It is also relevant to note that in the present proceedings, the petitioner has not assailed the terms and conditions of the Counselling Brochure. Having failed to do so, he cannot be permitted to question the same, by trying to give it an interpretation which runs contrary to the clear terminology used in the relevant clauses. The Court is also not oblivious to the fact that the IIT JEE 2012 is to be held on 8.4.2012 for which the Application Forms of the candidates were required to reach the Zonal IIT as long back as on 15.12.2011. It is therefore not acceptable for the petitioner to approach the Court just about a week before the dated fixed for the examination, when even as per his own case, he had submitted his application form on 12.11.2011 after reading the eligibility conditions laid down in the Brochure. Moreover, no explanation, much less a plausible explanation has been offered by the petitioner for failing to report to IIT (Madras) on 26.7.2011, in terms of the seat allotment letter issued to him on 10.07.2011.
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
+ W.P. (C) 1744/2012 -Decided on: 27th March, 2012
INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, DELHI & ORS.
1. This petition has been filed by the petitioner praying inter alia for directions to the respondent No.1/IIT-Delhi to permit him to appear in the competitive examination, i.e., JEE-2012 and to issue him an admit card for the said purpose. The petitioner also seeks quashing of the letter dated 13.03.2012 issued by respondent No.1 in reply to an application submitted by him for appearing in the IIT-JEE, 2012.
2. Briefly stated, the facts of the case as set out in the writ petition are that in May, 2011, the petitioner had passed the intermediate examination from the CBSE Board. On 02.11.2011, the petitioner had applied for IIT JEE-2011 in the reserved category (SC). On 10.04.2011, the petitioner had appeared in JEE-2011 examination. On 25.05.2011, he was informed that he had qualified the JEE-2011 examination. On 21.06.2011, respondent No.1 declared the results of the counselling held by them. In terms of the counselling, the petitioner was allotted Engineering Design (Automotive Engineering) Five Year M-Tech Dual Degree Course at IIT-Madras. On 22.06.2011, the petitioner deposited a sum of `20,000/- towards non-refundable registration fee by making an online payment. As per the seat allotment letter dated 10.07.2011 addressed by the Organizing Chairman, JEE-2011 to the petitioner, he was offered admission to the first year of the aforesaid course under the SC category for the academic year, 2011-12 and was called upon to report at IIT-Madras on 26.07.2011, failing which it was informed that the offer of admission would be cancelled. It is the case of the petitioner that due to some personal reasons, he could not report at IIT-Madras for registration on the assigned date and as a result, could not take advantage of the seat allotted to him in the subject course for the academic year 2011-12. On 29.11.2011, he received a refund for an amount `19,000/- from the respondent No.3/IIT (Madras), towards the fee deposited by him in June 2011.
3. On 06.08.2011, the petitioner addressed a query via email to IIT-Gauhati regarding his eligibility for sitting in the IIT JEE-2012. On 12.11.2011, the petitioner applied for JEE-2012 in the General category. On 17.03.2012, the petitioner received a letter dated 13.03.2012 from the respondent No.1/IIT (Delhi) informing him that he had attempted JEE-2011 successfully and had got an admission offer, which was accepted by him by depositing the admission fee and therefore, he was ineligible to write IIT-JEE 2012. In view of the above, he was informed that as per Clause 3.5 of the Information Brochure of IIT JEE-2012, which lays down the eligibility criterian for appearing in IIT JEE-2012, and stipulates that “Candidates who have taken admission (irrespective of whether or not they continued in any of the programmes) or accepted the admission by paying registration fee at any of the IITs, IT-BHU Varanasi or ISM Dhanbad are not eligible to appear in IIT JEE-2012”, his application for IIT JEE-2012 stood cancelled as he was ineligible. Aggrieved by the aforesaid cancellation letter dated 17.03.2012, the petitioner has filed the present writ petition.
