Apex Tribunal, in its judgment, clarifies the situation by upholding the wisdom of an HC order of February 28, 2019
Supreme Court on Thursday relieved Kerala’s students and self-funded private medical schools by ordering the State Admissions and Fees Regulatory Committee to consult with college principals and set ‘non-operating and reasonable’ fees from 2017-2018 for MBBS Studies.
A bench led by Judge L. Nageswara Rao asked the committee to complete the exercise in three months.
“The committee will reconsider the proposals of the direction of medical volleges for the fixing of the fees from 2017-18”, ordered the court.
3 rounds of litigation
The judgment is based on appeals from more than three rounds of litigation involving the state, private college principals and High Court students.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling, clarified matters by upholding the wisdom of a February 28, 2019 judgment from the High Court.
In 2019, the High Court asked the committee “to take a close look at the fees suggested by management to consider whether the proposed fees were excessive and to eliminate any element of profit or the collection of per capita charges.” The directorates were invited to cooperate with the committee in setting fees.
Judge Rao drew on the 2019 ruling by choosing not to delve into the merits of a college’s fee structure, but simply to abide by the fee setting principles set out in the 2017 law.
“Unassisted professional institutions have the autonomy to decide on the fees to be invoiced, provided that the fees do not lead to profit or the collection of fees by capitation. The regulation of costs is the responsibility of the committee, which must ensure that the costs are non-exploitable and reasonable, ”he explained.
Lack of clarity
The Supreme Court agreed with the High Court that the lack of clarity on the structure of MBBS fees at assisted and unaided private colleges was not beneficial to either institutions or students.
“Therefore, we ask the committee to quickly reconsider the proposals of the self-funded private colleges for setting fees from 2017-2018. Needless to say, the fees for previous years must also be finalized in case this has not been done with regard to a college, ”says the judgment.
The higher court said the committee could ask the college principals for the information necessary to reach a decision that the fees proposed by the principals were “excessive or exploitative in nature.”
Judge Rao said, “Reasonable opportunity should be given to the principals of self-funded private colleges regarding their fee setting proposals. The entire exercise will be completed within three months from today. “