were increased in a phased manner and as of now, the College offers eight P.G. and nine U.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology and also three P.G. programmes in Computer Application, which is evident from Ext.P3 extension of approval granted by the AICTE dated 22.05.2018. Ext.P1 certificate of accreditation issued by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council would show that the College is accredited with CGPA of 3.02 on 4 point scale at A grade. Ext.P2 would show that the U.G. courses offered in the petitioner's College in Electronics and Communication Engineering and also in Electrical and Electronics Engineering have been provisionally accredited by the National Board of Accreditation, for the academic years 2017-18 to 2019-20.

3.2. In order to start new programmes in Engineering and Technology, i.e., U.G. course in Food Engineering and Technology and P.G. course in Environmental Engineering, the petitioner approached the AICTE. After considering the said request, letter of approval for those two courses were granted by the AICTE, while granting extension of approval for the existing programmes, vide Ext.P3. As per Ext.P3, approval has been granted for U.G. course in Food Engineering and Technology with an intake of 60 and P.G. course in Environmental Engineering with an intake of 18, for the academic year 2018-19.

3.3. The 1st respondent University issued Ext.P4 notification dated 21.02.2018 inviting application for affiliation of existing and new Technical Institutions, which conducts U.G. and P.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology, MBA, MCA and Architecture for the academic year 2018-19 (the said notification is on record as Ext.P3 in W.P.(C)No.16675 of 2018). The petitioner would contend that, in Ext.P4 notification, nothing is mentioned about affiliation of new courses and the said fact was intimated to the 1st respondent University vide Ext.P5 email dated 24.05.2018. Ext.P5 would show that, on 08.03.2018, the petitioner sent another email to the University seeking permission to add B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology (60 seats) and M.Tech in Environmental Engineering (18 seats), for which the College has already applied for in the AICTE Web Portal for the academic year 2018-19. Ext.R5(a) is another email sent on 31.01.2018, whereby the 1st respondent University was informed about the application made by the College for introducing two new courses in the academic year 2018-19.

3.4. As per the procedure prescribed by the AICTE in the Approval Process Handbook 2018-19, one set of the application submitted before the AICTE was given to the 1st respondent University, which was duly acknowledged by the Registrar of the University on 09.02.2018, vide Ext.P6 acknowledgment. On 15.05.2018, the University issued Ext.P7 order granting extension of provisional affiliation for eight P.G. and nine U.G. programmes in Engineering and Technology and also three P.G. programmes in Computer Application, for the academic year 2018-19. Now the grievance of the petitioner is that, though, on receipt of Ext.P3 AICTE order dated 22.05.2018, Ext.P8 request dated 24.05.2018 was made before the 1st respondent University seeking provisional affiliation for the new courses, i.e., B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology and M.Tech in Environmental Engineering, the Registrar of the University has informed that, the University is not in a position to take any further steps, since the 3rd respondent State has informed the University not to grant affiliation for new courses in Engineering and Technology. The 2nd respondent Commissioner of Entrance Examinations has issued Ext.P9 notification dated 15.05.2018 requiring the institutions offering professional degree courses to furnish the details of courses, the number of seats, etc. for the academic year 2018-19 in order to update the basic data. In the absence of provisional affiliation granted by the University, the petitioner is not in a position to include the annual intake of B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology, in the Centralised allotment process for the year 2018.

3.5. A statement has been filed on behalf of the 1st respondent University, wherein it has been stated that pursuant to Ext.P4 notification dated 21.02.2018, the College submitted online application on 13.03.2018 for extension of affiliation and while submitting such an application, the College has not obtained letter of approval by the AICTE for its new courses, i.e., B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology and M.Tech in Environmental Engineering. In such circumstances, the University issued Ext.P7 order granting extension of provisional affiliation for those courses which are in existence and approved by the AICTE as on 13.03.2018. Pursuant to Ext.P4 notification, the gateway for submission of online application was open till 08.03.2018, which period was extended for two weeks. Since Ext.P3 letter of approval by the AICTE is dated 22.05.2018, which is beyond the cut-off date prescribed by the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra), the University cannot grant affiliation for those two programmes and grant of affiliation for such programmes can be considered only for the next academic year 2019- 20, that too, subject to conducting a detailed inspection and complying with all formalities, infrastructure and faculty, etc. prescribed for granting affiliation. Further, the 3rd respondent State has taken a policy decision not to grant permission to open new engineering colleges/additional courses/additional intakes for the academic year 2018-19 in any self-financing institutions in the State. As per the procedure, NOC has to be obtained from the State Government as well as the University for starting new institution/ additional intake. In the statement it has also been pointed out that Ext.P8 email dated 24.05.2018, whereby the University was informed about the letter of approval granted by the AICTE in respect of the new courses, was beyond the cut-off date for submitting application for grant of affiliation, which cannot be considered as an application for affiliation, especially when such application should be in the prescribed format, which the University entertains through a web portal; and a hard copy of such application in Affidavit No.1 has to be submitted on a later date.

