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Matter of MBBS fee at private Medical Colleges: NMC asks SC to transfer and consolidate all pleas
NMC seeks to transfer and consolidate pleas challenging Fee Order, SC issues notice
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has recently issued notice in a petition filed by the National Medical Commission (NMC) seeking transfer and consolidation of pleas challenging the validity of the NMC fee order mandating government fees for 50 percent seats in private medical colleges.It has been urged by the Apex medical commission to transfer all the similar challenges pending before...
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has recently issued notice in a petition filed by the National Medical Commission (NMC) seeking transfer and consolidation of pleas challenging the validity of the NMC fee order mandating government fees for 50 percent seats in private medical colleges.
It has been urged by the Apex medical commission to transfer all the similar challenges pending before different High Courts to a bench of Supreme Court or any other High Court.
While considering the matter, a Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli has issued notice in the matter. Therefore, the transfer plea, the main plea challenging the NMC fee order and all the connected matters have been listed for further hearing on November 4, 2021.
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.
Also Read: Govt fee for 50 percent seats in private medical colleges: Supreme Court to hear matter on October 21
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.
Naturally, the NMC fee order met with opposition from the management of private medical colleges who had urged the Union Health Ministry for withdrawing the diktat. Since NMC did not withdraw the same, the order came to be challenged before the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
It is the Association of Health Sciences Institutes (AHSI) that has challenged the NMC fee notification before the Supreme Court. As per the latest media report by Live Law, during the last hearing of the case, the top court bench comprising of Justice Chandrachud had suggested the counsel for NMC, Advocate Gaurav Sharma to file a transfer petition so that the Supreme Court can consolidate all the connected matters together and transfer to the Delhi High Court or any other High Court for disposal. Accordingly, NMC has filed the transfer plea.
While considering the matter, the Supreme Court bench has issued notice in the matter and listed all the pleas- the transfer plea, the main plea and other connected matters for further hearing on November 04, 2021.
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."
The plea further mentioned, "….provisions of NMC Act, including Section 10(1)(i) thereof, NMC has not been empowered to fix the fee or fix any such stipulation having the mandatory effect of reintroducing the features of the Unni Krishnan Scheme [where 50% of the students are to be charged only the Government fee, which was held to be unconstitutional] and to not to allow the unaided private institutions to recover the fee fixed by Fee Committees from all the students in a uniform manner so as to recover its expenditure and also a reasonable profit / surplus for its expansion."
"...this Hon'ble Court having held the right of each private unaided institution to recover all its expenditure and reasonable surplus / profit in imparting the higher education from the students, 49 there is no permissibility to the State or any of its agency to venture into imposing any restriction and / or prohibition of any manner in this behalf……Each institution is entitled to recover annual fee on that basis from each of the students admitted in the college [other than the NRI seats]. The State cannot interfere in any manner whatsoever on this behalf," it added.
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.
To read the Supreme Court order, click on the link below:
Also Read: NMC Fee Order: Centre Seeks Two weeks' time to submit counter affidavit
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 email@example.com.