Madras HC Applies Principle of Equity, Directs College to Refund 80% Tuition Fee to Student
The Madras High Court in A. Sriram Khanna vs State of Tamil Nadu -WP. No. 29596/2014 – applying the principle of equity held that the petitioner was entitled for refund of 80% fees from the college since the same seat allotted to him, upon cancellation of admission, was allotted to a different student.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice SR Subramaniam said:
However, the principles of equity have to be applied, in such circumstances in view of the fact that after the discontinuance of the petitioner from the course, another student was admitted and the respondent University collected the tuition fees from the other student, who was admitted subsequently. When the tuition fee was collected from the other student at the time of giving up the seat allotted to the petitioner, the petitioner is entitled to get back the fees amount.
The petitioner had filed a writ to direct the respondent no 2 -Annamalai University to refund the tuition fees amounting to Rs. 5,99,770/- which was paid by him for M.D.(Psychiatry) PG Course to respondent no. 3 college (M/s Rajah Mutiah Medical College). The petitioner, a practicing doctor, had applied for the M.D. (Psychiatry) PG Course and was allotted a seat for the course in the respondent no. 3 college, which comes under the respondent no.2 university. For the said course he paid the tuition fees on 5.06.2013 and the classes commenced from 12.06.2013. On 18.06.2013 he submitted a letter expressing his disinterest in the said course, after having attended the lectures for 1 day. Accordingly, he was entitled to the refund of the fees. The petitioner put reliance on the University Grants Commission (UGC) notification of October 2018, wherein it was stated that if any person makes withdrawal of admission within 15 days or less after the formally-notified last date of admission, then the student is entitled for the refund of 80% of the tuition fees.
The respondent university prayed for the dismissal of the petition by submitting that the said notification was made in 2018, whereas the petitioner was admitted in 2013, and therefore was not entitled to the said relaxation.
The court while agreeing that the said notification was issued by UGC in the year 2018 also noted that the court must follow the rule of equity. The court found that after the cancellation of admission by the petitioner another student was allotted his seat with full course amount being paid by that student.
The court stated:
“The institution cannot collect tuition fees from two different students. In the present case, the petitioner left the college after attending one day class and submitted a letter of undertaking expressing his unwillingness to continue the course. Immediately, another student was admitted into the course and also paid the tuition fees. This being the factum, the principles of equity should be applied in the present case.”
The court further expressed that the UGC has given clarification regarding the refund of fees in special circumstances, and that since the case of petitioner falls under the said circumstance; he is entitled to get a refund of 80% of his tuition fees.
The court further added:
“Further, the 3rd respondent college has already been taken over by the Government and therefore the Government is now liable to pay refund of tuition fees already collected from the petitioner. This being the factum established, the respondents are directed to refund 80% of tuition fees to the petitioner, within a period of 12 weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.”
Accordingly, the petition was disposed of.
Rasmita Behera | Research Intern | EduLegaL