w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Narayanaguru International Institute of Science & Technology (Trust) v/s All India Council for Technical Education & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- S C I INDIA LIMITED [Active] CIN = U24110BR1984PLC001994

Company & Directors' Information:- M G INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U80301DL2002PTC118047

Company & Directors' Information:- INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01134TG1999PTC031710

Company & Directors' Information:- INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74900DL1998PTC094324

Company & Directors' Information:- THE INDIA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74999TN1919PTC000911

Company & Directors' Information:- INDIA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U65990MH1941PTC003461

Company & Directors' Information:- J J TECHNICAL INSTITUTE PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U80221MH1988PTC046265

Company & Directors' Information:- M. S. INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION PVT. LTD. [Active] CIN = U80301DL2006PTC152100

Company & Directors' Information:- SCIENCE EDUCATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U80904MH2012PTC228771

Company & Directors' Information:- P R EDUCATION INSTITUTE PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U80903DL2004PTC129195

Company & Directors' Information:- V C EDUCATION INSTITUTE PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U80903DL2004PTC129201

Company & Directors' Information:- R V EDUCATION INSTITUTE PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U80903DL2004PTC129311

Company & Directors' Information:- TECHNICAL INSTITUTE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U80221KA1917PLC000075

    W.P.(MD) No. 10287 of 2014 & M.P. (MD) Nos. 1 to 4 of 2014

    Decided On, 06 August 2014

    At, Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K.K. SASIDHARAN

    For the Petitioner: Isaac Mohanlal, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, Mahadevan, M/s. AL. Gandhimathi, Standing Counsel for AICTE, R3, R4 & R6, M. Murugan, Government Advocate, R5, K. Govindarajan, Advocate.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, to call for the records relating to the impugned order issued by the first respondent AICTE vide File No.Southern/1-750920053/SWS/UC/AB (Part File), dated 16.06.2014 (not extending the approval for the petitioner's college which has been functioning with approval since 2002), quash the same and further, direct the first and second respondents herein to extend forthwith the approval for the petitioner's college.)

1. This Writ Petition is directed against the order dated 16 June, 2014, on the file of All India Council for Technical Education (hereinafter referred to as "the AICTE"), whereby and whereunder, extension of approval was not granted for the academic year 2014-2015.

BACKGROUND FACTS:

2. The petitioner is stated to be a Public Charitable Trust formed for the purpose of providing modern educational avenues to the Malayalam Linguistic Minority in the district of Kanyakumari. The petitioner established an Engineering College under the name and style of 'Narayanaguru College of Engineering' at Manjalumoodu, Vilavancode Taluk, Kanyakumari District, in the year 2002. The AICTE granted approval to the College. The College was affiliated to Anna University. The College started functioning with effect from the academic year 2002-2003.

3. The petitioner submitted an application for extension of approval for the academic year 2014-2015 through on-line on 15.05.2014.

4. The Expert Visit Committee of AICTE inspected the College on 21.11.2012. The AICTE, thereafter, issued a show cause notice to the College dated 16.01.2013, pointing out certain deficiencies. The College was directed to submit its reply within ten days. The petitioner submitted its reply dated 28.01.2013, wherein it was stated that there were no such deficiencies. The petitioner, pursuant to the direction of AICTE, appeared before the Standing Complaints Committee, on 09.05.2013 and submitted all the relevant documents. Thereafter, the petitioner was directed to appear before the Standing Appellate Committee on 09.10.2013. Subsequently, pursuant to the recommendation made by the Standing Appellate Committee, the Expert Committee visited the College on 20.05.2014. The first respondent, thereafter, issued a letter dated 06.06.2014, pointing out certain deficiencies and directed the petitioner to appear before the Standing Appellate Committee on 08.06.2014. The petitioner appeared before the Committee and submitted its reply.

