Friday, March 30, 2012

Tech college seats halved

A ragging complaint and the college’s alleged inaction on it has cost the private engineering college near Calcutta half its seats for the 2012-13 academic session.

In an unprecedented move against an educational institution in Bengal, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has barred Camellia Institute of Technology and Management in Bainchi, 60km from Calcutta, from admitting more than 180 students. The institute at present has 360 seats.

The order will be implemented once the West Bengal University of Technology, to which the college is affiliated, initiates proceedings to finalise the number of seats, said Sabyasachi Sengupta, the vice-chancellor of the varsity and the chairman of AICTE’s eastern regional council.

AICTE adviser M.K. Hada wrote to the college in February, stating the council was “convinced that the college was not implementing any anti-ragging measures on the campus”.

The college has moved Calcutta High Court against the order, said Nilratan Dutta, the chairman of the Camellia group, which runs the college in Hooghly and five more private engineering colleges in the state. According to college sources, the case would be heard this week. “The college has also appealed to the AICTE for withdrawing the order,” Dutta said.

The ragging complaint dates back to August 2010, when Sibtain Habib of Garden Reach and three other first-year students were allegedly “assaulted” by second-year students. Habib had lodged a complaint on an anti-ragging helpline operated by the UGC.

He was transferred to the institute’s Barasat campus but he quit studies soon after.

The UGC had asked the AICTE to look into the complaint. The AICTE held three hearings last year, the last of them on December 28, and summoned representatives of the college.

The AICTE pointed out 12 “deficiencies” on the part of the college. According to the report, the institute had neither conducted an inquiry nor filed an FIR. The Supreme Court makes it mandatory for an FIR to be lodged after a ragging complaint.

“We had lodged a complaint with Bainchi police station. It is the discretion of police to decide whether the complaint shall be treated as an FIR or a general diary. We tried to explain this to the AICTE but failed,” Dutta said.

Describing the incident as “a scuffle between two batches of students”, Dutta said: “The student complained neither to police nor to the college authorities.”

An official of the higher education department, which has received a copy of the AICTE order, said the council was not happy with the shoddy internal inquiry.

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