Read Judgment: DENTAL COUNCIL OF INDIA v. BIYANI SHIKSHAN SAMITI & ANR 

Tulip Kanth

New Delhi, April 13, 2022: Holding that the amended Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New or Higher Course of Studies or Training and Increase of Admission Capacity in Dental Colleges) Regulations, 2006 has a direct nexus with the object of providing adequate teaching and training facilities to the students, the Supreme Court has observed that presumption is always with regard to the validity of a provision and the burden is on the party who challenges the validity of such provision.

Referring to its judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation and others vs. State of Karnataka and others, the Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai said, ”It can thus clearly be seen that the Constitution Bench itself has held that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated. However, such regulatory measures must, in general, be to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration.”

The Top Court was considering an appeal challenging the judgment of the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court allowing the writ petition filed on behalf of the first respondent-Biyani Shikshan Samiti and striking down the impugned Notification dated May 21, 2012 by which the appellant-Dental Council of India had substituted Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India Regulations, 2006 on the ground of the same being inconsistent with the provisions of the Dentists Act, 1948 and also being violative of Articles 14 and 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of India.

Herein, first respondent-Samiti had submitted an application to the Government of India for grant of permission for establishment of a dental college from academic year 2012-2013. The second respondent-Union of India noticed certain deficiencies in the respondent’s proposal and by a letter required the first respondent to cure the said deficiencies. Later, the second respondent returned the application of the first responden along with demand draft of Rs.6 lakh, on the ground that deficiencies pointed out were not cured prior to December 31, 2011, i.e., the last date for curing the deficiencies.In the meantime, the Government of Rajasthan issued Essentiality Certificate to the first respondent but the request of the first respondent for reconsideration of its proposal came to be rejected by the Union Of India- second respondent.

After the existing Regulation 6(2)(h) was substituted by amended Regulation 6(2)(h) through the impugned notification, the second respondent again returned first respondent’s proposal/ application saying that the same was was not in compliance with the amended Regulation 6(2)(h).

When the first respondent sought a direction to reconsider the application submitted by it for establishment of a new dental college for academic session 2017–2018 and also, challenged the order rejecting the request for reconsideration of its application before the single judge of the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court, the Single Judge dismissed the same. Thereafter, the Division Bench of the High Court allowed the said writ petition of the first respondent by striking down the impugned Notification and directing the second respondent to reconsider the case of the first respondent.Being aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was preferred by the Council.

At the outset, it was noted that the change brought by the impugned Notification is that, though under the unamended Regulation 6(2)(h), an applicant was entitled to apply if he/she/it owned and managed a General Hospital of not less than 100 beds but by the impugned Notification, it has been made mandatory that the applicant has to attach its proposed Dental College with the Government/Private Medical College, approved/recognized by the Medical Council of India, which is located at a distance of 10 kilometers by road from the proposed Dental College. The distance of 10 kilometers has now been increased to 30 kilometers, by the amendment dated July 5, 2017.

On the challenge to the validity of this regulation, the Division Bench was of the opinion that it is within the competence of the Council to make Regulations prescribing any other conditions, which are otherwise not found in clauses (a) to (f) of Sub-section (7) of Section 10A of the Dentists Act, 1948 and the first respondent had also failed to discharge the burden to show that the impugned Notification suffered from manifest arbitrariness.

The next issue pertained to the regulation violating Article 14 of the Constitution. The Division Bench of the High Court found the impugned Notification be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, on the ground that the Dental Colleges established prior to impugned Notification would not be required to be attached with the Medical Colleges, whereas, the Dental Colleges, established after the impugned Notification, will be compelled to be attached to such Medical Colleges.

The Top Court was of the considered view that the Colleges established prior to the impugned Notification and the Colleges established/to be established after the impugned Notification would form two separate classes. The differential treatment for different classes would not be hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The only requirement would be, as to whether such a classification has a nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Act.

According to the Apex Court, the factors taken into consideration by the Council, while amending Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Regulations are relevant factors as these factors had a nexus with the object sought to be achieved. The object to be achieved was to provide adequate teaching and training facilities to the students. If in the wisdom of the expert body, this could be done by attaching a Dental College to the already existing Medical College, it cannot be faulted with, added the Bench.

Therefore, the Bench said, “ We are, therefore, of the considered view that the amended Regulation cannot be said to be one, which is manifestly arbitrary, so as to permit the Court to interfere with it. On the contrary, we find that the amended Regulation 6(2)(h) has a direct nexus with the object to be achieved, i.e., providing adequate teaching and training facilities to the students.”

The Top Court expressly mentioned that the Bench of the High Court had erred in substituting its wisdom with that of the rule-making body, which is an expert body and opined that the view of the Division Bench of the High Court was contrary to the observation made in Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and another vs. Paritosh Bhupeshkumar Sheth and others wherein it was held that  it would be wholly wrong for the Court to substitute its own opinion for that of the Legislature or its delegate as to what principle or policy would best serve the objects and purposes of the Act. 

Also, reiterating that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated, the Bench said, “The impugned Notification, undoubtedly, is made in order to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards and infrastructure and as such, the judgment of the Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of T.M.A. Pai Foundation and others (supra), rather than supporting the case of the respondent No.1, would support the case of the Council.”

Thus, upholding the validity of the amended Regulation, the Apex Court allowed the appeal and quashed the impugned judgment passed by the Division Bench of the High Court.

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