The Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPERC) waived 50 per cent of the fine imposed against four private universities, the commission has revealed responding to an RTI application.
The four universities were earlier punished with the fines for irregularities, malpractices, and not following the norms laid down by the HPPERC.
In a complaint to the state Chief Minister, social activist Ajay Kumar alleged that imposing the fine was just a "publicity stunt," as the regulatory body had no intention to see through the reprimand, and rolled back its own order silently without informing anyone.
Kumar said that the HPPERC Chairman had released a press statement about imposition of the fine and also uploaded the orders on the website of the commission.
But when it came to the waiver, the commission implemented it without informing the complainant and also failed to upload the waiver decision on the commission website, he said.
According to the information, the commission had imposed a fine of Rs 11 lakh on IEC University on June 10, 2021, Rs 3 lakh on Indus International University on December 4, 2021, Rs 2.5 lakh penalty on Arni University on September 15, 2021, and Rs 3.5 lakh on Sri Sai University on April 7, 2021 and August 11, 2021.
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According to the commission, fines imposed against all four universities were halved due to COVID 19 pandemic, low student intake, and overall financial condition of the private universities.
A fine was imposed on the IEC University for running external self-paced learning courses. Indus International University was penalised for giving fake experience certificates and degrees to its employees, which is not allowed as per UGC guidelines, and usurping SC/ST scholarship of their employees.
Arni University was fined on account of delay in giving salaries to 23 of its employees, while Sri Sai University was punished for not refunding the security amount.
When contacted, HPPERC Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Atul Kaushik said half of the total fine was waived on the plea of the universities in which they submitted that their financial condition was not good due to low student intake caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Fees of some students were also waived by a few universities, he said, however, the claim could not be supported by the commission with any paperwork, according to the RTI.
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