Addressing the monetary fiasco:Caution Money
Smruti Sudha Biswal | Sep 10, 2018
As a part of every normal admission fees, caution money is that amount of refundable money that a student has to pay for using the services of the institution and, which shall not be returned in case any harm has been rendered to the property of the institution. In the recent past, Students graduated from 2016 batch face unprecedented delays and hitches in obtaining the Caution Money. The procedure for refunding the desired amount of money to the students bore a disordered algorithm. Team Monday Morning brings you the facets of the story.
There was sheer dissatisfaction hovering among the graduated students mass of NITR. The authorities concerned turned deaf ears to all means of communication when they were approached by a bunch of students. They even carried out the desired procedure, supporting their grievances with all the requisite documents, as instructed by the officials. The officials approached included both the Assistant Registrar (Finance) and Assistant Registrar (Academic). After getting a disheartening response, students filed RTIs addressing their queries like how much of the interest money was being generated as a result of the money not being refunded and what steps had been taken by the institute to accelerate the process.
The eligible amount of money that should have been disbursed to the student populace has been delayed for a long time. For a particular batch of graduate students, the money should have been given within 6 months at most. But to the students' dismay, the disbursement was delayed for an indefinite period of time until students had to approach the authorities to claim for their right. There are no efforts even from the institute’s part to ensure that the money reaches the students in time. Negligence has been most commonly seen in this case. The institute does not have the account details of the students. Sometimes they even ask students to come to the institute in order to complete some important procedures. This becomes highly inconvenient for many who have been posted at faraway places from Rourkela due to various assignments or job. These are some of the things which the institute should take care of. Moreover, for students who were given the caution money, no details of the deducted amount was mentioned. There was no bill mentioning for which purpose how much money had been deducted. This kept students in ambiguity.
On being asked about the matter to one of the alumni of the 2016 batch Archit Acharya, he says
I approached the authorities regarding the status of caution money reimbursement. There was no response from the other side. As a result of which, I had to resort to the method of filing RTIs. I filed 3 RTIs to go deeper into what was happening, why the entire thing was getting so delayed. I then received cheques which were bounced. It was really dissatisfying because they were sending cheques from those accounts which did not bear cash at all, and that is why the cheques had bounced. I had to again file an RTI, following which I finally received a valid cheque bearing the caution money amount.
Other alumni of the institute, Snehashish Hota of 2017 batch says
I graduated in May 2017 and was convocated in January 2018, but there has been no news of caution money yet. According to the institute’s policy, the caution money is deposited in the bank account mentioned by you in your NITRIS portal. It was intimated through webmail to update your bank account details for this purpose. No reason was communicated by the Institute for the delay.
The response received mentioned that there was a separate fund dealing with the caution money issues and that they would be sending the cheques by the month of March or April. The cheques were finally sent. But to the students’ dismay, the students had received bounced cheques. Following which, a Right to Information(RTI) was filed complaining about this issue, to which the Public Relations officer responded. He stated that, if their cheques had bounced, they were required to send the cheque back to NITR, also mentioning the amount that was supposed to have been refunded. The students did as they were instructed and finally, their long unheard grievances were answered too.
Authorities Speak :
To know exactly what caused such a chaos, team MM went to the Registrar Mr.Santosh Kumar Upadhyay to get the details regarding the issue. He was asked about why the process was so delayed that students from 2016 batch had to get their money in 2018. Moreover, the entire process was quite cumbersome. When asked about the RTI responses, Registrar Mr.Santosh Kumar Upadhyay says:
There is a hierarchy in the RTI system. We have got the Public Information Officer (PIO). He is supposed to reply within a month. If you do not get a reply within a month, you can appeal to the First Appellate Authority. One can go through the entire procedure and write it to the First Appellate Authority on not getting a reply.
On being further enquired about the matter, he says:
The convocation takes place on every 3rd Saturday of January the following year. The caution money is refunded after the convocation, having adjusted all the remaining dues. There was a decision taken that out of the caution money, Rs 1000 will go for the Alumni Relation fund and other Rs 1000 will go to the Institute fund. There might be a delay in the deduction process, but as soon as it is sorted out, the money is refunded. We have already talked with the finance department to expedite out any further delays in this. If still there is any sort of underlying issue, I’ll definitely look into the matter and try to sort it out.
According to few of the alumni, the entire process can be done online, rather than calling students from far off places just to clear out some procedures. The process should be accelerated without causing any sort of ambiguity. For many students, 5000 INR does not matter, but that does not give a reason to the institute to delay the disbursement of the money.
It is a sorry state of affairs that students had to go through such a tedious process in order to claim for the money which they ought to get. Some of them preferred not to run from pillar to post claiming for the caution money and just left it off. Such incidents should be avoided in near future. It has been assured that the matter will be looked into and all sorts of loopholes will be worked upon.