Another writ petition challenging the fee cut imposed on the Indian Institutes of Management by the Union human resource development ministry has been filed in the Supreme Court.
On March 27, a fresh writ petition was filed by Professor Vipin Gupta, a visiting faculty member at IIM-Indore and guest faculty at IIM-Calcutta, along with two co-petitioners, Shashi Bhushan Singh and Kamal Sharma. All three are also former IIM students.
Professor Vipin Gupta is also an international business scholar from the Grand Valley State University and a PhD from the Wharton School.
The petition challenges the legality of the fee cut order and claims that the government of India is trying to go beyond the powers available to it in its relationship with the IIMs, thus violating the autonomy of the IIMs 'illegally.' The petition seeks a stay on the fee cut order.
On February 5, 2004, V S Pandey, joint secretary, ministry of human resource development, Government of India, signed and issued an order whereby the fees charged by the IIMs was directed to be reduced from near about Rs 1,50,000 per year to Rs 30,000 per year.
The move sparked off a furore in the IIM community of students, professors and alumni who perceived it as an encroachment on the autonomy of the IIMs.
Earlier another public interest litigation was filed by former alumnus, Sandeep Parekh. However, the court disposed of the petition saying that the fee cut was not illegal.
In the latest petition filed, Gupta and his team say that it was not brought to the notice of the court that the government's order of the fee cut and the procedure adopted for passing such an order per se was 'illegal' and in violation of Article 3(h) and Article 5 of memorandum of association, which is the basis on which the IIMs have been established.
The relationship between the central government, the government of the state in which the IIM is located, and the concerned IIM Society is governed by the provisions of the Memorandum of Association, Rules, Byelaw and Societies Registration Act, 1860, and is distinguishable from the other government colleges and institutions where there is no society to conduct the affairs of the government college/ institutions.
The situation in case of IIMs is different from government colleges as the property and management of the Institute vests in the IIM Society and not in the respective state government or the central government, claim the petitioners.
The central government has power under the memorandum of association to issue directives to the IIM Society only after following the procedure prescribed in Article 5 of the memorandum of association, the petitioners have said.
They have also claimed that the government's decision to meet the annual revenue shortfall because of the fee cut is a 'retrograde step' and will ultimately adversely affect the academic excellence for which the IIMs are known.
The petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to quash aside the fee cut order and to restrain the ministry of HRD, the minister of HRD, and V S Pandey, joint secretary, ministry of HRD from interfering in day-to-day affairs, internal administration and autonomy of the IIMs.