Union Cabinet approves major education reform Bills

According to the Bill on Prohibition of Unfair Practices, charging of capitation fee or failure of educational institutions to keep promises of quality education could attract imprisonment up to three years for guilty administrators or a fine up to Rs50 lakh for the institute

Duping students by charging capitation fee or failing to keep up to the promise of quality education could now attract a fine of up to Rs50 lakh for errant institutes or imprisonment up to three years for its administrators, according a Bill cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, reports PTI.

Paving the way for stricter penal action against educational institutions indulging in unfair practices, the Cabinet approved the draft Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010.

The Cabinet also cleared two other education reform Bills—one for setting up of Educational Tribunals to adjudicate disputes in campuses and another for setting up a National Accreditation Agency to give accreditation and benchmarks to institutions. These Bills will now be tabled in Parliament, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters in New Delhi.

According to the Bill on Prohibition of Unfair Practices, charging of capitation fee or failure of educational institutions to keep promises of quality education could attract imprisonment up to three years for guilty administrators or fine up to Rs50 lakh for the institute.

The Bill seeks to consider such practices as criminal or civil offences depending on the nature of the crime.

According to the Bill, if an institute makes certain promises in its prospectus, but does not deliver or charges capitation fee from a number of students, then such practices should be considered criminal offences.

However, in case of an isolated instance of malpractice involving just one or two students, the offences could be considered civil offences. In such cases, the institutes could be slapped with fines.

The criminal offences will be tried in a court of law while civil offences will be tried in educational tribunals to be set up soon.

The Educational Tribunal Bill will provide for setting up of tribunals to settle all types of disputes, including any type of malpractice or harassment of students.

The third Bill is on setting up of an accreditation agency which will assess and accredit institutions of higher education to ensure high standards. The proposed National Accreditation Authority will evaluate the quality of institutes.

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