Higher fees only for NRI category: HC
Frowning upon the practice of private medical colleges charging exorbitant fees from students gaining admission under the management quota, as compared to those admitted under the government quota, the Madras High Court held that there should not be any differentiation in the fee structure for students admitted under the two quotas. A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and C. Saravanan said, “The only discrimination that is permissible is regarding fees that can be charged from students admitted against the seats allocated under the NRI quota, which has been pegged at 15% of the total seats available in every medical institution.” Asserting that merit should not be given the go-by even while making admissions under the NRI quota, the judges said that the fees collected should be used only for subsidising education of students from economically weaker sections. Asserting that merit should not be given the go-by even while making admissions under the NRI quota, the judges said that the fees collected should be used only for subsidising education of students from economically weaker sections. Sounding a note of caution on the possibility of medical institutions misusing the NRI quota to make money, the Bench suggested that either the Assembly could pass a law to regulate such admissions or the government could issue executive instructions on the subject. “So long as the State does not do it, it will be for the fee fixation committees, constituted pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court in the Islamic Academy of Education case in 2003, to regulate,” the judges clarified, while ordering two private medical colleges in Puducherry to refund excess fees collected from students. Authoring the judgment, Justice Saravanan said that the need for constitution of fee fixation committees, headed by retired High Court judges, in every State and Union Territory of the country had arisen on account of the tendency of private colleges to charge exorbitant fees in their quest to commercialise higher education and generate profits. He recalled that the Supreme Court had, in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation case, said: “Since the object of setting up an educational institution is by definition ‘charitable’, it is clear that an educational institution cannot charge such a fee as is not required for the purpose of fulfilling that object. To put it differently, in the establishment of an educational institution, the object should not be to make a profit inasmuch as education is essentially charitable in nature. There can, however, be a reasonable revenue surplus which may be generated by the educational institution for the purpose of development of education and expansion of the institution.” Stating that the T.M.A. Pai Foundation judgment was revisited by the Supreme Court subsequently in two other judgments, including the one delivered in the Islamic Academy of Education case, the Division Bench pointed out that the judgment of the apex court in the P.A. Inamdar versus State of Maharashtra case governs the field at present. A cumulative reading of the three verdicts leads to the irresistible conclusion that private colleges are entitled to collect a reasonable fee, without profit motive, to meet administrative expenses and infrastructural needs and that there cannot be any discrimination between students admitted under government and management quotas, the judges said. “Higher fee amount can be collected only from students admitted from the NRI quota and such excess money collected from those students can be used for subsidizing the fees of students coming from the economically weaker sections of society. Once fee is fixed, approved by the committee concerned and notified, it cannot be tampered with,” they concluded.
‘Mgmt. quota students can’t be charged more’
Higher fees only for NRI category: HC