Junior college seats across Maharashtra are expected to increase this academic year to accommodate over 3.70 lakh students, as the Bombay high court on Monday allowed the state government to consider 410 applications of existing schools either for additional divisions in junior colleges or for starting new junior colleges.
A division bench of justices KK Tated and GS Kulkarni modified January 28, 2020, order passed by another bench, restraining the government from considering any application either to start a new school or for permission for additional divisions or classes.
Though the bench continued restraint on permitting new schools under the provisions of the Maharashtra Self Finance Schools (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2012, it allowed the state government to consider 280 applications on existing authorised schools for starting junior colleges and 130 applications for additional junior college divisions.
The bench passed the order after advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted that this academic year, additional junior colleges and additional junior college divisions will be required across Maharashtra as the number of SSC-passed students has considerably increased this year. He pointed out that last year about 19.37 lakh students had cleared SSC examination. This year, he said, the number has increased by over 3.70 lakh, thus, the state will require more junior colleges seats.
Kumbhakoni also pointed out that on October 5, 2020, the government had promulgated the Maharashtra Self Finance School (Establishment and Regulation) Rules, 2020, and assured the court that the applications for new Class 11 and 12 and additional divisions from existing colleges would be considered strictly by the rules.
The January 28 order was passed by a bench headed by justice SC Dharmadhikari on a petition filed by city resident Manju Jaiswal complaining about permissions granted to several coaching classes for setting up junior colleges on the ground that those institutions did not fulfil legal requirements like 500 square meters land either on ownership or leasehold basis and infrastructure mentioned in the 2012 enactment.
Jaiswal has sought cancellation of the permissions granted to several coaching classes to start junior colleges and also a direction for restraining the government from granting any new permissions for self-financed schools without strictly adhering to the provisions of the 2012 enactment.
The order was passed after the bench noticed that the government machinery was not fully functional to implement the Maharashtra Self Finance Schools (Establishment and Regulation) Act, and Rules were not framed under the law, important authorities under the enactment were not notified and appointed.
In this backdrop, by the order dated January 28, the bench had restrained state government from considering any pending or new applications for starting new schools under the 2012 Act.
The bench had also restrained the government from renewing existing approvals or permissions unless a full-fledged inspection and scrutiny was undertaken by the State or Field level authorities, as may be notified by the Rules, and directed to keep on hold all applications seeking renewal of existing permissions until such scrutiny and verification was undertaken.