Maharashtra FRA Rejects Excess Fee Complaints From Ex-Students, Citing Lack Of Jurisdiction

Maharashtra FRA Rejects Excess Fee Complaints From Ex-Students, Citing Lack Of Jurisdiction

The authority pointed out that only the current students, their parents and the college management constitute the stake-holders that can seek resolution of their grievances from FRA.

Musab QaziUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2024, 11:35 AM IST
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Dismissing several complaints about excess fees filed by former students of various professional education institutes, the state Fee Regulating Authority (FRA) held that the pleas were not maintainable as ex-students can't be termed the "stakeholders". While hearing a number of fee-related grievances, the fee regulator said that it lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate pleas by former students since they are not among the entities categorised as stake-holders under the Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fees) Act, 2015. The authority pointed out that only the current students, their parents and the college management constitute the stake-holders that can seek resolution of their grievances from FRA.

In order to entertain the grievance by the authority the complaints must be the stakeholder as defined undersection 2(w) of the Act. "Undisputedly at the time of filing complaints none of the students were studying in the college. In that view the complaints are not maintainable. It was therefore decided to reject the complaints," the FRA ruled.

About the complaint

The complaints, which were filed during the last two years, pertained to a law college in Mumbai, an engineering college in Thane, and a business school in Pune. While the hearing was conducted in February, the proceedings of the matters were released on Wednesday.

There has been a spurt in complaints about colleges demanding more fees than the amount approved by FRA, with more than 20 grievances from students seeking admission to Ayurveda colleges in regular as well as institutional quotas. However, many of these matters remained inconclusive due to the limited powers accorded to FRA by the law.

The authority, in another meeting in March, had made similar observations about its jurisdiction while dealing with complaints from the students who were allegedly denied admission after they refused to pay the excess fees demanded by the colleges. The authority had held that the complainants didn't fall in the category of stakeholders as they weren't studying at the institutes about which they complained.

Grievances need to be addressed by State CET Cell, FRA suggested

FRA had suggested that since these grievances a rise at the stage of admission, they need to be addressed by the State Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell, which is responsible for carrying out the admission process for professional colleges. It recommended that the Cell evolve a mechanism for centralised fee payment, instead of having the students pay directly to the college, so as to avoid cancellation of admission on the pretext of non-payment of the fees and harassment of students.

Pooja Thorat, a lawyer at Bombay High Court, said that while the former students can take their complaints to other forums such as the apex bodies of the respective professional education institute, the state government and even courts, the scope of the Act can be expanded to include the mamong stakeholders.

"Many students don't want to file complaints while they are studying, as they are insecure about the colleges assessing them unfairly in the exams. But unfortunately, once they graduate they are no longer considered as stake-holders," she said.

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