IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
SUBJECT: ADMISSION TO UNIVERSITY
Judgment reserved on: 19th January, 2005
Date of decision: March 10th, 2005
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.3039/2002
NEHA SHARMA ... Petitioner
Through Mr. Jitender Sharma, Sr. Advocate with Mr. K.V. Bharati
THE VICE CHANCELLOR & ORS ..... Respondents
Through Mr. G.D. Goel, Advocate with
Mr. Sanjiv Goel, Advocate for respondents no.1 and 2
Mr.Suryakant Singla,Advocate for respondent no.3
GITA MITTAL, J.
1. The present petition has challenged action taken by respondent no.1 in forfeiting 75% of the deposit made by her towards tuition fee at the time of her admission to a course being conducted by respondent no.3, which is affiliated to the respondent no.1. The facts giving arise to the present petition are within a narrow compass and are not disputed by the respondents.
2. The petitioner completed her Senior Secondary Examination from the Air Force Golden Jublee School (Delhi Board) and applied for admission to several universities including the University of Delhi and the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi. The petitioner has stated that in the first instance, she was offered admission by the Indraprastha College for Women affiliated to the Delhi University which she had joined. Thereafter she was called for counselling by the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi on 31.7.2000 and she had opted to join the Bachelor of Information Systems which is a three years course being conducted in the Institute of Information Technology and Management, arrayed as respondent no.3 in the present petition. The Petitioner was given an admission slip on the spot itself and was required to deposit total sum of Rs.57,500/- which amount was consequently paid vide receipt No.1/926 dated 31.7.2000/ According to the parties, the amount deposited was on account of tuition fess for the sum of Rs.50,000/-, security deposit of Rs.5000/- and examination fess of Rs.2,500/-.
3. Petitioner had also applied to Guru Jambeshwar University at Hissar in Haryana, where she was called upon for counselling. Accordingly, in order to enable the petitioner to participate in the counselling at Hissar on 4.8.2000, the petitioner made an application for return of her original documents. The documents were returned to the petitioner pursuant to her application.
4. In the counselling conducted at Hissar, the petitioner was granted admission to the Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science and Engineering) course. As the same was a better course than the course to which the petitioner had been admitted with respondent no.3, she opted to take admission at Hissar and as such duly deposited her fees in the said course and college on 23.8.2000.
5. The petitioner contends that the admission process of the respondents was not over even on the 31.8.2000. She was called upon to participate in a counselling for Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering course by respondent no.1 for seats at the Mahila Institute of Technology at Kashmiri Gate, Delhi. It is pointed out that unfortunately the petitioner could not get admission to this institute because the seats were filled up before her turn for the counselling came.
6. In these circumstances, as the petitioner preferred to pursue the Bachelor of Engineering course in Computer Science and Engineering at Hissar instead of Information Systems, she made an application to the respondent no.2 to refund the amount deposited by her on the 31.7.2000.
Despite several reminders to the respondents, and personal visits on behalf of the petitioner by her relatives, the full amount deposited has not been refunded to the petitioner.
7. It appears that 25.9.2000, the respondents no.1 and 2 intimated the petitioner that they were returning 75% of the amount deposited by the petitioner and the balance was not liable to be returned in terms of the applicable rules. Accordingly a cheque bearing No.926773 for a sum of Rs.7,500/- dated 25.9.2000 for such refund was enclosed with the communication dated 25.9.2000. The petitioner has reportedly protested to the respondents for withholding of the balance amount of the petitioner and has even caused a notice under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure to be served upon the respondents. But the same was of no consequence compelling the petitioner to seek redressal by way present writ petition. It is contended by the petitioner that she was entitled to full refund and that the respondents action in forfeiting her money was wholly illegal and untenable. Reliance has been placed on the judgment of the Apex Court reported as (2002) 10 SSC 487 entitled Ramdeo Baba Kamala Nehru Engineering College and Others vs. Sanjay Kumar and Others.