3.6. The petitioner has filed a reply affidavit to the statement filed on behalf of the 1st respondent University, reiterating the contentions raised in the writ petition. The petitioner would point out that, vide Ext.P5(a) email dated 31.01.2018, the University was apprised about the application submitted in the AICTE Web Portal for introducing two programmes in Engineering and Technology in the College during the academic year 2018-19. Thereafter, as borne out from Ext.P5, another email was sent on 08.03.2018, since the initial cut-off date for submission of online application as per Ext.P4 notification was on 08.03.2018. As regards the averments in the statement filed by the University as to the requirement of affiliation after conducting inspection, etc. it is averred in paragraph 4 of the reply affidavit that, the said right of the University is not questioned by the petitioner. However, that cannot be a ground for delaying grant of affiliation through a dishonest exercise by acting as the agent of the 3rd respondent State.

3.7. In the reply affidavit it is averred that, in connection with the application for approval, the petitioner was called before the Scrutiny Committee of the AICTE, which recommended the courses applied for. Thereafter, a three-member Expert Committee of the AICTE conducted inspection at the College on 17.03.2018. On the basis of the report of the Expert Committee, a personal hearing was conducted by the Standing Hearing Committee of the AICTE at New Delhi, on 30.03.2018, and it was thereafter that Ext.P3 extension of approval dated 22.05.2018 was granted by the AICTE. Based on the said averments, it is contended in the reply affidavit that Ext.P3 approval was given by the AICTE on finding 'zero deficiency' for starting the course. When approval is granted after site inspection, the 1st respondent University cannot claim a superior expertise nor can sit in appeal over the decision of the AICTE, as regards satisfaction of the requirements by the institution in conducting the course. The petitioner would also point out that, the question as to whether an application can be considered by the AICTE even beyond the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court, has been the subject matter of consideration of this Court in another writ petition, and it was held that the power of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in issuing directions is not curtailed when there is failure on the part of the authority. The said judgment of this Court has attained finality.

3.8. A statement has been filed on behalf of the additional 4th respondent AICTE, wherein it has been stated that, pursuant to the notification issued by the AICTE, the petitioner's Institute applied for (i) approval of additional two courses for the academic year 2018-19, i.e., U.G. course in Food Engineering and Technology and P.G. course in Environmental Engineering; (ii) approval for inducting foreign national students under PIO (Persons of Indian Origin)/FN (Foreign National) category; and (iii) extension of approval of the existing courses. Clause 2.16 and Appendix 17 of the Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 deals with the procedure for inducting Foreign Nationals, which warrants scrutiny of the institute for ascertaining the infrastructural and other related facilities. The Expert Visit Committee is constituted when application is made for new institution; for change of site; for conversion of women co-education and vice versa; for conversion from Degree to Diploma and vice versa; restoration of intake; break in extension of approval; and for introduction of PIO/FN/Gulf Quota Approval Status/OCI (Overseas Citizen of India). The Expert Visit Committee visited the petitioner's institute based on the application for introduction of PIO/FN/Gulf Quota Approval Status/OCI. The application for introduction of new courses are governed by Clause 2.6.5 of the Approval Process Handbook, 2018- 19. The said Clause stipulates only two important points, i.e., (a) the institute should place before the Scrutiny Committee the Accreditation Report of the National Board of Accreditation and 'zero deficiency' report.

3.9. The Scrutiny Committee met on 12.03.2018 at the southwest Regional Office of the AICTE at Thiruvananthapuram verified the documents and found that the petitioner's institute had qualified itself to start new course and accordingly, extension of approval for the existing courses and approval for introduction of new courses were granted on 10.04.2018. But, thereafter, there were some clarifications and corrections to be carried out in the approvals given. Necessary steps were taken and the corrected approval was again issued on 22.05.2018 in corrigendum. The Expert Visit Committee which visited the petitioner's institute on 17.03.2018 has nothing to do with the introduction of new courses and the said committee, at the time of visit, had not scrutinised the application for introduction of new course in the petitioner's institute.

4. W.P.(C)No.18478 of 2018:- The petitioner in this writ petition, i.e., Carmel College of Engineering and Technology, Punnapra, is a Self-Financing Engineering College affiliated to the 2nd respondent APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, offering four U.G. Programmes in Civil Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Electrical and Electronics Engineering; and Computer Engineering, with the approval of the 1st respondent AICTE. The petitioner has filed this writ petition seeking a writ of mandamus commanding the 2nd respondent University to permit it to make necessary application for grant of affiliation for the new course approved by the AICTE in Ext.P1 extension of approval dated 10.04.2018, i.e., U.G. Programme in Electronics and Communication Engineering, or else to treat Ext.P3 representation dated 25.05.2018 as an application under Section 63 of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015 and consider the same for affiliation for the new course approved as per Ext.P1. The petitioner has also sought for other consequential reliefs, including a writ of mandamus commanding the 2nd and 3rd respondents to include new course approved by the AICTE in Ext.P1 in the Centralised Allotment Process, 2018.

