Fix 'non-exploitative' MBBS Fee structure for Kerala Private Medical Colleges within 4 weeks: SC to Fee Regulatory Committee
New Delhi: Granting the Fee Regulatory Committee with an extension of four weeks, the Supreme Court directed it to fix "non-exploitative and reasonable" fee for MBBS course at the private medical colleges in Kerala after due consultation with the college managements.
Such an observation came from the Apex Court bench comprising of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai as it took note of the fact that due to COVID and non-cooperation, the earlier Fenruary 25 order of the Apex Court couldn't be complied with, where the top court had directed the Committee to fix the fees from 2017-18 onwards.
"The direction issued on 25 February 2021 could not be complied with view of non cooperation. In addition covid has also been the reason for tasks not being completed in the time. In particular facts & circumstances of the case we grant 4 weeks from today to the committee to complete the exercise. Till then extension shall be granted," the Court was quoted noting by Live Law.
The issue of MBBS fees at the self-financing medical colleges in Kerala had been under consideration of the High Court and Supreme Court for quite some time as the medical college administration were not happy with the fees fixed by the Committee whereas the parents of the students had been complaining about the high fees demanded by the colleges.
The Kerala government had approached the Apex Court aggrieved with the HC direction to the Committee for examining the audited balance sheets only to consider if the expenditure shown by the managements should be excluded or not.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that when the matter came for consideration before the Supreme Court bench, the top court in consideration with the previous High Court order, had asked the Fee Regulatory Committee (FRC) to fix a reasonable fee for the private medical institutions in the State from the academic year 2017-18 onwards. "Regulation of fee is within the domain of the Committee which shall ensure that the fee is non-exploitative and reasonable," the bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao had opined.
"We direct the Committee to expeditiously reconsider the proposals of the private selffinancing colleges for fee fixation from 2017-18 onwards. Needless to mention that fee for earlier years also needs to be finalized in case it has not been done in respect of any college. It can direct the managements to furnish any information that is required for the purpose of arriving at a decision that the fee proposed by the managements is neither excessive nor exploitative in nature. A reasonable opportunity should be given to the managements of private self-financing colleges in respect of their proposals for fee fixation," the Apex Court had held on February 25.
Finally, disposing of the petition, the SC bench had further directed to complete the entire process within a period of three months and added, "A reasonable opportunity should be given to the managements of private self-financing colleges in respect of their proposals for fee fixation."
At that time, the top court had also held that the High Court had committed an error in directing the Committee to take into the account only audited balance sheets, and provisional profit and loss accounts in the absence of audited balance sheets, to fix the fee.
"Though we are in agreement with the submission made on behalf of the managements that the fee as proposed by them should be considered by the Committee, it is no more res integra that the right conferred on the institutions to fix fee for professional courses is subject to regulation," the bench had said.
Later, on June 4, 2021 as well, the Supreme Court had granted 4 months time to the Committee.
"Having regard to the circumstances pleaded, four months time as prayed for is granted to the applicant Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee for Medical Education in Kerala for fixation of fees of the respondent private medical colleges for the MBBS Course from the academic year 201718 onwards. The Miscellaneous Application is disposed of accordingly," the bench was quoted observing by Live Law.
However, the February 25 order of the Supreme Court couldn't be complied till now, and recently after the Kerala Government has instructed the professional colleges in the State not to increase their fees considering the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the management of the self-financing medical colleges in the State started planning to approach the High Court to seek legal help regarding the matter.
Meanwhile, taking note of the fact that the earlier order couldn't be complied with due to non-cooperation and COVID-19, the Apex Court bench granted the Fee Regulatory Committee a period of 4 weeks time for fixing the fees in the private medical colleges in Kerala after due consultation with the management of private medical colleges.
"The Court on February 25, 2021, had directed the Fee Regulatory Committee for Medical Education in Kerala to consider self financing of medical colleges. Exercise had to be completed within a period of 3 months from that date. The Fee Regulatory Committee for Medical Education in Kerala is seeking extension of time. The direction issued on 25 February 2021 could not be complied with view of non cooperation. In addition covid has also been the reason for tasks not being completed in the time. In particular facts & circumstances of the case we grant 4 weeks from today to the committee to complete the exercise. Till then extension shall be granted," the Court was quoted observing by Live Law.