HC stays Regulatory Commission's order of Rs 45 lakh penalty on Varsity, Medical College, refund of Rs 103.96 crore excess fee
"Transparency, academic audit and integrity would be pursued in letter and in spirit and such decisions would motivate students to raise their voice against malpractices," stated the June 9 order by the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPERC).
Shimla: In a major turn of events, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has stayed the June 9 order by the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPERC) by which the Maharishi Markandeshwar University and Markandeshwar Medical College and Hospital were directed to pay Rs 45 lakh as penalty and refund around Rs 103.96 crore that they had charged as an excess...
Shimla: In a major turn of events, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has stayed the June 9 order by the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPERC) by which the Maharishi Markandeshwar University and Markandeshwar Medical College and Hospital were directed to pay Rs 45 lakh as penalty and refund around Rs 103.96 crore that they had charged as an excess fee from MBBS students studying at the medical college from the academic years 2012 to 2020.
The order was expected to bring huge relief to all such MBBS students.
The June 9 dated order to this effect passed by the Chairman of HPPERC, Major General Atul Kaushik (Retd) stated, "Maharishi Markandeshwar University and its affiliated Markandeshwar Medical College and hospital Kummerhati in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh charged an excess fee to the tune of Rs.103,96,53,000 from batch of around 100 students who were enrolled in MBBS course during 2012 to 2020."
The commission was moved by two complaints by Dr Nividita Rao from Bilaspur and Dr Yamini from Zirakpur in Punjab concerning the excessive fee charged by the said private institutions.
In their petition, the doctors had stated they took admission in the MBBS course during the academic session 2013-14 and the tuition fee was charged for five years instead of four and half years by the Maharishi Markandeshwar University and Markandeshwar Medical College and Hospital without having the approval of the state government. Other allegations of excess charges under different heads were also made before the commission.
While issuing the directions, the commission after going through the records submitted by the institutions found that the university and the medical college have charged an excess amount of Rs 6,05,500 from Dr Nividita and Rs 8,95,500 from Dr Yamini, amounting to Rs 15.01 lakh as tuition fee, hostel fee, university charges and developmental charges.
During the hearings, the institutes had denied the allegations of charging an excess fee from students and submitted that HPPERC had been scrapped by the high court of Himachal Pradesh in the judgment dated October 19, 2013, and the present complaint was not maintainable before the Commission.
They contended during the court proceedings that they are entitled to charge a fee for five years for the MBBS course students. It was further submitted by the institutes that the complainant doctors had failed to complete their MBBS course in the provided four-and-a-half years and had to appear in the examinations of remaining papers during the next session 2018-19 in accordance with the erstwhile Medical Council of India, MCI rules.
Then it was pointed out that the Director of Medical Education and Research is not the fee structure authority and in the prospectus for the admission to MBBS Course for batch 2013-14, it has been mentioned explicitly that the candidate must pass the first professional to final professional within the prescribed tenure of the course, failing which extra fee at prescribed rates will have to be paid.
Deliberating the matter that time, the regulatory commission had found the Maharishi Markandeshwar University and Markandeshwar Medical College and Hospital guilty of charging an excess fee to the tune of Rs 103.97 crore from around 1200 MBBS students admitted during the 2012-2020 academic years.
As per Section 11 of the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory Commission) Act, 2010, and rule 6 (b), the commission imposed a penalty of Rs 45 lakh on the respondent private educational institutions.
Major General Atul Kaushik (retd), Chairman, of the regulatory commission HPPERC said in the order:
"The excess fee of around Rs 103.97 crore charged from 1,200 students was calculated on the basis of the documents submitted by the MMU and the government agencies and the decision was passed today after numerous hearings over the past one year. The students may approach the university/college for the refund of the excess fees paid"
He had stated that even the Supreme Court had pointed out that students were forced to go abroad to pursue MBBS due to the high cost of medical courses in our country.
"Transparency, academic audit and integrity would be pursued in letter and in spirit and such decisions would motivate students to raise their voice against malpractices," he had said.
Now, putting a stay on the regulatory commission's order, the Division Bench of Chief Justice AA Sayed and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua issued notice to the HPPEIRC and the Director of Higher Education and directed them to file their replies within four weeks.
According to a UNI report, the order was passed by the bench on the Civil Writ Petition filed before the High court on July 19 by MMU and others challenging order of HPPEIRC Shimla.
The varsity sought quashing of the order on the ground that the same is unsustainable in the eyes of law for the lack of quorum, as it was passed by the commission chairman only while as per the provisions of the HPPEIRC Act, the commission shall consist of the Chairperson and a member, reports Tribune.
Considering the plea, the bench said, "In as much as the jurisdiction of the Commission in respect of levy of excess fee and penalty is questioned, court direct that till the next date, the impugned order dated 9.6.2022 should stand stayed."
Garima joined Medical Dialogues in the year 2017 and is currently working as a Senior Editor. She looks after all the Healthcare news pertaining to Medico-legal cases, MCI/DCI decisions, Medical Education issues, government policies as well as all the news and updates concerning Medical and Dental Colleges in India. She is a graduate from Delhi University and pursuing MA in Journalism and Mass Communication. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Contact no. 011-43720751