4.1. Going by the averments in the writ petition, the petitioner obtained approval of the AICTE for conducting the existing four U.G. Programmes in Engineering and Technology during the academic year 2017-18. For the academic year, 2018-19, the petitioner applied for extension of approval of the existing programmes and also approval for introducing a new U.G. Programme in Electronics and Communication Engineering. After processing the application, the AICTE vide Ext.P1 order dated 10.04.2018, granted extension of approval for the existing U.G. Programmes and also approval for introduction of a new U.G. Programme in Electronics and Communication Engineering for the academic year 2018-19.

4.2. Pursuant to the notification issued by the 2nd respondent University inviting applications for affiliation of existing and new Technical Institutions, the petitioner submitted online application. However, such applications were permitted only for extension of affiliation of the existing courses for the academic year 2018-19 and there was no provision for making applications for grant of affiliation for new courses. In furtherance of the application made for extension of provisional affiliation, the University issued Ext.P2 order dated 15.05.2018 granting extension of provisional affiliation for the existing courses. In the said order, nothing was mentioned about the new course approved by the AICTE. Hence the petitioner made Ext.P3 representation dated 25.05.2018 before the Vice Chancellor of the University seeking affiliation for the newly approved U.G. Programme in Electronics and Communication Engineering, with an annual intake of 60 seats. The University acknowledged the receipt of Ext.P3 application on 16.02.2018, vide Ext.P4 receipt. While so, the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations, Kerala called upon all professional colleges in the State to update their basic data regarding details of courses, number of seats, etc. on or before 31.05.2018 for the purpose of Centralised Allotment Process for admission to Professional Degree Courses, Kerala 2018. In the absence of provisional affiliation granted by the University, the petitioner is unable to update the details with regard to the newly approved course.

4.3. A statement has been filed on behalf of the 2nd respondent University, wherein it has been stated that the petitioner submitted an application for affiliation on 12.03.2018. While submitting such an application, the letter of approval granted by the AICTE for the new U.G. Programme in Electronics and Communication Engineering, was not there and as such, the University issued Ext.P7 order extending provisional affiliation of those courses which were in existence and approved by AICTE as on 12.03.2018. In the said statement, the University has raised similar contentions as in the statement filed in W.P.(C)Nos.16675 and 17295 of 2018. In the statement, it has also been stated that, the petitioner had approached this Court only on 05.06.2018, much after the cut-off date of 15.05.2018 for granting affiliation for the academic year 2018-19 in terms of the judgment of the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra).

5. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner in the respective writ petitions, the learned Government Pleader appearing for the respondent State, the learned Standing Counsel for the AICTE and also the learned Standing Counsel for APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

6. The learned counsel for the petitioner in the respective writ petitions would contend that once the AICTE grants approval for the additional course/intake, the University cannot delay or withhold affiliation. Once approval is granted by the AICTE, such grant attains supremacy vis-a-vis the State and the affiliating body. Moreover, the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra), would not bar this Court in exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in appropriate cases.

7. Per contra, the learned Standing Counsel for the University would contend that, in the absence an application for affiliation of the additional course/intake for the academic year 2018- 19, in the prescribed and within the time limit stipulated in the notifications issued by the University, the institutions are not entitled for grant of affiliation for such additional course/intake, based on the letter of approval granted by the AICTE. In view of the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra), the request made for grant affiliation for additional course/intake cannot be granted for the academic year 2018-19, which can only be considered for the next academic year 2019-20, subject to the University conducting an inspection and the institution complying with all formalities, infrastructure and faculty, etc. prescribed for granting affiliation.

8. The learned Standing Counsel for the AICTE would point out that, the approval granted by the AICTE for additional course/ intake in the respective institutions, as per the procedure prescribed under Clause 2.6.5. of the Approval Process Handbook 2018-19, is based on the report of the Scrutiny Committee after verifying the additional documents submitted as per Appendix 17 of that handbook. The learned Standing Counsel would also point out that the Expert Visit Committee is constituted only when application is made for new institution; for change of site; for conversion of women co-education and vice versa; for conversion from Degree to Diploma and vice versa; restoration of intake; break in extension of approval; and for introduction of PIO/FN/Gulf Quota Approval Status/OCI.

9. The All India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 (for brevity, 'the AICTE Act') was enacted by the Parliament, to provide for the establishment of the AICTE with a view to ensure proper planning and co-ordinated development of the Technical Education System throughout the Country, the promotion of qualitative improvement of such education in relation to planned quantitative growth and the regulation and proper maintenance of norms and standards in the Technical Education System and for matters connected therewith. Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Act defines the term 'technical education' and clause (h) defines the term 'technical institution'. Section 10 of the Act deals with the powers and functions of the AICTE. As per clauses (i) and (k) of sub-section (1) of Section 10 of the Act, the powers and functions of the AICTE includes, the power to lay down norms and standards for courses, curricula, physical and instructional facilities, staff pattern, staff qualifications, quality instructions, assessment and examinations; grant of approval for starting new Technical Institutions and for introduction of new courses or programmes in consultation with the agencies concerned. Section 11 of the Act deals with the power to conduct inspection and Section 23 deals with the power to make regulations.