5. Thereafter, on 13.06.2014, the second respondent contacted the petitioner over phone and called upon the Management to appear before the Standing Appellate Committee on 14.06.2014. Even though the petitioner was not aware of the reason for such appearance, still the representative appeared before the Standing Appellate Committee and submitted its version. Thereafter, without issuing any notice or personal hearing to the petitioner, the AICTE passed the impugned order, declining to grant extension of approval for the academic year 2014-2015. The said order is challenged in this Writ Petition.

6. It is the case of the petitioner that for rejecting the request for extension of approval for the academic year 2014-2015, the AICTE has shown two reasons. The first ground is that the land is situated in six locations. The second ground relates to the failure to obtain approval from the Director of Town and Country Planning in respect of the building in question. According to the petitioner, the College has been functioning from the academic year 2002-2003 in the very same location. The building was constructed prior to the amendment made to the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971. Therefore, it was not obligatory on the part of the petitioner to obtain building permission from the Director of Town and Country Planning. The petitioner has taken up a further contention that the impugned order was passed without giving them an opportunity of personal hearing.

7. The second respondent filed a counter-affidavit in answer to the contentions raised in the affidavit filed in support of the Writ Petition. According to the second respondent, a surprise inspection was conducted on 21.11.2012. It was found that the College was conducting various courses, which were not approved by the AICTE. This resulted in issuing a show cause notice on 16.01.2013. The College submitted its reply on 28.01.2013. The College was directed to appear before the Standing Complaints Committee on 09.05.2013. The Committee originally decided to withdraw the approval. The issue was, thereafter, placed before the Standing Appellate Committee for a review. The Committee recommended that the AICTE should issue notice to the institution pointing out the deficiencies. This resulted in issuing a show cause notice on 19.08.2013. The petitioner submitted its reply on 28.08.2013. The petitioner appeared before the Standing Appellate Committee, pursuant to the notice. The Expert Visit Committee, once again, conducted inspection on 06.06.2014. In view of the report submitted by the Committee, the petitioner was directed to appear before the Standing Appellate Committee. The petitioner appeared before the Standing Appellate Committee. Thereafter, the impugned order was passed. According to the second respondent, sufficient opportunity was given to the petitioner to rectify the defects. The petitioner failed to take any follow-up action, resulting in passing the impugned order. The second respondent further contended that the impugned order was passed by observing the principles of natural justice.

SUBMISSIONS:

8. The learned counsel for the petitioner made the following substantial submissions:

(i) The impugned order was passed in violation of Regulation 12 of the All India Council For Technical Education (Grant of Approvals For Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2010 [hereinafter referred to as "the AICTE Regulations"].

(ii) The College was established long back and it started functioning from the academic year 2002-2003. The AICTE granted approval all these years, in spite of the fact that the land is situated in six locations. According to the learned counsel, the land is contiguous in nature. Even though it is separated by a road, the fact remains that the plots are interlinked. Therefore, the AICTE was not correct in projecting the alleged situation of land as a deficiency.

(iii) The building in question was constructed before the amendment made to the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 and insertion of Section 47-A, on 29.12.2010. Since it was an existing building, the same does not require prior permission under Section 47-A of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971. The AICTE was, therefore, not correct in maintaining that the petitioner failed to obtain approval from the Director of Town and Country Planning.

9. The learned Standing Counsel for the AICTE made the following submissions:

(i) The lands are not contiguous in nature. Since the lands are not situated in a block, AICTE was correct in pointing out the said eficiency.

(ii) The building in question would come within the meaning of Multi-Storeyed and Public Buildings, which requires prior permission underRule 25 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Building Rules, 1997. The petitioner failed to prove that the building was approved by the competent authority. Therefore, the AICTE was fully correct in pointing out the said deficiency.

(iii) The petitioner was given three show cause notices to rectify the deficiencies. It was only after giving reasonable opportunity, the impugned order was passed.

