Govt fee for 50 percent seats in private medical colleges: Supreme Court to hear matter on October 21
New Delhi: While considering the plea challenging the National Medical Commission's order for implementing Government fees in private medical colleges, the Supreme Court decided on last Friday that the matter would be heard next on October 21, 2022.Initially, while considering the matter, the top court bench comprising of Justice Chandrachud doubted the validity of the Office Memorandum of...
New Delhi: While considering the plea challenging the National Medical Commission's order for implementing Government fees in private medical colleges, the Supreme Court decided on last Friday that the matter would be heard next on October 21, 2022.
Initially, while considering the matter, the top court bench comprising of Justice Chandrachud doubted the validity of the Office Memorandum of NMC that has been challenged.
The bench noted, "How can you say fee in 50% of the seats in private medical colleges will be at par with Govt. medical colleges?"
The issue concerns the Office Memorandum issued by NMC back in February 2022. In that order, the Apex medical body had clarified that the fees of 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges would be at par with government medical colleges of that particular State/UT.
"After extensive consultations, it has been decided that the fee of the 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges and deemed universities should be at par with the fee in the government medical colleges of that particular State and UT. The benefit of this fee structure would be first made available to those candidates who have availed government quota seats, but are limited to the extent of 50 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of the respective medical college/deemed university," NMC had mentioned in the notification.
"However, if the government quota seats are less than 50 per cent of total sanctioned seats, the remaining candidates would avail the benefit of a fee equivalent to the government medical college fees, based purely on the merit," the Commission had added.
While such a move definitely brought relief to a section of medical aspirants who choose to leave India and move abroad for cheaper medical education, such a rule fails to take into consideration the plights of the private medical college managements who pay lakhs and crores of money to set up the infrastructure.
Therefore, upset with the NMC order, the management of private medical colleges had urged the Union Health Ministry to direct NMC for withdrawing the diktat. The Apex medical body, however, did not withdraw its decision and consequently, a host of private medical colleges and deemed to be universities had approached the Madras HC seeking relief. Similar pleas were made before other High Courts and the Supreme Court as well.
Previously, while considering similar pleas, the Kerala High Court had clarified that the concerned Fee order will not be applicable in Kerala. Similarly, the Madras High Court had asked NMC to reconsider its decision and issue fresh guidelines as necessary. In its order, the Madras HC expressed concern over the possibility of several seats going vacant because of the high fees in the other 50 percent seats in the self-financed institutes.
Association Of Health Sciences Institutes (AHSI) had made the plea before the Supreme Court and argued that the top court in various judgments had reiterated the fact that the method for fixing the fees, would be subject to considering various guidelines such as facilities available in the college, infrastructure, age of investment made, plans for expansion, etc.
In their plea, the association highlighted, "BECAUSE the Impugned OM is entirely arbitrary, ultra-vires and unconstitutional. It has no existence in the eyes of law. It is contrary to the declarations made by this Hon'ble Court prohibiting any such stipulations which have been sought to be imposed by the Respondent on the fundamental rights guaranteed to the private unaided educational institutions such as the Petitioner, under Part III of the Constitution of India."
Challenging the NMC fee order, the association had contended that the private unaided institutions can fix the fees being charged annually from the students. However, this fee fixation gets monitored by the Fee Committee in order to ensure that there is no profiteering and the fee charged. This way, the private unaided institutions can get back the expenditure spent along with reasonable profit / surplus for its expansions.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, the counsel for the petitioner association, Senior Advocate Mr. Maninder Singh informed the bench comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli that already Kerala High Court, Madhya Pradesh High Court and Madras High Court have stayed the NMC Office Memorandum and therefore claimed that the concerned OM of NMC is "questionable". He also submitted that the Madras High Court had found the notification to be 'bad in law' and therefore remanded it back to the regulator.
At this outset, Mr. Singh further informed the bench that since the NMC notification got stayed by the High Courts in their respective states, the petitioners were contrained to approach the High Court seeking relief for the medical colleges across the country.
While the bench doubted the validity of the OM of the NMC, the bench of Justice Chandachud suggested the NMC counsel Advocate Gaurav Sharma to file for a transfer of petition to that all the matters in this connection can get consolidated and transferred by the Apex Court to the Delhi High Court or any other High Court for disposal.
However, responding to this, the counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Singh contended that the concerned OM of NMC contradicts three Constitution Bench judgments which have specified the law in this regard. He also submitted that the decisions take by the Courts cannot be undone by any law.
With these arguments, the counsel for the NMC urged the Apex Court for considering the matter without transferring them. The top court bench has listed the matter for further hearing on October 21, 2022.
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.