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College pockets Rs 45 lakh in refundable deposits: RTI

Former students claim that over a 10-year period, library, laboratory and caution money deposits were not refunded to them; file RTI query to procure details of the funds collected 
 
In the elation of securing admission to a college of their choice, students often forget to check that the miscellaneous fees and deposits paid to the institution are actually refundable.

These deposits are taken by the institute as a cover in the event of any breakages or damage to the facility caused by the student. And these deposits are refundable after completion of the course, however a majority of students are unaware that they are entitled to the refund.


Money matters: Sudhir Singh, a former student of Ramniranjan
Jhunjhunwala College in Ghatkopar, filed an RTI. Pics/Datta Kumbhar 
and Shadab Khan


Deciding to get back what is theirs, former students of Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala (RJ) College in Ghatkopar, who were aware of the entitlement, approached the management to claim the refundable deposit. Surprisingly, their request to the college administrators was met with uncooperativeness. Fed up with the tactics of the management, ex-students who were made to run from pillar to post to recover their security deposit exposed the college through an RTI query.

The students informed that the authorities had collected deposits -- Rs 250 Library, Rs 400 Laboratory and Rs 150 caution money -- from them along with the admission fees. Under duress due to the delay in recovering the money, Sudhir Singh, a former student, filed an RTI query and found that the college had collected nearly Rs 45 lakh as deposits over a decade.

RTI revelations
In August this year, Singh sought information through an RTI, querying why the management is not refunding the students' money. But the management refrained from giving him a reply. On October 1, Singh then appealed to a higher authority in the college. A week later, the college replied that the management had refunded money to all those students, who have asked for a refund. The authorities also presented a list of 14,000 students who had paid deposits to the college. However, more than 30 per cent of the students did not receive their dues, which means that the college had pocketed approximately Rs 45 lakh in the last 10 years. 

"I had also demanded information of the last 15 years, but the college replied with details of only 10 years. I also requested for pass book details or bank statements, but the college didn't adhere to my request," said Singh.

"It's shocking and shameful for our educational system that the college is not interested in refunding the money. The college should be investigated and action should be taken against those guilty of misappropriation," added Singh.

Following the RTI revelation, on November 23, Singh wrote (copy with MiD DAY) to the education minister, state education minister, governor and the vice-chancellor of Mumbai University to look into the matter.

The other side
"Every thing is on record. As per government guidelines, we wait for three years for the students to claim the deposit. After that we expend the unclaimed money to the college. We have all the necessary documents. The amount is clearly stated in the government audit, departmental audit and personal audit. After we denied Singh admission for not fitting into our rules, he is taking revenge," said Rajendra Singh, trustee of the college.

Ex-students speak
"I was not aware of the refundable fee. After learning about the refund, I approached the college. They asked me for the original fee receipt. Unfortunately, it was misplaced and the management refused to refund the deposit," said Vinay Mishra, a Bachelor of Arts graduate, who passed out in 2004-05.

Another BSc student who passed out in 2009 said, "When I asked for the refund, the college authorities told me that they will put up a list on the board. But no such list was put up for a long time. I approached the college thrice and they asked me to get my original fee receipt. I told them that I have a copy of the original receipt, but they refused to acknowledge it."

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