THE DECISIONS CITED BY THE PETITIONER:

10 (i) The learned counsel for the petitioner, by placing reliance on the order dated 01.07.2014 in W.P.No.14541 of 2014, submitted that this Court has already held that personal hearing should be given before passing an adverse order under Regulation 12 of the All India Council For Technical Education (Grant of Approvals For Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2010.

(ii) The learned counsel, by placing reliance on a recent judgment of a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in Mahatma Education Society's Pillai's Institute of Information Technology, Engineering, Media Studies & Research vs. AICTE (Order dated 14.07.2014 in W.P.No.6021 of 2014), submitted that under identical circumstances, taking into account the fact that the College has been functioning for a long period, the Division Bench granted an interim order permitting the institution to admit students.

DISCUSSION:

11. The petitioner is stated to be a Linguistic Minority Institution. The petitioner obtained AICTE approval for establishing an Engineering College in the district of Kanyakumari. The College commenced its activities with effect from the academic year 2002-2003. The College appears to have constructed several buildings including hostel block. The AICTE granted extension of approval upto 2013-2014.

12. While so, pursuant to the direction given by the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, on a complaint that some of the Engineering Colleges are offering unapproved courses, the AICTE inspected various Educational Institutions across the India. The Expert Visit Committee inspected Narayanaguru International Institute of Science and Technology, the petitioner herein on 21.11.2012. The Inspecting Team found that the College was conducting M.Sc.(Software Engineering), M.Sc.(Computer Technology) and M.Sc.(Electronic Media), which were not approved by the AICTE. This resulted in issuing a show cause notice to the petitioner dated 16.01.2013. The AICTE called upon the petitioner to show cause as to why action should not be taken for giving manipulated/false information and for violation of the terms and conditions of the letter of approval. The petitioner appears to have submitted a reply dated 28.01.2013 denying allegations. The petitioner, thereafter, appeared before the Standing Complaints Committee, on 09.05.2013. The Committee recommended withdrawal of approval. However, a decision was later taken to conduct a review. The Standing Appellate Committee, at its review meeting held on 01.08.2013, recommended that the AICTE should proceed against the Institution by issuing two notices, viz., one with regard to the unapproved course and the other with regard to the other deficiencies. The petitioner, pursuant to the show cause notice dated 19.08.2013, submitted a reply on 28.08.2013. The petitioner appeared before the Standing Appellate Committee on 09.10.2013. The Standing Appellate Committee wanted the petitioner to give an undertaking with regard to the unapproved courses. The Standing Appellate Committee directed the Expert Visit Committee to inspect the Institution once again. The Expert Visit Committee inspected the institution on 06.06.2014 and submitted a report to the AICTE. The report was placed before the Standing Appellate Committee at its meeting held on 08.06.2014. The counter-affidavit filed by the second respondent indicates that the petitioner appeared before the Standing Appellate Committee on 08.06.2014. The Standing Appellate Committee recommended to give one more opportunity to the petitioner, by way of review on 14.06.2014. Though the notice was short, still the petitioner appeared before the Committee on 14.06.2014 and pursuant to its recommendation, the AICTE passed the impugned order.

13. The petitioner has taken up two substantial contentions in the Writ Petition. The first contention relates to the approval granted by the AICTE right from the academic year 2002-2003, after inspecting the building in question constructed on a land, which is contiguous in nature. The second contention relates to the construction of building before the introduction of Section 47-A of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971. The impugned order does not contain any indication that the submissions made by the petitioner in its explanation with regard to the two contentions, were taken note of either by the Standing Appellate Committee or by the AICTE. The petitioner has taken up a substantial contention that it was only after inspecting the site in question, which is situated in six locations and divided by a road, that the AICTE granted approval originally during the year 2002-2003 and extension of approvals thereafter continuously, till the academic year 2013-2014. Similarly, neither the Standing Appellate Committee nor the AICTE appears to have considered the explanation submitted by the petitioner that it is not necessary to obtain approval from the Director of Town and Country Planning, in view of the completion of construction before the introduction of Section 47-A of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971.