10. In exercise of its powers conferred under sub-section (1) of Section 23, read with Section 10 and Section 11 of the AICTE Act, and in supersession of the All India Council for Technical Education (Grant of Approvals for the Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2012 the AICTE made the All India Council for Technical Education (Grant of Approvals for the Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2016 (for brevity, 'the AICTE Regulations, 2016', as amended by the All India Council for Technical Education (Grant of Approvals for the Technical Institutions) (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017.

11. Clause 4 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 deals with grant of approval for Technical Institutions. As per Clause 4.1, prior approval of the AICTE is required for setting up new Technical Institution offering Technical Programme in the field of Technical Education, Research and training; for change of site/location of the existing Institution; etc. As per Clause 4.2 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016, as amended by the AICTE (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017, the Technical Institutions shall seek prior approval of the AICTE for extension of approval to the existing institutions; increase in intake/additional courses; etc.

12. Clause 4.11 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 provides that the AICTE shall publish, from time to time, Approval Process Handbook detailing the documents to be attached to the application, the fee to be remitted, the norms and standards, requirements and the procedure by which the applications are processed for grant of approval of existing institutions/programmes. Clause 4.12 provides further that, the applications received under Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the Regulations shall be processed as per the procedures, norms and standards prescribed in the Approval Process Handbook, as notified by the AICTE from time to time, in addition to the existing Central, State and Local laws. In terms of Clause 4.11 of the Regulations, the AICTE has published Approval Process Handbook 2018-19.

13. As per Clause 4.16 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 an affidavit, in the format as given in the Approval Process Handbook, on a Non-Judicial Stamp Paper of Rs.100/- duly sworn before a First Class Magistrate or Notary or an Oath Commissioner, inter alia, stating that the information given in the application is true and that, if it is found at any time that any part of the information has been suppressed and/or misrepresented and/or the information given in the application is false, the AICTE will be free to take action including withdrawal of approval/not considering for grant of approval and/or any other legal action as it may deem fit, shall be submitted by the applicants. As per Clause 4.17, as amended by the AICTE (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017, all applicants shall apply online through a single application under the applicable categories under Clauses 4.1 and 4.2, as per the conditions mentioned in Approval Process Handbook. The portal permits the generation of deficiency report for applications under Clause 4.2. The applicants shall make necessary corrections online, till the final submission of the application on the portal. Clause 4.17 provides that, applicants have to submit documents, as applicable, to the concerned Regional Office of the AICTE, as specified in the Approval Process Handbook.

14. As per Clause 4.18 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 the State Government/Union Territory Administration and the affiliating University/Board shall forward their views on the applications received under Clause 4.1 as applicable, with valid reasons along with the perspective plan of the State, within a period of 21 days from the date of receipt of applications which shall be taken into account by the Regional Committee of the AICTE for further processing for grant of approval. If the application is not processed further, the processing fee after a deduction of Rs.50,000/- shall be refunded to the applicant. Clause 4.18 provides further that, if the views of the State Government/Union Territory Administration and the affiliating University/Board are not received within a prescribed time schedule as mentioned in the Approval Process Handbook, it shall be presumed that they do not have any objection and the AICTE shall proceed further for processing of applications. However, the AICTE shall consider the previous communications, if any, received from the State Government/Union Territory Administration, the affiliating University/ Board against any institutions.

15. As per the provisions under Clause 4.21 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016, as amended by the AICTE (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017, in the case of an application under Clause 4.2 for increase in intake/additional courses, the Scrutiny Committee shall process the proposals based on the information/documents provided by the applicant. Thereafter, the concerned Regional Office of the AICTE shall upload the report of the Scrutiny Committee, as provided under Clause 4.23 of the Regulations. The Approval Bureau of the AICTE shall also verify, as provided under Clause 4.24, that the processes and parameters prescribed under the Regulations and the Approval Process Handbook are followed by the Scrutiny Committee. Then, as provided under Clause 4.25 of the Regulations, the recommendations of the Regional Committee shall be placed before the Executive Committee of the AICTE to take decisions on grant of approval or otherwise to the Technical Institution.

16. As per Clause 4.26 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 the AICTE shall grant the desired approvals only after confirming that the applicant meets all the norms and standards prescribed in the Approval Process Handbook. Clause 4.26 provides further that, from the self-disclosure information of the institutions, the AICTE reserves the right to inspect and if it is found that information is false, then initiate penal action as per the Approval Process Handbook. Subclause (a) of Clause 4.29 provides that, the decision of the Executive Committee/Council shall be uploaded in the Web Portal in the form of a letter of approval or letter of rejection with the reasons for rejection for the applications submitted under Clause 4.1 of the Regulations and extension of approval or otherwise, for the applications submitted under Clause 4.2 of the Regulations. Sub-clause (a) provides further that, the validity of the letter of approval, if issued, shall be for two academic years from the date of issue of letter of approval, only for obtaining affiliation with the respective University/Board and fulfilling State Government/Union Territory requirements for admission in the current session. Even if the institution fails to admit the students in the current academic year due to non-affiliation by the University/Board or non-fulfillment of State Government/Union Territory requirements, the institution shall apply online on AICTE web-portal for extension of approval for the next academic session.

