‘Will Open Floodgates’: Madras HC Refuses To Interfere With Anna University’s Decision To Collect Exam Fees Despite Cancellation Of Exams

first_imgNews Updates’Will Open Floodgates’: Madras HC Refuses To Interfere With Anna University’s Decision To Collect Exam Fees Despite Cancellation Of Exams Akshita Saxena1 Dec 2020 5:14 AMShare This – xThe Madras High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the decision of Anna University to collect examination fees from the students, even though the examinations were cancelled by the State Government on account of the ongoing pandemic. “The State Government itself authorized the Universities and academic Institutions to collect the semester fees as well as the examination fees…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Madras High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the decision of Anna University to collect examination fees from the students, even though the examinations were cancelled by the State Government on account of the ongoing pandemic. “The State Government itself authorized the Universities and academic Institutions to collect the semester fees as well as the examination fees from the students before publishing their results. Almost all the Universities have followed this instruction and collected the examination fees from the students even though the examination was not actually conducted…Therefore, when the majority of the Institutions and students have already paid the examination fees and got their results published, it will not be in the fitness of things to grant an exception only to those who have approached this Court questioning the collection of the examination fees,” a Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh held. The Judge added, “Even though the examination was not conducted, the fact that the students are declared as passed from the stage of first year to pre final year, has the effect of writing the examination and clearing the same. Therefore, it cannot be held to be completely illogical to demand payment of examination fees from the students for declaring their results.” The observation was made while hearing a batch of writ petitions filed by students undergoing Engineering Courses in colleges affiliated to Anna University, challenging the decision taken by the University to collect the examination fees from the students, even though the examinations were cancelled by the State Government. It was submitted that when the written examination has not even been conducted, the University cannot demand for the payment of the entire examination fee and that too where the students are already facing serious financial hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was further submitted that the University cannot unjustly enrich itself at the cost of the students and if at all any expense has been incurred towards pre examination process, the actual expenses incurred by the University only should be collected and nothing more. Anna University had filed a detailed counter affidavit explaining various expenses incurred by it, both during the pre-examination process and post-examination process. It submitted that nearly Rs. 141 Crores was collected towards examination fees whereas the University incurred a deficit of Rs. 23 Crores in receipt, which is incurred as a “direct expenditure” towards pre and post examination processes and its routine revenue expenditure semester wise. It was further stated in the counter affidavit that the Government Order itself specifically provided that the semester results will be released only to the candidates who have paid their semester fees as well as examination fee to the respective colleges. A further stand was taken in the counter to the effect that even though the students do not write the examination, unless the student pays the examination fees, the process of examination, publication of results and awarding of degree cannot be executed or initiated and therefore the claim made by the students and the institutions is totally unsustainable. Lastly it was stated that fixation of examination fee is purely an administrative decision taken by the University considering the expenses incurred by it and the same cannot be made a subject matter of challenge before the Court of law. On a perusal of the affidavit, the Court noted that the fees fixed for each paper worked out to be a sum of Rs. 148/-. In this backdrop it observed, “This Court must be very slow to exercise its judicial review in academic matters since it will set a very bad precedent and it will give rise to future litigations where students and Institutions will start rushing to this Court questioning the fixation of fees. In any event, this Court finds that the examination fees of Rs.148/- for each paper and for each student is not really exorbitant warranting the interference of this Court.” The Court reiterated that whenever any fee is fixed by any academic body, it can become a subject matter of judicial review only in exceptional cases. The Bench observed, “The consistent judicial pronouncements clearly indicate that such a judicial review will be exercised only where the administrative decision suffers from illegality or irrationality or by procedural irregularity. When it comes to the test of irrationality, the Court will have to see if the administrative decision suffers from a patent error or perversity.” In the present case, the Court noted, to interfere with this decision at this point of time when students from 378 non-autonomous colleges affiliated to the Anna University had already paid the examination fee, will open “floodgates” of litigation and it will result in a “chaotic situation”. It may be noted that during the pendency of the matter, an interim direction was issued to the University to declare the results irrespective of the fact whether the students have paid the examination fee or not. In its final order, the Court has directed all the Institutions affiliated to Anna University to collect the examination fees from the students, if not, already paid and in turn, pay the same to the Anna University within a period of four week. Case Title: N. Nandhini & Ors. v. Anna University & Ors. Click Here To Download Order Read OrderSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img