The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has upheld the closure of Manoharbhai Patel Institute of Engineering and Technology, the only engineering institute in Gondia district.
A divisional bench comprising Justices Nitin Jamdar and Anil Pansare observed that the closure will impact the education and staff employed in the institute.
Education is an important element in life.
The bench also observed that the management doesn’t have an unfettered right to close down an institution.
Manoharbhai Patel Institute of Engineering and Technology was established in 1983-84 after obtaining permissions from the University, State Government and AICTE and has six branches of Engineering.
The College has one Principal, four Professors, twenty Associate Professors, twenty-nine Assistant Professors and seventy non-teaching staff members.
In August 2018 VC of the Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University had rejected the management’s application seeking to close down the institute from the academic year 2018-19.
The bench also allowed petitions filed by the staff members seeking arrears of their salary as per the sixth pay commission. The court has directed the management to clear the dues of the staff, along with increased dearness allowance as applicable from time to time and Naxalite allowance from the date of their entitlement, along with 6% interest per annum.
The management has been given four months’ time to clear the dues upto March 31, 2022, failing which the interest rate on the arrears would increase to 8 per cent per annum.
The State Government had constituted a Shikshan Shulk Samiti for deciding fee structure but it impacted the revenue available to the Management.
The State Government was also blamed for not paying fees of the students belonging to the reserved category, amounting to over Rs 9.59 crore, resulting in the management’s liabilities exceeding its reserve fund and the management had no other option but to close the college.
A reply filed by the employees of the institute pointed out that the management was one of the richest in the State as one of the trustees of the trust and member of the governing council of the management (Gondia Education Society) had, in an Election affidavit filed in the year 2015, declared assets worth Rs.143 crore and that the managing trustee of the Management lead a lavish lifestyle and had several assets, and had spent extravagant amounts on family weddings.
The employees also alleged that the management had deliberately not taken admissions for the academic year 2018-19 to show zero students for that new academic year.
The bench also noticed that there was no formal application made by the management to shut down the institute as per section 121 of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016.
The court noted that as per section 121, the management desirous of closing down a college or recognised institution has to apply to the University, setting out the grounds for closure and the financial position assets etc, and upon receipt of such an application, Academic Council is required to make an enquiry.