8. The respondents on the other hand have not disputed the aforestated facts but have based their entire arguments on the statements made in the Information Bulletin issued by respondent no1. for the year 2000-2001. It has been contended that the petitioner took admission to the paid category of candidates of her own free will and choice and paid the fees in terms of the said Information Bulletin. Copy of the Information Bulletin has been handed over in the Court. It has been pleaded before me that there was the rules contained in the Information Bulletin are binding on the petitioner. It is also contended that the writ petition which was filed almost one and a half years after the refund was made to the petitioner was misconceived and that no challenge to the stipulations in the Information Bulletin in the writ petition. An objection has also being raised to the maintainability of the writ petition on the ground that the writ petition raised disputed questions of facts. It is submitted that in any case the petitioner herself had caused to be served a notice under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure and hence the petitioner could have at best brought a suit for recovery of the amount. According to the respondents, no writ petition would lie for recovery of amount against the respondents. The respondents have also drawn the court's attention to the conduct of the petition who is stated to have been of wavering mind and as to the manner in which she has caused seats in different courses and
institutions to be wasted.
9. The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University has been established by the Govt. of Delhi under the provisions of the Delhi Legislative Act (9 of 1998) read with the amendment in 1999 as an affiliating and teaching university to facilitate and promote studies, research and extension work in emerging areas of higher education with focus on professional education in the disciplines of engineering, technology, management studies, medicines, pharmacy, nursing, education, law, etc. and also to achieve excellence in these and related fields and other matters. It is endeavouring to ensure excellence at all levels of professional education. It has been set out that the respondent no.1 intends to maintain high standards in all affiliated institutions also in terms of teaching, research, faculty, infrastructures and other related determinants of quality. The institutions are requires to conduct programmes strictly adhering to norms and standards set out by the university. A curriculum to be pursued by the institute affiliated by respondent no.1 has been set out by the university itself.
10. It appears that in order to achieve its objective to encourage participation of self financing institutions in the area of professional education, the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University/respondent no.1 had admitted various institutions to certain privileges and granted them affiliation for the conduct of professional programmes. The programmes being conducted are in conformity with projected manpower requirements in various relevant areas of specialization.
11. The number of seats available for admission to different disciplines are strictly controlled by the respondent no.1 university. Admission to all the courses of study offered by these self-financing institutions which are affiliated to the university are made centrally by the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. Fifty percent of the seats in these affiliated institutions are treated as free seats and the remaining fifty percent are payment seats. However, the allotment of seats is made on inter se merit determined on the basis of the common entrance test conducted by the respondent no. 1.
12. In order to effectuate to the preference of the meritorious candidates, and to ensure that admissions are made strictly in the order of merit, the candidates who clear the entrance exam are called for counselling. For such counselling the candidate is physically called and informed of the available choices of courses and institutes. The candidate thereupon make his considered choice and opts for an institute and course which seat is accordingly filled up.
13. It is inherent in the scheme of admissions that the seats available for allotment are limited. It also needs no further elaboration that admissions have to be effected in a time bound manner in order to meet academic deadlines and to ensure commencement of course on stipulated dates. Any deviation from either merit or effecting admissions after the commencement of the academic course has been deprecated by the Supreme Court of India whenever the matter have been raised before it in various courses.
14. So far as the admissions to the courses and institutions under respondent no.1 is concerned, the criterion for eligibility and all other conditions remains to be the merit rank attained in the common entrance exam. The same criteria is maintained for both free seats and payments seats, the distinction only being in the requirement of higher fees for payment seats.
15. So far as the schedule of admissions for the year 2000-2001 us concerned, which is the relevant academic year, the Information Bulletin published and circulated provided, inter alia, the following stipulations:-
Programme Total fees payable per annum (including tuition fee, instructional support, development fee, University examination & enrolment fee)
deposit * (including Library security deposit)
* One time payment at the time of admission (refundable)
# This amount is the University examination and enrollment fee for both semesters/annual examination.
Note: (i) The fee given above is payable at the time of counselling/admission by cash or demand draft in favour of Registrar, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University payable at Delhi. Cheque will not be accepted under any circumstances and admission will be made only when the entire fee is deposited (no part payment will be acceptable).
(ii) The above fee structure is provisional.Withdrawal of admission and refund of fee
(a) If a student applies for withdrawal of admission on or before 16 Aug.2000, the total fee after deduction of 20 per cent will be refundable.