14. The petitioner has not produced the approval granted by the local body in support of its contention that it was only after obtaining the statutory approval from the local body, that the buildings were all constructed. Admittedly, the land is situated within the jurisdiction of a Panchayat. The building constructed by the petitioner would come within the meaning of a 'public building' defined under Rule 2(g) of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Building Rules, 1997. Rule 25 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Building Rules, 1997 very clearly provides that every person intending to construct any public building, shall follow the provisions of the Multi- Storeyed and Public Building Rules, 1973 issued under the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920. The proviso to the said Rule clearly provides that the Executive Authority shall not grant approval for construction of any such building without consulting the concerned Joint Director or Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning. The petitioner is expected to prove that the construction in question was made after obtaining the approval from the competent authority and by following Rule 25 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Building Rules, 1997. It is not possible to verify the planning permission obtained by the petitioner for constructing a public building in the property in question on account of non production of the said document. The petitioner has built up a case under the premise that only after perusing all these documents including the statutory approval given by the local body, that approval was granted by the AICTE during the academic year 2002-2003. However, in the absence of the document before this Court, it is not proper to make comments.

15. The petitioner has taken up a substantial contention that opportunity of personal hearing was not given by the AICTE, before passing the impugned order. The petitioner has placed strong reliance on Regulation 12 of the AICTE Regulations. Regulation 12 very clearly provides that if any technical institution contravenes any of the provisions of the Regulations, it is open to the Council to take a decision to withdraw the approval, after giving technical institution concerned, an opportunity of hearing. Even though the counter-affidavit filed by the AICTE proceeds as if opportunity of personal hearing was given by the AICTE, before passing the impugned order, the fact remains that no such reference was made in the order to that effect. The impugned order contained a reference that the Standing Appellate Committee recommended not to grant approval for the academic year 2014-2015. The petitioner has taken up a contention that the report of the Standing Appellate Committee was not given and as such, the Trust was not in a position to offer its remarks to the AICTE.

16. The factual matrix very clearly shows that the petitioner was not given an opportunity of personal hearing before passing the impugned order by the AICTE. The impugned order would involve civil consequences to the petitioner, inasmuch as the institution would not be able to make admission for the academic year 2014-2015. This institution has been functioning right from the academic year 2002-2003. It was the very same AICTE which granted the extension of approval all these years. Therefore, before withdrawing the approval and that too, on account of the recommendation given by the Standing Appellate Committee, the AICTE should have given a reasonable opportunity to the petition

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er. The report of the Standing Appellate Committee should have been furnished to the petitioner to offer its comments. In any case, the AICTE should have followed the provisions of the All India Council For Technical Education (Grant of Approvals For Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2010 and more particularly, Regulation 12, before passing the impugned order. 17. This Court has already considered the effect of non-compliance of Regulation 12 of the AICTE Regulations and by way of a detailed order in W.P.No.14541 of 2014, held that the failure to give opportunity of hearing would vitiate the order passed by the AICTE. Therefore, I am constrained to set aside the impugned order on the sole ground of violation of principles of natural justice. DISPOSITION: 18. In the result, the impugned order is set aside and the matter is remitted to the All India Council for Technical Education for fresh consideration. 19. The AICTE is directed to furnish copies of the recommendation made by the Standing Appellate Committee to the petitioner. The AICTE is directed to give reasonable opportunity to the petitioner to submit its case before taking a decision in the matter. In short, opportunity of personal hearing should be given to the petitioner within the meaning of Regulation 12 of the All India Council For Technical Education (Grant of Approvals For Technical Institutions) Regulations, 2010. Such exercise shall be completed, within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. 20. However, I make it clear that this order would not give a right to the petitioner to make admissions during the academic year 2014-2015. 21. In the upshot, I allow the Writ Petition. Consequently, the connected miscellaneous petitions are closed. No costs.
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