17. Clause 4.30 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 mandates that new institutions granted letter of approval and existing institutions granted approval for introduction of new courses, divisions, programmes, variation in intake capacity shall comply with appointment of teaching staff and Principal/Director, as the case may be, as per the policy of the AICTE. Institutions other than minority institutions shall appoint teaching staff/Principal/Director and other technical supporting staff and administrative staff strictly in accordance with the methods and procedures of the concerned affiliating University/Board, particularly in case of selection procedures and selection committees. The information about these appointments of staff in the prescribed format shall also be uploaded on the web-portal of the AICTE, as per the schedule prescribed in the Approval Process Handbook. Clause 4.32 mandates further that, in no eventuality, a Technical Institution without prior approval of the AICTE and the affiliating University/Board concerned, shall be allowed to participate in the counselling and admission process and to admit students. Affiliating University/Board shall not enroll students admitted in such Technical Institutions, which do not have the requisite prior approval of the AICTE.

18. Clause 2.6 of the AICTE Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 deals with increase in intake/additional courses. Clause 2.6.2 deals with requirements and eligibility. Sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.6.2 provides that, the institution shall have valid NBA accreditation for the existing courses as deemed necessary. As per sub-clause (c), the institution shall have 'zero deficiency' based on self-disclosure as per the deficiency report generated through the AICTE web-portal and as per sub-clause (d), no punitive action shall be pending against the institution or FIR filed by CBI or any other agency. As per the norms prescribed by NBA, a minimum of two batches shall pass out for a course to be eligible for accreditation, for an institution. Sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.6.4 provides that, institutions which are in existence for less than seven years or which are not eligible for applying for NBA accreditation shall be allowed to increase in intake/expansion without mandatory accreditation condition as per the Table to the said Clause, subject to 'zero deficiency' based on self-disclosure on the AICTE web-portal. Clause 2.6.5 deals with the procedure for introduction of course/division. As per Clause 2.6.5, the Scrutiny Committee shall verify the additional documents as per Appendix 17 of Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 submitted for increase in intake/additional courses, for extension of approval, and the report of the Scrutiny Committee shall be uploaded on the Web Portal by the Regional Officer of the AICTE and forwarded for further processing.

19. The provisions under the AICTE Regulations, 2016, as amended by the AICTE (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017, and that under the AICTE Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 would show that an application made under Clause 4.2 of the Regulations, for increase in intake/additional course is being processed by the Scrutiny Committee based on the information/documents provided by the applicant. The Regional Office of the AICTE shall upload the report of the Scrutiny Committee and thereafter, the recommendation of the Regional Committee shall be placed before the Executive Committee of the AICTE to take decisions on grant of approval or otherwise to the Technical Institution. As per Clause 2.6.5 of the Approval Process Handbook, the Scrutiny Committee shall verify the additional documents submitted for increase in intake/additional courses, as per Appendix 17, and the report of the Scrutiny Committee shall be uploaded on the web-portal by Regional Officer of the AICTE and forwarded for further processing. As pointed out by the learned Standing Counsel for the AICTE, the Expert Visit Committee is constituted only when application is made for new institution; for change of site; for conversion of women co-education and vice versa; etc.

20. A Technical Institution which is granted approval by the AICTE for introduction of new courses or variation in intake capacity has to comply with appointment of teaching staff and Principal/Director, as the case may be, as per the policy of the AICTE, as mandated under Clause 4.30 of the AICTE Regulations. As per the said Clause, institutions other than minority institutions shall appoint teaching staff/Principal/Director and other technical supporting staff and administrative staff strictly in accordance with the methods and procedures of the concerned affiliating University/Board, particularly in case of selection procedures and selection committees, and the information about these appointments shall also be uploaded on the web-portal of the AICTE. Moreover, Clause 4.32 of the Regulations mandates that, in no eventuality, a Technical Institution without prior approval of the AICTE and the affiliating University/Board concerned, shall be allowed to participate in the counselling and admission process and to admit students.

21. In Chairman, Bhartia Education v. State of Himachal Pradesh [(2011) 4 SCC 527] the Apex Court, in the context of Section 14 of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 held that the purpose of 'recognition' and 'affiliation' are different. In the context of the NCTE Act, 'affiliation' enables and permits an institution to send its students to participate in the public examinations conducted by the examining body and secure the qualification in the nature of degrees, diplomas, certificates. On the other hand, 'recognition' is the licence to the institution to offer a course or training in teacher education. Recognition is a condition precedent for affiliation and that the examining body does not have any discretion to refuse affiliation with reference to any of the factors which have been considered by the NCTE while granting recognition. But this does not mean that the examining body cannot require compliance with its own requirements in regard to eligibility of candidates for admissions to courses or manner of admission of students or other areas falling within the sphere of the State Government and/or the examining body. Sub-section (6) of Section 14 cannot be interpreted in a manner so as to make the process of affiliation, an automatic rubber-stamping consequent upon recognition, without any kind of discretion in the examining body to examine whether the institution deserves affiliation or not, independent of the recognition. Paragraphs 19 to 24 of the said judgment read thus;

