Illegal fee recovery from OBC students: HC seeks reply

Hearing a PIL by former ILS Law College student Siddharth Sharma regarding illegal fee recovery from OBC students, the Bombay High Court on November 6 asked the State Social Welfare Department to submit a reply on action taken against the institutes.

A division bench of Justices D D Sinha and V K Tahilramani ordered all officers of the department, including Secretary (Maharashtra) to submit a reply regarding action taken against colleges that recovered fees from students belonging to the reserved category. The next hearing is on December 11.

As per the PIL the colleges include University of Pune and a law College with NAAC accredition of A++.

According to a 2003 notification of the Social Welfare Department, no fee is to be charged from backward caste students. But many city colleges allegedly collected fees from them.

"Many colleges were found to collect full fees from OBC students. I was asked to pay the full fee. When I approached them for fee concession, they said I did not possess the required documents. The only thing I did not submit was a caste validity certificate which I assured to within three months. I offered to give this in writing but they did not relent and threatened to cancel my admission if I didn't pay the entire amount," said Arati, an engineering student. "After three hunger strikes and various demonstrations by us, the Social Welfare Department ordered the colleges to refund the fees and promised to take criminal action against the institutes. But nothing has happened," said Sharma.

The PIL sought refund of fees and criminal action against colleges involved. It also demanded criminal action against Director and Commissioner of the Social Welfare Department (Maharashtra), Divisional Social Welfare Officer of Pune and Special District Social Welfare Officer. He wanted removal of officers from service for inability to implement the fee waiver scheme and for not taking action against the colleges.

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