State public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his Mumbai Educational Trust have landed in yet another controversy. The Bombay high court has issued notices to Bhujbal, his family members and a few others over allegations that MET, which runs the Bhujbal Knowledge City (BKC) in Nashik, recovered excess fees from students.
According to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist and freedom fighter Balasaheb Jhambulkar, Bhujbal and MET misled the Shikshan Shulk Samiti, a government committee that sets fees for private professional institutes. The PIL alleges that records prepared to set the fee structure were false, allowing the institute to exploit students into paying excess fees. The amount thus collected runs into crores for the two academic years since 2010, the PIL states.
The petition claims that at various points, the trust has shown non-existing expenses in their statement of accounts. It has cited instances such as garden maintenance expenditure, which cannot be taken into consideration for the purpose of determining the fee. Moreover, funds amounting to Rs25.7 lakh and Rs50.9 lakh towards 'Technology Development Fund' and 'Student Activity Fund' respectively have not been expended as told by the trust to the Samiti.
The petitioner has asked the court to quash the fees fixed for the four institutions-MET Institute of Engineering, MET Institute of Polytechnic, MET Institute of Management and MET Institute of Pharmacy-and return the excess money back to students. The PIL also asks the court to direct the Samiti to fix the correct fees, which ought to have been charged on the basis of the figures revealed in the petition. It also wants an "accountable person" to be appointed to run the affairs of the trust.
Jhambulkar has also sought for prosecution of the trustees and seizure of all relevant documents and data from BKC.
Bhujbal, with his wife Meena, son Pankaj, nephew Sameer, co-founder of MET Sunil Karve, the fee committee and the Mumbai Charity Commissioner have been named parties to the petition.