8 Sep 2023 8:15 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently upheld Marathwada University’s decision to withdraw the affiliation of Shri Tulja Bhavani Arts and Science College, Aurangabad, due to severe lack of academic and infrastructural facilities.A division bench of Justice Mangesh S Patil and Justice Shailesh P Brahme at Aurangabad, in a writ petition against the university’s decision, observed that there...
The Bombay High Court recently upheld Marathwada University’s decision to withdraw the affiliation of Shri Tulja Bhavani Arts and Science College, Aurangabad, due to severe lack of academic and infrastructural facilities.
A division bench of Justice Mangesh S Patil and Justice Shailesh P Brahme at Aurangabad, in a writ petition against the university’s decision, observed that there were serious lapses in the college and the university had followed proper procedure for withdrawal of affiliation.
“The disputes in the management are a common feature now a days. But that by itself may not affect the college. Basic infrastructural facilities are must to maintain academic standards. The present case reflects serious lapses having large magnitude which are found to be sufficient to disqualify the petitioner from running the college. We find justification for the respondent No. 2/university in taking drastic action of withdrawal of affiliation”, the court held.
The affiliation committee of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad in its inspection report dated August 23, 2021, had highlighted several issues with college which lead to the withdrawal of affiliation in 2022. These included lack of teachers, librarian and principal, disorganized writing boards in classrooms, lack of computer facilities, lack of any equipment in the physics, chemistry, and zoology labs, and inadequate collection of books as well as absence of a properly maintained register in the library.
The committee also reported that the classrooms were furnished with primary school furniture and toys. Further, the committee found that the college had inadequate drinking water facilities, no gymnasium, no hostel, no canteen, no ladies room, no playground or botanical garden, and no bio-metric system.
The petitioner Nisargadeep Shikshan Prasarak Mandal is an educational institution operating the college on a permanent non-grant basis since 2009. Marathwada University had extended affiliation to the college from 2009 onwards, with annual inspections to ensure that the college met the necessary standards for renewal.
The petitioner challenged the university’s decision through the present writ petition seeking the court's intervention to restore the affiliation. An application for intervention was filed by one Baburao Ramdas Pawar supporting the university’s decision.
The petitioner claimed that recently, disputes have within the institution's management. The petitioner alleged that the rival group consisting of six resigning members caused hindrance to the college's smooth functioning, bank account closures, and disputes over the management's authority. The rival group obtained the college's login credentials, prompting a police complaint, the petitioner claimed. According to the petitioner, recruitment of key staff members including the principal was stalled due to the management disputes.
The petitioner argued that the university’s decision to withdraw affiliation was arbitrary, illegal, and influenced by frivolous complaints from the rival group. The petitioner claimed that the inspection report was never shared with it.
The university stated that it followed the statutory procedure outlined in Section 120 of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016. The university asserted that the decision was taken in response to severe deficiencies identified before the COVID-19 pandemic. It submitted that it gave show-cause notices to the petitioner outlining the deficiencies in the college and initiated withdrawal proceeding after receiving petitioner’s reply.
The court did not delve into the management disputes within the petitioner organization. The court emphasized that in its writ jurisdiction its role was limited to assessing the validity of the university’s decision-making process, as the university is the expert on academic standards.
The court noted that the university has the authority to inspect affiliated colleges and ascertain whether affiliation conditions are met. It further highlighted Section 108(1) of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, which mandates that management of a college maintain the required academic standards. Infrastructural facilities are crucial for upholding these standards, the court said. If a college operates in a manner detrimental to the university's interests or the established standards, affiliation may be withdrawn, the court noted.
The court observed that the college had been inspected annually for affiliation renewal, with deficiencies noted as early as December 2019. Subsequent show-cause notices and replies show that the petitioner was given opportunities to address these issues, the court said.
The court held that the university had followed statutory procedures. It noted that the university took into account the well-being of the students and adjusted them in nearby colleges.
Thus, the court dismissed the writ petition and disposed of the intervention application.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 9809 of 2022
Case Title – Nisargadeep Shikshan Prasarak Mandal v. State of Maharashtra
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