Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court has upheld the government’s decision to close down 8 government degree colleges that had been opened in haste, without proper infrastructure and no budgetary provisions by an outgoing government last year, and dismissed a bunch of petitions that had challenged the new government’s decision.
After hearing both sides, the division bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh observed, the first issue that needs to be examined is – whether the impugned decision of the state government is legal?
Writing for the bench, Justice Khanwilkar notes “There can be no difficulty in conceding to the executive of the state government to undo its earlier decision after review of the situation.”
In all 8 petitions filed by affected parents or students, pertaining to the 8 colleges opened between 23 June, 2012 to 6 September, 2012 at Rewalsar, Nihri, Ladbharol, Baldwara, Sarahan, Nankhari, Kasauli and Kotla were set aside by the court that did not accept their contention that the decision to shut down these institution was done so out of political vendetta.
“It is neither a case of casual decision taken by the new government nor because of any political vendetta, but purely on the basis of the record considered during the cabinet meeting in which the said decision was taken,” the judges observed.
Before adjudicating on the petitions, the court recorded that for the 2012-13 academic session there were only 104 students admitted in the 8 colleges, which were opened hurriedly opened in make shift accommodations of 3 to 5 rooms.
For 2013-14, the government had set aside a budget of Rs 192 Cr for higher education that would cater to the needs of existing 67 government degree colleges, 1327 senior secondary schools and 848 high schools. A new college involved a minimum investment of Rs 5 Cr just for civil works that had not been contemplated in the budgetary provisions, the court recorded.
Before de-notyfying the opening of the new colleges on 2 March, 2013, the court after examining the original file noted that the cabinet on 19th February, 2013 took a conscious decision in public interest.
From the inputs provided by a review undertaken by higher education department to the cabinet of minister it clearly revealed the inadequate strength of students and lack of infrastructure in the new colleges opened, the judges observed.