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Court strikes down Kerala Education Act provisions

ICC Note:
Court strikes down new law that would have increased government regulation on privately-run colleges – since many of the colleges in Kerala are managed by Christians, this comes as good news for them to continue operating independently.

ICNS (1/4/07) — The Kerala High Court on Thursday struck down four key provisions of the controversial new law that the state government had enacted for the self-financing professional colleges.

The court termed the provisions in the law as “illegal, invalid and unconstitutional.” The judgment has come as a major blow to the Marxists-led government.

Church leaders who had protested against the law, saying it infringed the minority communities right to run professional educational institutions, welcomed the court order.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBC) Spokesperson Father Babu Joseph said the verdict proves that the education law enacted by the Kerala state government was not “the right one.”

“Church in India welcomes the court judgment. It should be an eye opener to the government because the court has held the new law to be unconstitutional,” Father Joseph said.

He said the Church has been campaigning against the law because Kerala Self Financing Professional Colleges Act of 2006 had infringed upon the rights of minority communities to run colleges professionally.

“We urge the state government to accept the court order,” the CBCI spokesperson added.

The sections of the Kerala Self Financing Professional Colleges Act of 2006 that that the court struck down are 3, 7, 8 and 10 that dealt with admission to the colleges, fee structures, power of the government to decide the minority status of institutions and reservations for various communities, including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The over 300-page judgement was delivered by a division bench comprising Chief Justice V K Bali and Justice P R Raman that disposed of five appeals of the state government and a batch of petitions by the managements and associations of self -financing professional colleges.

The law to prohibit capitation fees, regulate admissions, fix non-exploitative fees and other measurers to ensure equity and excellence in education was enacted by the LDF government soon after it came to power last year to check the commercialisation of professional education in Kerala.

The act’s highlight was that admission to 85 per cent of seats in all professional colleges would be on the basis of merit, based on the state’s Common Entrance Test, and counselling through a single-window system. Capitation fees were banned.

Fifty per cent of seats were set apart for socially and educationally backward classes, including SCs and STs (10 per cent), poor among the socially and educationally backward (25), economically backward among higher castes (12) and physically challenged (three).