Private Medical Colleges call NMC Fee order arbitrary, HC concerned over admission of unworthy candidates
New Delhi: While considering the pleas filed by private medical colleges, claiming the National Medical Commission's (NMC) fee order for 50% medical seats as arbitrary, null & void, the Madras High Court recently expressed concern over the instances of admitting unworthy candidates for only monetary gain.Referring to such practices by the private medical colleges, the HC bench comprising...
New Delhi: While considering the pleas filed by private medical colleges, claiming the National Medical Commission's (NMC) fee order for 50% medical seats as arbitrary, null & void, the Madras High Court recently expressed concern over the instances of admitting unworthy candidates for only monetary gain.
Referring to such practices by the private medical colleges, the HC bench comprising of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala observed, "Any other course, we can compromise. But if we're compromising on medicine, we're compromising on ourselves."
The High Court bench has decided to consider the matter concerning the NMC fee order for the 50% seats on August 16, 2022.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that complaining about the NMC Fee order for the 50% seats in the private medical colleges, the institutes and deemed to be universities had approached the Madras High Court.
In the concerned Fee order issues back in February 2022, NMC 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," it added.
However, no matter how promising this sounds to the medical aspirants, who choose to leave India and move abroad for cheaper medical education, such a rule fails to take into consideration the plights if 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 earlier approached the Union Health Ministry seeking directions upon NMC to withdraw the diktat. In fact, the colleges had expressed their decision of moving to the court as well, challenging the NMC fee order.
As NMC did not withdraw its decision, recently a host of private medical colleges and deemed to be universities approached the Madras High Court seeking relief.
In their plea, the colleges challenged the Constitutional validity of Section 10 (1) (i) of the National Medical Commission Act of 2019 under which NMC had issued the concerned office memorandum regarding the fee at private medical colleges. Praying the court to quash the concerned memorandum, the senior counsel for one of the institutes, Vijay Narayan informed the court about the heavily subsidized fee in the government medical colleges and pointed out that it would be impossible for the private medical institutes to charge similar amount of fees for 50% of their total seats.
One of the colleges argued that NMC had violated the fundamental right for establishing or administering medical institutes secured under Article 19(1) (g). The college also contended that the NMC direction would result in discrimination in the fee structure since the students pursuing medical education in 50% of the seats would have to bear the cost of education for the other half of students.
During the hearing of the case, Senior Advocate Vijay Narayan, the counsel for the petitioners submitted before the court that allowing such powers in the hands of NMC would result in the nationalization of private educational institutes. He argued that such a step would be against the precedents set by the Apex Court which had repeatedly pointed out that if a private medical college chooses not taking any aid from the Government, it should have the power for determining the scale of fee it can charge, subject to the fact that collection of capitation fee or profiteering have been prohibited.
In fact, the petitioners further argued that the concerned office memorandum by NMC, determining the fees for private medical colleges was arbitrary, null and void, even if the Section 10(1)(i) of the NMC Act was held as valid.
The petitioner colleges pointed out that while the NMC Act empowered the Commission for framing 'guidelines' to determine the fees in the 50% of private medical college seats, NMC lacked the power to "decide" the fee by itself.
It was further submitted that the fee charged in the Government medical colleges was heavily subsidized and therefore, the counsel for the colleges argued that it would be impossible for the private medical institutes to charge similar amount of fees for 50% of their total seats. The colleges pointed out that they were completely reliant upon the income through the fees collected from the students for running the institutes.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, while considering the matter, the HC bench comprising of the Chief Justice referred to the instances where private medical colleges admit unworthy candidates solely for the purpose of monetary gain. Expressing concern over this, the bench observed, "Any other course, we can compromise. But if we're compromising on medicine, we're compromising on ourselves."
At this outset, the Chief Justice also referred to an instance where a candidate who had secured one mark in the state-level entrance examination had been admitted in a private medical college on the basis of the marks he had obtained in a private entrance examination.
While the charge of investigation in that case had been taken up by the CBI, the court expressed its disappointment over the fact that the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI), now NMC had not taken any action against the concerned college.
The matter concerning the NMC fee order for the 50% seats in the Private medical colleges and deemed to be universities would be heard next on August 16, 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 email@example.com.