The Supreme Court directed that the management of private medical colleges are strictly prohibited from accepting payment of fees in cash.
The Court noticed its earlier judgments which have dealt with the imperative need to curb the practice of levying capitation fee. In spite of repeated directions issued by the Court to stop the menace of capitation fee, the Court observed that the hard reality of charging exorbitant capitation fee was very much prevalent. When it was brought to the notice of the Court that there is a legislation in the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to curb the menace of charging capitation fee, the Court expressed its concern that in spite of the legislations, the said practice has not been effectively stopped. In order to put in place effective measures to end the practice of charging capitation fee, Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, was appointed as Amicus Curiae to make a detailed analysis of the problem and suggest an appropriate mechanism by which the charging of capitation fee can be stalled.
A direction was given to the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to furnish required information to the learned Amicus Curiae, especially regarding complaints received, action taken report and any other data available on the aspect of levying capitation fee. Mohit Kumar Shah, Advocate-on-Record was requested to assist the Amicus Curiae and was directed to create a website wherein email address and postal address could be furnished exclusively to gather more information from the public at large who were/are directly affected and who have relevant information relating to the collection of capitation fee.
Pursuant to the order, the Amicus Curiae filed an interim status report in which it was stated that the situation in the State of Karnataka has improved considerably subsequent to the directions and pronouncements of the Court.
The Court was informed by the Amicus Curiae that a list of queries was forwarded to the States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra for their responses on certain material aspects. In the light of comments and reports of the State Governments, it was suggested by the Amicus Curiae that a response of the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India to the comments of State Governments should be obtained.
In the said Status Report, the Amicus Curiae stated that “From preliminary discussions it appears that the legal structure put in place as a result of the judgments of the Supreme Court continue to suffer some unregulated areas such as the admissions made by selffinancing colleges and Deemed universities.
There is a feeling of lack of adequate transparency in the matter of entrance examinations conducted by groups of institutions that form associations for the purpose of conducting entrance examinations. Attempts to shed light on this such as a PIL filed before the Hon’ble Madras High Court did not reach any productive solution as no complainants were willing to come forward. This remains a major impediment in implementation of the legal regime as candidates do not wish to jeopardise their careers.”
Another point made by the counsel relates to fee that is charged by the private medical colleges in the guise of additional charges such as establishment fee, room rents/hostel fee, mess fee, bus fee, library fee, laboratory fee, internet charges, special posting fee etc. It was suggested that the Fee Fixation Committees in the State should fix a price band for different expenses and the colleges should be directed not to charge any amount from students in addition to the prices that are fixed by the Fee Fixation Committee.
The division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B. R. Gavai saw force in the submission made by the counsel on this behalf.
The court said that the Fee Fixation Committees have to fix the fee without leaving any scope for the managements of private medical colleges to charge any additional fee which is not part of the fee fixed by the Committees.
The court made it clear that the Fee Fixation Committees have to take into account all components of fee proposed to be charged by the Management while determining the fee to be paid by the students.
The court directed that a web-portal under the aegis of Supreme Court has to be set-up wherein any information about the private medical colleges charging capitation fees can be furnished by the students. The webportal has to be maintained and regulated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
The court further directed the Chief Secretaries of the States and Union Territories to publish the details about the web-portal in the English as well as vernacular newspapers at the time of admission. In addition, a pamphlet should be compulsorily given to the students and their parents at the time of counselling informing them about the availability of the web-portal.
Case title: Rashtreeya Sikshana Samithi Trust Etc. v/s Committee For Fixation of Fee Structure of Private Professional Colleges & Ors. Etc.
Citation: Civil Appeal Nos. 3978-3995 of 2017