4. Learned counsel for the petitioner contends that Clause 3.5 of the Information Brochure is applicable only to those candidates who had taken admission in JEE-2011 batch and cannot include candidates like the petitioner as he had neither reported for joining, nor deposited the admission fee. He states that the counselling fee paid by the petitioner in JEE-2011 having been refunded by respondent No.3/IIT (Madras), the petitioner cannot be barred from appearing in IIT JEE-2012. It is further urged that no prejudice would be caused to the respondents, if the petitioner is allowed to appear in the competitive examination as he has neither caused any financial loss to them, nor has he taken admission in respondent No.3/IIT (Madras). It is lastly urged by learned counsel that the mere act of depositing `20,000/- as registration fee does not tantamount to admission in the Institute as payment of the said amount was only a pre-condition imposed on the candidates to appear in the second counselling session for upgradation to better choices/courses.
5. Counsel for the respondents vehemently opposes the present petition and submits that the same is misconceived. He states that the petitioner has deliberately not placed on record the ‘Counselling Brochure – „A Guide to Candidates Qualified in JEE-2011â€Ÿ, the terms and conditions whereof clearly lay down the eligibility condition for candidates desirous of appearing in the JEE-2012 or later. The attention of this Court is particularly drawn to Clause 1.10 of the Brochure, which deals with course allotment. The relevant extract of the aforesaid clause is as below:-
“All candidates who accept the offer of admission by paying registration fee will become INELIGIBLE for appearing in JEE 2012 or later. Fees once paid will not be refunded. Candidates once admitted to a particular institute through JEE cannot be transferred to another participating institute.”
The relevant extract of the aforesaid Brochure is handed over by learned counsel for the respondents and taken on record.
6. Counsel for the respondents submits that the terms and conditions stipulated in the Counselling Brochure is clearly applicable to candidates like the petitioner, who have qualified in JEE-2011. He states that as counselling is done online for all JEE-2011 qualified candidates desirous of joining IITs, no candidate is expected to appear in person for the counselling and therefore the registration fee deposited by the candidate is not a precondition imposed for appearance in the second counselling, as contended by the other side.
7. The entire case set up by the petitioner is based on the terms and conditions of the Counselling Brochure and the relevant clauses thereof need to be examined carefully. As per Clause 1.3 of the Brochure, the online counselling procedure prescribed by the respondents comprises of the following four steps:-
(1) Registration on JEE Counselling Online portal (JCOP) website,
(2) Payment of counselling fees,
(3) Submission of photocopies of documents to the zonal IITs, and
(4) Choice filling.
8. Clause 1.5 relates to online choice filling and prescribes that after registration and payment of counseling fee, the candidate is required to login to the JCOP using the User-ID, password and the JEE-2011 registration number printed on the admit card. On this webpage, the candidate is required to enter the choices of courses in the order of preference. The candidates are also advised to fill in a large number of choices of courses in decreasing order of preference otherwise, the candidates may not get any course allotment in case of a low AIR.
9. The Brochure clarifies that an applicant who has qualified in JEE-2011 and permitted for online counseling, is not guaranteed admission and also that there are two rounds of course allocation in JEE-2011. At the end of the first round, a candidate is informed about the course allotted to him. The allotment can change in the second round to a choice better than one allotted in the first round depending on the number of candidates declining the seats offered to them in the first round of seat allotment.
10. Clause 1.6 of the Brochure lays down the manner of payment of the counseling fee. It prescribes a non-refundable counseling fee of `1,000/- to be paid by candidates and stipulates that the said fee can be paid only after registration of the candidate. As per Clause 1.10, after the first round of counselling of course allotment, the candidates, who were allotted a course, were required to pay a non-refundable registration fee of `40,000/- (`20,000/- for SC/ST candidate) on or before 17:00 hrs. of July 1, 2011 so as to accept the offer of admission. The Brochure prescribes that the aforesaid amount as deposited would be adjusted towards the fee to be paid at the time of admission. Further, candidates are warned that those, who do not pay the registration fee within the stipulated period would not be considered for second allotment and would also lose the seat allotted in the first allotment. For candidates, who pay the registration fee within the stipulated time, the course allotted in the first round is described as provisional and it is further clarified that by paying the registration fee, the candidate accepts admission to any of the courses that are equal or higher in preference than the one allotted in the first round as per his/her choice list.
