May 03, 2010

Charging capitation fee a cognisable offence: Bill in parliament

A bill that makes charging of capitation fee by any medical or technical institute a cognisable offence and empowers police to arrest the erring administrators without warrant was introduced in the Lok Sabha today.

The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and University Bill, 2010 was introduced by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal amid din caused by opposition members over reported scam in 2G spectrum allocation and alleged involvement of Telecom Minister A Raja in it.

Sibal also introduced in the House the Educational Tribunal Bill, 2010 that provides for setting up specialised tribunals at the Centre and the states for adjudicating matters relating to disputes in educational institutions.

The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill, 2010, seeking to set up a body to assess and accredit every institution in higher education was also introduced. The prohibition of unfair practices bill seeks to classify malpractices into two categories.

Charging capitation fee will be a cognisable offence while other offences will be treated as non-cognisable and attract some fine. The civil offences will be adjudicated in the educational tribunals, while the cognisable offences will be dealt by courts.

At present, the fee structure in private engineering and medical colleges is fixed by a state-level committee headed by a retired high court judge. However, there are instances of many institutes charging fee higher than that suggested by the panel.

Certain institutes demand donations for admitting students and do not issue receipts for payments made by them. They give misleading advertisements in media with intent to cheat students. They also withhold certificates and other documents of students who want to quit the institute.

Certain institutes, which promise good quality education but do not deliver it, will face penalty under this new regulation. "Capitation fee charged by any institute will be a cognisable offence. People will be prosecuted without fear and favour," Sibal had said after the bill was cleared by the Cabinet.

The Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill provides for setting norms for accreditation. The process of accreditation will be outsourced to agencies of integrity registered with the authority. At present, accreditation is voluntary. But with the new authority in place, every institute will go through mandatory accreditation.

The present accreditation agencies like National Accreditation and Assessment Council and National Board of Accreditation will function under the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority. The purpose of creating the Accreditation Regulatory Authority is to ensure that people get quality education.

Every institute will make self-disclosure which can be audited by the accreditation authority. It will be an independent statutory body for quality control. The authority would also monitor and audit the accreditation agencies registered under it.

The Educational Tribunal Bill provides for adjudication by tribunals the disputes pertaining to accreditation, affiliation and inter-institution matters. The tribunals will act as fora for fast-track and speedy resolution of issues in institutions.

The legislation also provides for imprisonment for a term which could extend to three years and/or a fine of up to Rs ten lakh. The state tribunals will adjudicate matters concerning teachers, employees and students of institutions in the respective states.

The national tribunal, having nine members, would deal with all matters concerning regulatory bodies in higher education and also matters involving institutes located in two or more states. It would act as an appellate body against the orders of the state educational tribunals, the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.

Link: Original Article

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