Thane college fined Rs 5 lakh after fee fraud unearthed

January 01, 2020

MUMBAI: The Fee Regulation Authority (FRA) has penalized an architecture college Rs 5 lakh for violating fee norms since 2012.

Samayak Sankalp College of Architecture, Thane, failed to submit its documents to the FRA, which decides the annual fees of all professional colleges. The college even fraudulently collected hefty fees by tampering with FRA documents.

After the fraud came to light, the college management tried to wriggle out by submitting that a staff member of the college had been indulging in malpractice. But the FRA noted that the said staff member was being made a “scapegoat”.

The Authority stated that “under no circumstance” could it be believed that the college management was oblivious to the legal requirement of submitting fee proposals to the competent authority.

“Besides committing continuous default in not submitting fee proposals, the said college indulged in tampering with the minutes of the meetings recorded by the then Shikshan Shulka Samiti and later on by the FRA. This was done very skillfully. Some junior administrative staff is being made a scapegoat,” noted the order of the FRA.

The college uploaded the fee structure for AY 2019-20 as Rs 95,000. “As per the information received from the I-T department of the government of Maharashtra.... FRA noticed that the said college which bore the code number AR3252 did not approach the FRA for getting its fees approved. It was further noticed that in the past the said college never submitted any proposal for fees either to the Shikshan Shulka Samiti or to the FRA,” said the minutes of the FRA, a copy of which is with TOI.

FRA authorities noted that this was not a mere case of non-submission of documents. “The minutes of the meeting recorded by the then Shikshan Shulka Samiti and the FRA have been tampered with and false documents created for the purpose of evidence,” noted a member in a recently-held FRA meeting.

For instance, in 2012, the SSS documents were tampered with and Asmita College of Architecture’s name was replaced with that of Samayak Sankalp College. In 2013, it again downloaded the fee decision documents and altered them. This time, it chose to put its name in place of Mahatma Education Society’s Pillai College of Architecture. This continued over the years. In 2017, it was BR Harne College of Architecture and in 2018, it substituted its name in place of LS Raheja College of Architecture, taking its annual fees to Rs 86,500.

“Such act of gross violation of legal provisions continued over a number of years which cannot be attributed to a single staff member. Connivance of those running the college is writ large. What has been done is unfortunate, unusual and unbecoming of an educational institute,” said the order. The FRA will hold a separate inquiry to find out if the college ought to be directed to refund fees to students.

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