11. The cut-off date for second and final allotment of course was fixed as 06.07.2011 and it was clarified that after the second allotment, candidates were required to report to the Institute wherein they had been allotted a seat on the reporting date, i.e., on 26.7.2011, failing which, the offer of admission would stand cancelled. The last information given in Clause 1.10 is that all candidates who accept the offer of admission by paying the registration fee will become ineligible for appearing in JEE-2012 or later and that fee once paid would not be refunded.
12. In view of the aforesaid clear and categorical terms and conditions laid down in the Counselling Brochure for candidates qualified in the JEE-2011, particularly, Clauses 1.4, 1.6 and 1.10, it is not permissible for the petitioner to claim that the registration fee deposited by him was nothing but a pre-condition to appear in the second counselling session and for upgradation to better choices/streams and that the same could not be treated as admission. On the contrary, the registration fee deposited by the candidate is a token of acceptance of the offer of admission made to him/her. Since all the candidates were required to deposit the registration fee online, the petitioner herein was not required to deposit any amount upon reporting to respondent No.3/IIT-Madras for admission in terms of the allotment letter dated 10.07.2011. The said position is borne out from a perusal of Clause 1.10 itself.
13. Reliance placed by learned counsel for the petitioner on Annexure-II (page 22), which is a copy of the fee schedule dated 29.06.2011, to refute the aforesaid submission and claim that the petitioner was required to pay different items of fees and deposits, is misplaced for the reason that a bare perusal of the aforesaid document reveals that registration fee does not form a part of the aforesaid list. Rather, the said list enumerates the fees required to be paid by the candidates upon reporting for joining the course and the same is described under different heads including Admission Fee, Grade Card/Thesis Fee, Medical Exam fee, Modernization fee, Tuition fee, Examination fee etc.
14. Further, simply because the Brochure stipulated that the fee once paid would not be refunded and the petitioner has still received a refund of Rs. 19,000/- from the respondent while a non- refundable fee of Rs. 1,000/- has been deducted, in terms of Clause 1.6 of the Brochure cannot be held against the respondent and it does not mean that the petitioner can wriggle out of the conditions prescribed in Clause 1.10. The very fact that a sum of Rs. 1,000/- was required to be paid by candidates as counseling fee also demolishes the claim of the petitioner that an additional amount was required to be paid by him in the second counseling, and therefore it could not be assumed that he had taken admission in JEE-2011. Any such deduction drawn by the petitioner runs contrary to the terms and conditions prescribed in Clause 1.6 and 1.10.
15. The Court also finds merit in the submission made by learned counsel for the respondents that the aforesaid eligibility criteria has been stipulated by the respondents to ensure that the same acts as a deterrent for candidates, who having once qualified in JEE-2011, seek to withdraw from the seat allocated to them, as any such attempt on their part results in an immense financial strain upon the Institute, which would have to keep a seat vacant not just in the first year but right through the course that may extend upto 5 years as in the present case. That apart, the course in question is extremely prestigious and every seat is precious and cannot be permitted to be wasted in such a manner.
16. It is also relevant to note that in the present proceedings, the petitioner has not assailed the terms and conditions of the Counselling Brochure. Having failed to do so, he cannot be permitted to question the same, by trying to give it an interpretation which runs contrary to the clear terminology used in the relevant clauses. The Court is also not oblivious to the fact that the IIT JEE 2012 is to be held on 8.4.2012 for which the Application Forms of the candidates were required to reach the Zonal IIT as long back as on 15.12.2011. It is therefore not acceptable for the petitioner to approach the Court just about a week before the dated fixed for the examination, when even as per his own case, he had submitted his application form on 12.11.2011 after reading the eligibility conditions laid down in the Brochure. Moreover, no explanation, much less a plausible explanation has been offered by the petitioner for failing to report to IIT (Madras) on 26.7.2011, in terms of the seat allotment letter issued to him on 10.07.2011.
17. For all the aforesaid reasons, the Court declines to exercise its powers of judicial review in favour of the petitioner. The petition is accordingly dismissed in limine.