(b) No refund of fee, except the security deposit, will be made on withdrawal of admission after 16 August 2000 under any circumstances.
16. Admissions have been admittedly made strictly in accordance with the method set out in the Information Bulletin. Perusal of the same also shows that no admissions were to have been effected after the 31.8.2000.
17. The petitioner was duly notified by the respondents that in the Information Bulletin itself that if fees are deposited by her and admission is taken to a course, no withdrawal thereof or refund of the entire fee would be permissible if the student seeks withdrawal of admission after the 16.8.2000. In case withdrawal of admission was sought after the 16.8.2000, no refund of fee was permissible and only the security deposited would be refunded after such date. There is no challenge to the said stipulation made in the Bulletin in the present writ petition.
18. The petitioner admittedly first took admission to the course in the Indraprastha College of the University of Delhi. Thereafter she took admission to a course of Bachelor of Information Systems with the respondent no.3 and duly deposited the fees in respect thereof. She thereby blocked one seat in the Indraprastha College and then another seat with respondent no.3 in the Bachelor of Information Systems course. The petitioner thereafter opted to go to Hissar and took admission there also in the Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering course and claims that she deposited fees there as well. Thus, the petitioner had simultaneously blocked at least two, if not three, seats in three different courses and institutions.
19. The petitioner has submitted that she had so also participated in the second counselling on 31.8.2000 as she was desirous of taking admission to the Bachelor of Engineering Course in Computer and Electrical Engineering at the Mahila Institute of Technology, Delhi. It is only because by the time her turn came and the seats in this course and institute were filled up, that the petitioner did not take admission in this course as well.
20. Apart from the stipulations contained in the Information Bulletin, it is noteworthy that the scheme of a Combined Entrance Exam and counselling thereafter has been envisaged in different professional courses to only enable to candidates to make an informed choice for admission and not to cause wastage of seats by shifting from one course to another. The practice of repeated counsellings has been struck down by the Courts which have enjoined upon the universities to restrict counselling and not to permit shifting of candidates from one course to another as the same results in wastage of seats.
For this reason, so far as the scheme of admission to medical courses in Delhi is concerned, it has been held that a candidate having participated in a counselling and having opted for a course and institute, having paid fees thereto and thereby having taken admission and having blocked a seat is precluded from participating in any counselling thereafter. It has been held that if a candidate does not wish to take the seats available for his struck his/her choice at the time of his/her counselling stage candidate must not take admission to any of the offered seats/courses and should opt to be wait listed. The second counselling should be held only for such wait listed candidates.
21. Thus, the conduct of the petitioner in fact results in negation of the very reason for setting up of the scheme of admission by a centralised examination test and counselling thereafter. By this conduct, the petitioner has caused seats to be wasted with the Indraprastha College as well as the seats in the Bachelor of Engineering and Information Systems of the respondent no.3.
22. On a query being made, the Court was informed that no candidate was admitted against such seats in as much as the petitioner has made the request for refund of her fee only on the 31.8.2000. It is only on such date that the respondent no.3 was informed on behalf of the petitioner that her admission to the course of Bachelor of Engineering and Information Systems be cancelled and fees refunded. As such the seat could not have been offered in the second counselling.
23. Learned counsel appearing for the respondent no. 1 has relied upon the judgment reported at 2002 (6) SCALE 332 entitled Medical Council of India vs Madhu Singh and (2003) 3 SCC 366 entitled Neelu Arora vs Union of India to contend that no admission can be made after the second round of counselling and no admission can be granted after the schedule dates.
24. It is necessary to remember that the Institutes are required to provide "free seats" on projections and calculations based on amounts which are recovered from the paid seats. It is evident that the stipulations of last dates for withdrawl of admissions forfeiture has been made on the basis that the Institution would not be able to effect further admission or to recover such amounts after the date and the paid seat would go waste. The Institution has to meet the expenses of the free seats. It cannot therefore possibly be contended that the stipulation of forfeiture in the Bulletin results in any injustice.
25. So far as the requirement of maintaining the schedule in professional course is concerned, the same had been considered with by the Supreme Court of India in the judgment reported as 2002 (6) SCALE page 332 (supra) wherein the Court has held hereunder:
"There is, however, a necessity for specifically providing the time schedule for the course and fixing the period during which admissions can take place, making it clear that no admission can be granted after the scheduled date, which essentially should be the date for commencement of the course."
