16 Dec 2022 5:00 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court has issued an arrest warrant against the Joint Secretary of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for failing to make personal appearance in the case regarding the affiliation of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Institute of Technology (DBRAIT). The Court had sought the stand of the Centre in the issue on affidavit twice before. The Circuit Bench of Justices Rajasekhar...
The Calcutta High Court has issued an arrest warrant against the Joint Secretary of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for failing to make personal appearance in the case regarding the affiliation of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Institute of Technology (DBRAIT). The Court had sought the stand of the Centre in the issue on affidavit twice before.
The Circuit Bench of Justices Rajasekhar Mantha and Bibhas Ranjan De however clarified that the warrant need not be executed if the Joint Secretary was present on his own, while granting him the option to appear virtually in case flights are not available.
"The absence of the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education is equally curious. There is a specific direction for him to be personally present in Court with the records to assist the hearing of the matter and to decide the fate of the students who had already admitted. The ongoing parliamentary session cannot stand in the way of the Secretary's presence."
In May 2009, the Planning Commission gave its "in-principle" approval to set up an Engineering College at Port Blair. After several rounds of deliberation, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development decided to upgrade Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Polytechnic to an Engineering College.
The Andaman Administration in July 2010 ordered merger of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Government Polytechnic with another Government Polytechnic and upgrading them to Engineering College. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resource Development requested Pondicherry University to grant affiliation to DBRAIT.
However, a dispute cropped up between the College and University thereafter and Pondicherry University laid out certain conditions to the Andaman Administration and it was indicated that only after receiving compliance report the grant of Conditional Provisional Affiliation for the Academic Session 2019-20 should be reviewed. Soon, the University withdrew the provisional affiliation on the ground that the college could not cure the deficiencies. The College was asked to desist from making fresh admission without affiliation.
However, students started flowing into the DBRAIT not knowing that its affiliation was not formally granted by the University.
Challenging this move, the Administration filed a writ petition which was allowed in April 2022, permitting the College to function on the basis of a Provisional Affiliation corresponding to the Academic Session 2020-2021. This appeal was filed challenging the said decision.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education, Government of India washed its hands off the matter stating that matters of affiliation are governed by the statute of the University and that the Ministry of Human Resource Development has no role to play in the matter.
The appellant University contended that a degree college and a diploma programme cannot co-exist and that the buildings should be separated, with separate teaching staff and infrastructural support. Advocate Rajinder Singh appearing for the appellant University maintained that unless DBRAIT fulfills the conditions required by the University for affiliation, no further affiliation can be extended to the said College.
Advocate Samanta appearing for the Andaman Administration and for DBRAIT with Advocate Arul Prasanth appearing for the DBRAIT Students Council pointed out that the affiliation is to be granted in terms of the AICTE Norms. They further submitted that the appellant University had granted the affiliation in the past and also renewed the affiliation from time to time. However, in 2019 the affiliation was withdrawn on the allegations of non-fulfillment of affiliation conditions.
During the proceedings, the Court was informed that the students of the college were staging several agitations disrupting normal life at Port Blair, to the extent that the local police force was deployed to deal with the unrest using tear gas.
"The students having spent a good amount of money to get admission are in the lurch. Their future is uncertain if not doomed."
The Court found it unfortunate that despite this being a dispute between a Central University and the Andaman and Nicobar Administration which runs the college, the Centre had not filed any affidavit during the proceedings. The stand of the Union in the affiliation of the DBRAIT and the simultaneous operation of the Polytechnic was found to be of great importance.
Thereby, the Court called for an affidavit from the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development disclosing its stand with regard to the conditions imposed by the University for affiliation of the college. This was to be made available by November 1. However, despite the passage of two months and clarification that the stand of the Centre was crucial to bring clarity to the issue, the Court did not hear back from the Union.
The Court had then granted the Centre an additional fortnight as requested to file the affidavit and also sought the personal presence of the Joint Secretary to assist in the matter.
Although an affidavit seems to have been filed, this was found to be insufficient. Moreover, the Joint Secretary failed to make himself present before the Court as directed. In such circumstances, the Court issued an arrest warrant against the Joint Secretary.
The Bench further ordered that the DBRAIT shall forthwith and immediately cease and desist from receiving and admitting any fresh students in any engineering course for the year 20222023. The fate of the students, who have already admitted, shall abide by the result of the appeal.
The matter will be taken up on Monday for further consideration.
Case Title: Pondicherry University & Ors vs. The Andaman and Nicobar Administration & Ors
Click Here To Read/Download The Order