'19. The purpose of 'recognition' and 'affiliation' are different. In the context of the NCTE Act, 'affiliation' enables and permits an institution to send its students to participate in the public examinations conducted by the examining body and secure the qualification in the nature of degrees, diplomas, certificates. On the other hand, 'recognition' is the licence to the institution to offer a course or training in teacher education. Prior to the NCTE Act, in the absence of an apex body to plan and coordinate development of teacher education system, respective regulation and proper maintenance of the norms and standards in the teacher education system, including grant of 'recognition' were largely exercised by the State Government and Universities/ Boards. After the enactment of the NCTE Act, the functions of NCTE as 'recognising authority' and the examining bodies as 'affiliating authorities' became crystallised, though their functions overlap on several issues. The NCTE Act recognises the role of examining bodies in their sphere of activity.

20. Section 14 of the NCTE Act requires recognition of the institution by the NCTE, before the institute could offer any course or training in teacher education. Sub-section (4) of Section 14 provides that every order granting or refusing recognition to an Institution for a course or training in teacher education under sub-section (3) shall be published in the Official Gazette and communicated in writing for appropriate action to such institution and to the concerned examining body, the local authority or the State Government and the Central Government. Sub-section (6) of Section 14 requires every examining body on receipt of the order under sub-section (4), grant affiliation to the institution, where recognition has been granted; or cancel the affiliation of the institution, where recognition has been refused.

21. Section 16 of the NCTE Act provides that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no examining body shall grant affiliation whether provisional or otherwise, to any institution, or hold examination for a course or training conducted by a recognised institution, unless the institution concerned has obtained recognition from the Regional Committee of NCTE under Section 14 or permission for a course or training under Section 15 of the Act.

22. Sub-section (6) of Section 14 no doubt mandates every examining body to grant affiliation to the institution on receipt of the order of NCTE granting recognition to such institution. This only means that recognition is a condition precedent for affiliation and that the examining body does not have any discretion to refuse affiliation with reference to any of the factors which have been considered by the NCTE while granting recognition. For example, NCTE is required to satisfy itself about the adequate financial resources, accommodation, library, qualified staff, and laboratory required for proper functioning of an institution for a course or training in teacher education. Therefore, when recognition is granted by NCTE, it is implied that NCTE has satisfied itself on those aspects. Consequently, the examining body may not refuse affiliation on the ground that the institution does not have adequate financial resources, accommodation, library, qualified staff, or laboratory required for proper functioning of the institution. But this does not mean that the examining body cannot require compliance with its own requirements in regard to eligibility of candidates for admissions to courses or manner of admission of students or other areas falling within the sphere of the State government and/or the examining body. Even the order of recognition dated 17.07.2000 issued by NCTE specifically contemplates the need for the institution to comply with and fulfil the requirement of the affiliating body and state government, in addition to the conditions of NCTE.

23. We extract below conditions 4, 5 and 6 of the order of recognition issued by NCTE in this behalf:

'4. The admission to the approved course shall be given only to those candidates who are eligible as per the regulations governing the course and in the manner laid down by the affiliating University/State Government.

5. Tuition fee and other fees will be charged from the students as per the norms of the affiliating University/State Government till such time NCTE regulations in respect of fee structure come into force.

6. Curriculum transaction, including practical work/activities, should be organised as per the NCTE norms and standards for the course and the requirements of the affiliating University/ examining body.'

24. The examining body can therefore impose its own requirements in regard to eligibility of students for admission to a course in addition to those prescribed by NCTE. The State Government and the examining body may also regulate the manner of admissions. As a consequence, if there is any irregularity in admissions or violation of the eligibility criteria prescribed by the examining body or any irregularity with reference to any of the matters regulated and governed by the examining body, the examining body may cancel the affiliation irrespective of the fact that the institution continues to enjoy the recognition of the NCTE. Sub-section (6) of Section 14 cannot be interpreted in a manner so as to make the process of affiliation, an automatic rubber-stamping consequent upon recognition, without any kind of discretion in the examining body to examine whether the institution deserves affiliation or not, independent of the recognition. An institution requires the recognition of NCTE as well as affiliation with the examining body, before it can offer a course or training in teacher education or admit students to such course or training. Be that as it may.'

22. In Maa Vaishno Devi Mahila Mahavidyalaya v. State of U.P. [(2013) 2 SCC 617] the Apex Court held that, the opinion of NCTE is of utmost importance and shall take precedence over the views of the State as well as that of the affiliating University. What is most important is that all these authorities have to work ad idem as they all have a common object to achieve, i.e., of imparting of education properly and ensuring maintenance of proper standards of education, examination and infrastructure for betterment of educational system. Granting recognition is the basic requirement for grant of affiliation. It cannot be said that affiliation is insignificant or a mere formality on the part of the examining body. It is the requirement of law that affiliation should be granted by the affiliating body in accordance with the prescribed procedure and upon proper application of mind. Recognition and affiliation are expressions of distinct meaning and consequences. The examining body can impose conditions in relation to its own requirements. These aspects are eligibility of students for admission; conduct of examinations; the manner in which the prescribed courses should be completed; and to see that the conditions imposed by the NCTE are complied with. Despite the fact that recognition itself covers the larger precepts of affiliation, still the affiliating body is not to grant affiliation automatically, but must exercise its discretion fairly and transparently while ensuring that conditions of the law of the university and the functions of the affiliating body should be complementary to the recognition of NCTE and ought not to be in derogation thereto. Paragraphs 59, 70 and 71 of the said judgment read thus;

