The Kerala High Court has struck down as unconstitutional and void a government decision not to grant permission for starting new self-financing arts and science colleges in unaided and aided sectors and also new courses in existing colleges.
The court passed the verdict while allowing a slew of writ petitions filed by various minority managements and others challenging the government order issued on August 8, 2016 imposing a blanket ban on starting new colleges and new courses.
The court observed the blanket directive by the government that no colleges could be started and when it was acted upon by the universities, clearly amounted to infringement of the fundamental right of a citizen under Article 19(1) (g) (to practice any profession or carry on any business or trade) and also Article 30(1) of the Constitution (right of the religious minority to establish and maintain education institutions).
If the government had a case that there was no necessity for a college in a particular area, it could definitely frame a law in this regard. But there was no such law as of now.
When the universities sought its views, it was open for the government to inform its view about either starting a new college or additional courses in a college. But the same view could not be an absolute restriction. It had to be taken on a case-to-case basis depending on various factors. That apart, if the government did not permit a new college or a course in an existing college, the reasons for the same should be given.
Therefore, the government should take its view based on a case-to-case basis and not on the basis of an order which would affect the fundamental rights of the citizen to start a college, the court added.
The government took the stand that it could very well formulate a policy and was entitled to take note of various factual situations in the State for permitting new arts and science colleges either in the unaided sector or in the aided sector.
The court also directed the universities to take a decision and pass orders on the applications of the petitioners in a month.
The petitions were filed by institutions which sought permission for starting colleges under Kerala University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kannur University and Calicut University.