The Madras High Court today struck down as unconstitutional a 2014 Tamil Nadu government act that prohibited establishment of private law colleges in the state. The court was allowing a batch of petitions seeking to declare the Tamil Nadu Establishment of Private Law Colleges (Prohibition) Act, 2014, as illegal and ultra vires the Constitution.
Referring to the Supreme Court judgment in the TMA Pai foundation case, the high court said, “Suffice to say that there is a difference between restriction or regulation and absolute ban.”
“It is the latter, and that too for an indefinite period, which, in our considered view, would make this single object one section legislation invalid, as being ultra vires the Constitution of India, more specifically Article 19(1)(g),” it said.
Thus, there cannot be an absolute ban on opening of private educational institutions in view of the plethora of the law discussed aforesaid, it said.
The court directed the state government to pay a sum of Rs 20,000 as cost to Vanniar Educational Trust, whose application for setting up a law college in Tindivanam and affiliation to the Dr Ambedkar Law University was rejected in 2015 on the ground that the act had come into force from September 2014.
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Finding fault with the university for rejecting the affiliation plea, the court said it had fallen into a complete error by intimating the petitioner that in view of the bar under the act, affiliation process could not be completed.
“The University was only required to see that the Affiliation and Approval of Law Colleges Revised Regulations, 2013 were complied with and the issues that had been raised in support of the same have been stated to be complied with by the petitioner. That compliance alone had to be considered by the university,” it observed.
The court directed the university to process the petitioner’s case for affiliation in terms of Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University Affiliation and Approval of Law Colleges Revised Regulations, 2013, on merits within four weeks from receipt of the order.