'59. The above enunciated principles clearly show that the Council is the authority constituted under the Central Act with the responsibility of maintaining education of standards and judging upon the infrastructure and facilities available for imparting such professional education. Its opinion is of utmost importance and shall take precedence over the views of the State as well as that of the University. The concerned Department of the State and the affiliating University have a role to play but it is limited in its application. They cannot lay down any guideline or policy which would be in conflict with the Central statute or the standards laid down by the Central body. State can frame its policy for admission to such professional courses but such policy again has to be in conformity with the directives issued by the Central body. In the present cases, there is not much conflict on this issue, but it needs to be clarified that while the State grants its approval, and University its affiliation, for increased intake of seats or commencement of a new course/college, its directions should not offend and be repugnant to what has been laid down in the conditions for approval granted by the Central authority or Council. What is most important is that all these authorities have to work ad idem as they all have a common object to achieve, i.e., of imparting of education properly and ensuring maintenance of proper standards of education, examination and infrastructure for betterment of educational system. Only if all these authorities work in a coordinated manner and with cooperation, will they be able to achieve the very object for which all these entities exist.

xxx xxx xxx xxx

70. Under Section 14 and particularly in terms of Section 14(3)(a) of the Act, the NCTE is required to grant or refuse recognition to an institute. It has been empowered to impose such conditions as it may consider fit and proper keeping in view the legislative intent and object in mind. In terms of Section 14(6) of the Act, the examining body shall grant affiliation to the institute where recognition has been granted. In other words, granting recognition is the basic requirement for grant of affiliation. It cannot be said that affiliation is insignificant or a mere formality on the part of the examining body. It is the requirement of law that affiliation should be granted by the affiliating body in accordance with the prescribed procedure and upon proper application of mind. Recognition and affiliation are expressions of distinct meaning and consequences. In the case of Chairman, Bhartia Education Society v. State of Himachal Pradesh [(2011) 4 SCC 527], this Court held that; (SCC p.534, para.19)

'19. The purpose of recognition and affiliation is different. In the context of the Act, affiliation enables and permits an institution to send its students to participate in public examinations conducted by the examining body and secure the qualification in the nature of degrees, diploma and certificates. On the other hand, recognition is the licence to the institution to offer a course or training in teaching education.'

The Court also emphasised that the affiliating body/examining body does not have any discretion to refuse affiliation with reference to any of the factors which have been considered by the NCTE while granting recognition.

71. The examining body can impose conditions in relation to its own requirements. These aspects are;

(a) eligibility of students for admission;

(b) conduct of examinations;

(c) the manner in which the prescribed courses should be completed; and

(d) to see that the conditions imposed by the NCTE are complied with.

Despite the fact that recognition itself covers the larger precepts of affiliation, still the affiliating body is not to grant affiliation automatically but must exercise its discretion fairly and transparently while ensuring that conditions of the law of the university and the functions of the affiliating body should be complementary to the recognition of NCTE and ought not to be in derogation thereto.'

23. The provisions under Regulation 7 of the National Council for Teacher Education (Recognition Norms and Procedure) Regulations, 2014, which deals with processing of applications, would show that after consideration of the recommendation of the State Government or on its own merits, the Regional Committee of the NCTE shall decide that institution shall be inspected by a team of experts called visiting team, with a view to assess the level of preparedness of the institution to commence the course. The institution shall be required to provide details about the infrastructure and other preparedness on the specified proforma available on the website of the NCTE to the visiting team at the time of inspection, along with building completion certificate issued by the competent civil authority, if not submitted earlier. At the time of visit of the team of experts to an institution, the institution concerned shall arrange for the inspection to be videographed in a manner that all important infrastructural and instructional facilities are videographed along with interaction with the management and the faculty, if available at the time of such visit. The application and the report along with the video recordings or CDs of the visiting team shall be placed before the Regional Committee for consideration and appropriate decision and the Regional Committee shall decide grant of recognition or permission to an institution only after satisfying itself that the institution fulfils all the conditions prescribed by NCTE under the Act, Rules or Regulations, including, the norms and standards laid down for the relevant teacher education programme.

24. In State of Rajasthan v. LBS B.Ed. College [(2016) 16 SCC 110], after referring to the provisions under Regulation 7 of the NCTE Regulations, 2014, the Apex Court reiterated the principle laid down in Maa Vaishno Devi Mahila Mahavidyalaya v. State of Uttar Pradesh [(2013) 2 SCC 617] that, once NCTE grants recognition, then such grant attains supremacy vis-a-vis the State Government as well as the affiliating body.

