The Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad and Bangalore on Friday submitted before the Supreme Court that they would carry on with the old fee structure of charging Rs 150,000 for the time being, but also continue their ongoing dialogue with the HRD ministry for an amicable settlement of the fee-cut controversy.
Much to the dislike of the petitioners who had challenged the ministry's decision to reduce the fee to Rs 30,000, both IIM-A and IIM-B sought deferment of hearing on the PIL, saying that although they perceived the government move to be prima facie infringing upon their autonomy, they would like to continue their ongoing dialogue with the government.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare, Justice S B Sinha and Justice S H Kapadia then deferred the hearing on the PIL filed by Sandeep Parekh and others till last week of July.
Even the Faculty of IIM-Calcutta, which is up in arms against the decision of its board of governors to agree to fee-cut, decided to go with the IIM-A and IIM-B on this issue.
Earlier counsel for the petitioner, senior advocate Harish Salve, alleged that there has been a change in the stand of the IIMs from what they had stated in the affidavit and alleged that this showed that the 'government has resorted to arm-twisting.'
After the hearing, IIM-A issued a press release rejecting the suggestion of Salve of any 'arm-twisting' and said that the institute has never said anything contrary to what it has stated in the affidavit.
The petitioners wanted that the Supreme Court should go into the merit of the petition and examine the HRD ministry's February 5 order directing drastic reduction in the fees. But, the court chose to accede to the request of IIMs for deferment of the hearing.
IIM-A in its release said that the statement of Parekh before the media after the conclusion of the hearing was incorrect as the premier business school has all along maintained that it would first have a dialogue with the government and if the dialogue fails, it would explore the options of legal remedy.
The Apex Court was informed by senior advocate Anil Divan that N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman of IIM-A, has formed a negotiating committee comprising Jerry Rao, faculty member and chairman of Nasscom, B H Jajoo, faculty and board member of IIM-A, and Prof J R Verma, faculty member.
This committee has already began the negotiation process and has met Higher Education Secretary S C Tripathy in the HRD ministry.
The IIMs stressed that no student of poor background has ever been turned away from the institute because of his economic incapability to pay the fees and has been given scholarships and loans to pay the fees.
Appearing for IIM-B, senior advocate C S Vaidyananthan said that reduction in fees would help only the rich students as their studies would be subsidised with the money from the public exchequer.