A scientist employed at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has won Rs 10 lakh as damages from Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, which discontinued midway a course for which he had taken study-leave. Vipin Kumar Choudhary, who works as scientist (computer applications) with ICAR's project directorate on cattle at Meerut, had signed a bond of Rs 6 lakh before enrolling for the M Tech-Ph D (computer science) course in 2003.
The district consumer disputes redressal forum has asked the Bhopal-based University to pay the bond money, along with interest, as and when ICAR seeks to recover it from Choudhary. Since Choudhary could not complete his Ph D for which he had taken leave, he will have to pay the bond money.
The 39-year-old had enrolled for the university's newly introduced course in response to an advertisement, which said he could pursue it either at Noida or Bhopal. The doctorate would have enabled an early promotion for Choudhary, an M Sc (computer science).
"I had to shift to Bhopal because the university said it was unable to conduct the course at Noida," Choudhary said. He took a three-and-a-half year study-leave (paid) and temporarily shifted to Bhopal with his family. When he submitted his M Tech thesis to the university in January 2006 the university told him that it was unable to continue the Ph D course due to "some administrative reasons".
Using the RTI route, Choudhary got the university to admit that it had no faculty with a Ph D in its computer science department and this was the reason for not continuing the course. Choudhary was the only Ph D candidate then. The university has since withdrawn the M Tech-Ph D course.
Choudhary moved the consumer forum arguing that instead of getting a new faculty, the university chose to discontinue the course. The university's decision, he argued, cost him an opportunity to advance his career. Also, he will not be able to take study-leave for another five years. He had paid legal fee to a retired Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court who opined that the university should have followed the UGC guidelines.
The university argued that the complainant was not a consumer as he did not pay for the degree and that there was no element of service involved. It claimed that Choudhary did not complete his M Tech in two years and did not register for Ph D in time. It argued that the complainant had been told that the admission to Ph D was not automatic.
Forum president A K Tiwari and member Upam Rai noted that unlike the complainant, the university did not submit any documentary evidence in support. After going through some other documents, the forum noted that the university was not fair to the complainant.
Registrar Anil Dubey said the university had challenged the order in the state forum.
Choudhary said that ICAR was yet to initiate the process to recover the bond money from him because he had kept it posted about the consumer case. He joined duty a year ago.