25. In the instant case, as already noticed, the application made by the petitioner in the respective writ petitions, under Clause 4.2 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 for increase in intake/additional course were processed by the Scrutiny Committee based on the information/documents provided by them and not based on any inspection conducted by the Expert Visit Committee constituted by the AICTE. As per Clause 30 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 the grant of approval by the AICTE for introduction of new courses or variation in intake capacity is subject to the condition that the institution shall appoint teaching staff and Principal/Director, as the case may be, as per the policy of the AICTE. In such circumstances, it cannot be said that grant of affiliation for increase in intake/additional course, based on the approval granted by the AICTE, is insignificant or a mere formality on the part of the affiliating University. Despite the fact that approval granted by the AICTE covers the larger precepts of affiliation, still the affiliating University is not expected to grant affiliation automatically. The University can impose conditions in relation to its own requirements, without offending the provisions of the AICTE Act, the Regulations made thereunder, and also the conditions of the approval granted by the AICTE. Such affiliation can be granted only after ensuring compliance of the conditions imposed by the AICTE while granting approval for increase in intake/additional course to the respective institutions.

26. In Parsvanath Charitable Trust (supra) the Apex Court has reiterated the law laid down in Jaya Gokul Educational Trust v. Commissioner & Secretary to Government Higher Education Department [(2000) 5 SCC 231] that, the AICTE is the authority constituted under the Central Act with the responsibility of maintaining operational standards and judging the infrastructure and facilities available for imparting professional education. It shall take precedence over the opinion of the State as well as that of the University. The concerned department of the State and the affiliating university have a role to play, but it is limited in its application. They cannot lay down any guidelines or policies in conflict with the Central statute or the standards laid down by the Central body. The State can frame its policies, but such policy again has to be in conformity with the direction issued by the Central body.

27. In view of the law laid down in the decisions referred to supra, the request for affiliation made by a Technical Institution for additional course/increase in intake on the strength of the approval granted by the AICTE cannot be withheld by the affiliating University on the ground that the State has taken a policy decision not to grant permission to open new engineering colleges or additional courses or additional intake for the academic year 2018-19 in any self-financing institutions in the State. Once the AICTE grants approval, then such approval attains supremacy vis-a-vis the policy of the State Government as well as the affiliating University. Therefore, the stand taken by the respondent University that, any request for affiliation for increase in intake/additional course based on the approval granted by the AICTE cannot be considered for the current academic year on account of the policy decision taken by the respondent State cannot be sustained.

28. As per the notification dated 21.02.2018 (produced as Ext.P3 in W.P.(C)No.16675 of 2018 and as Ext.P4 in W.P.(C)No.17295 of 2018) the respondent University invited applications for affiliation of existing and new Technical Institutions for the academic year 2018- 19. As per the said notification, the gateway for submission of online application was open till 08.03.2018, which period was later extended for a further period of two weeks. The pleadings and materials on record would indicate that, in none of these writ petitions online application in the prescribed format was submitted seeking affiliation for increase in intake/additional course, either within the time limit fixed in the said notification or within the extended period of two weeks. When grant of affiliation for increase in intake/additional course based on the approval granted by the AICTE is not a mere formality on the part of the respondent University, the petitioner in the respective writ petitions, who failed to submit online application seeking affiliation for increase in intake/additional course, in the prescribed format, within the time limit prescribed by the University cannot seek affiliation for the current academic year.

29. In Parsvanath's case (supra) it was held that all the authorities, including Universities, should adhere to the cut-off date fixed by the Apex Court and there shall be no deviation of the said cut-off date. As per the said decision, the cut-off date for granting affiliation by the respondent University, for the academic year 2018- 19, was 15.05.2018. The present writ petitions have been filed on 22.05.2018, 28.05.2018 and 05.06.2018 respectively, i.e., after the cut-off date for the current academic year, for granting affiliation by the respondent University. In Irinjalakuda Diocesan Educational Institution v. All India Council for Technical Education and others (Judgment dated 11.06.2015 in W.P.(C)No.13969 of 2015) and Fr. Thomas Melvetteth v. All India Council for Technical Education and others (Judgment dated 15.07.2016 in W.P. (C)No.21351 of 2016 and connected case) this Court held that the cut-off dated fixed as per the judgment of the Apex Court in Parsvanath's case (supra) does not preclude this Court issuing directions in exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The law laid down in the said judgments do not support the case of the petitioners in these writ petitions, who failed to submit online application seeking affiliation for increase in intake/ additional course, in the prescribed format, within the time limit prescribed by the University.

30. Clause 4.32 of the AICTE Regulations, 2016 mandates that, in no eventuality, a Technical Institution without prior approval of the AICTE and the affiliating University/Board concerned, shall be allowed to participate in the counselling and admission process and to admit students. Therefore, in the absence of affiliation granted by the respondent University for increase in intake/additional course, the petitioners are not legally entitled to include the said intake/additional course in the Centralised Allotment Process for admission to Professional Degree Courses, Kerala 2018 conducted by the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations, Kerala.

In the result, the writ petitions fail and they are accordingly dismissed. No order as to costs.
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