Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has taken exception to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for expressing helplessness in ensuring refund of fees to students seeking them in Karnataka.
Gandhi, while hearing an appeal of Right to Information applicant Aneesh Bansal, who had deposited Rs 50,000 with Comed K, a consortium of various dental, medical and engineering colleges in Karnataka, said the council should ensure that its "writ runs in colleges which it gives affiliation to".
Bansal's son had in 2007 deposited the amount as fees for admission in Ramaiha Institute of Technology-Bangalore with Comed K, the agency that conducted the entrance test and counseling of students for admissions in over 40 professional colleges in the state.
But when Bansal asked for a refund of fees as his son took admission in another institute, Comed K refused to refund the fees. According to the AICTE rules, the institutes are required to refund the entire fees after deducting service charges if students vacate their seats. But the guidelines don't cover organisations such as Comed K.
Bansal had then complained to the grievance cell of the AICTE, which sought a reply from the institute. The institute said the fees were with Comed K and it could not refund them on the consortium's behalf.
Bansal filed an RTI application asking the AICTE what action had been taken against his complaint. The AICTE forwarded the institute's letter expressing its helplessness in getting the fees refunded.
Gandhi found the situation strange, as the AICTE was still seeking a legal opinion on how to redress Bansal's grievance eight months after he had lodged a complaint with topmost technical education regulatory body in India.
He said: "The appellant is being told that the information on refund of his fees cannot be provided since the front of Comed K is beyond the pale of all regulation. The AICTE should ensure its regulations are fully applicable."
Commenting on the technical education scenario, Gandhi, in his order on Monday, said engineering colleges affiliated to the AICTE appear to have found an indigenous method of flouting the rules and regulations of the council.
Even though the AICTE said the fees should be refunded, Comed K’s refusal to do so is an indication of the AICTE's helplessness, Gandhi said in the order.