In another matter reported as (2003)3 SCC 366 entitled Neelu Arora vs. Union of India. It has been held that no admission can be made after the second round of counselling.
I have also so held in a decision dated 17th February, 2005 rendered in W.P.(C) 16128/2004 entitled Miss Sunint Kaur vs Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University & Anr.
For this reason the seat vacated by the petitioner or after 31.8.2000 would be of no benefit to the candidates seeking admission. As submitted the same would not have been available for allocation in the second counselling and has gone waste.
26. It needs no elaboration that educational discipline must be maintained. The same would include financial discipline which has been notified to the students in the information bulletin published and made available to candidates at the time of their admission. There is no allegation that any amount in excess of the amount set out in the clause 4.2 has been deducted by the respondents. The amount has been refunded to the petitioner in terms of this clause of Information Bulletin has been received by her.
27. I am therefore, of the considered view that the petitioner is bound by the terms and conditions notified to her in the Information Bulletin. This Information Bulletin was available for sale from 17.4.2000. The petitioner accepted these terms and conditions and submitted her application form.
The petitioner applied for admission of her own violation took the common entrance exam hold on 3.6.2000 and the result was declared on 16.6.2000. The students were called for counselling as per merit declared by them from 18.7.2000. The petitioner appeared in the counselling and deposited the fees as prescribed.
.28. It is also important to note that the form contained the following declaration which was made by the petitioner also:-
" I hereby solemnly and sincerely affirm that the statement made and information furnished by me in this application form are true and correct. I have not kept any information secret. If it is found that any information furnished herein is fraudulant, incorrect or untrue in material particulars, I realise that I am liable to prosecution and that the admission to the course is liable to be cancelled. I agree to abide by the rules and regulations governing the examination and as contained in the Information Bulletin. I am also aware that my admission to take the entrance test is provisional and is subject to verification of my eligibility at the time of admission after qualifying the entrance test(s).
Date:___________ Signature of the Candidate
I have carefully read and verified the information furnished by my son/daughter/ward and affirm that it is true and correct.
Date: __________ Signature of the Father/Guardian"
The same was also counter signed by her parent/guardian.
The petitioner is bound by the undertaking given by her.
29. In the instant case, the Information Bulletin set out the extent and amount of deduction at the time of a refund. The cut off date has been provided in the Information Bulletin. There is no dispute that the action of the respondents is in accordance with the Information Bulletin. No legally sustainable ground of challenge to the respondents' action has been made in the facts set out. In view of the findings of the Supreme Court of India in the judgments relied upon, the respondents were entitled to effect the deduction made in
terms of the Information Bulletin in the instant case.
Having thus taken admission deposited the amount and admittedly having withdrawn admission after the stipulated cut off date of her own free will fully knowing the consequences thereof the petitioner cannot be heard to contend that the action of the respondents was illegal in any manner.
30. Perusal of the judgment cited on behalf of the petitioner being (2002) 10 SSC 487 entitled Ramdeo Baba Kamala Nehru Engineering College and Others vs. Sanjay Kumar and Others. (Supra) would show that the same is not applicable to the present case. The facts of the case which was before the Apex Court shows that the respondent in that case was granted admission after the process of admission was over. The respondent withdrew his admission around two months after he got admission elsewhere. However, the refund given by the petitioner to those students was found by the Court to be in violation of the Government order issued by the State Government whereby only a notional deduction of Rs.1,000/- was permissible while making the refund. The only plea taken as a defence by the Institutions was that it was a private education institution and hence was not amenable to writ jurisdiction by way of a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It was in these circumstances held by the Apex Court that the Institution was entitled to make a deduction only in terms of applicable government circular and for this reason alone, the Institution was directed refund of the balance amount deposited by the students to them. In the instant case, the deduction is admittedly in terms of the rule stipulated in the Information Bulletin.
For all the foregoing reasons, I find no merit in the present case.
The writ petition is accordingly dismissed.
There is no order as to costs.
Sd. (GITA MITTAL)
March 10th, 2005