Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, May 23, 2022: In order to curb the menace of capitation fee, the Supreme Court has directed that a web-portal has to be set-up wherein any information about the private medical colleges charging capitation fees can be furnished by the students. The Chief Secretaries of the States and Union Territories have been directed to publish the details about the web-portal at the time of admission.

Criticizing the act of the private medical colleges of charging the captivation fee, the Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai took note of the fact that in spite of the State Governments enacting legislations prohibiting the practice of charging capitation fee and making it an offence, the stark reality which cannot be ignored is that capitation fee being charged for admission to medical colleges is prevalent even today.

In the present case the orders passed by the Fee Fixation Committee for undergraduate medical courses were assailed by the students and private medical colleges before the High Court. The High Court allowed the writ petitions filed by the students and dismissed the writ petitions filed by the management of private medical colleges. Thereafter a notice was issued by this Court in a Special Leave Petition and the judgment of the High Court was stayed on the condition that the private medical colleges would refund fees to the students in accordance with the order of the High Court.

Pursuant to this order,  the Amicus Curiae filed an interim status report after which this Court directed the Registry to furnish a copy of the Report to the Chief Secretaries / Administrator of the respective States / Union Territories and to the representative of the students who were directed to forward their responses to the Amicus Curiae directly. The appeals were directed to be listed for further directions on the Interim Status Report thereafter. The matter was listed for hearing on April 20, 2022. 

The Court cited its judgment in TMA Pai Foundation & Ors. Vs.  State of Karnataka, wherein it was observed that a rational model should be adopted by the management, which would not be entitled to charge a capitation fee. Another case that was preferred was of Islamic Academy of Education and Anr. Vs. State of Karnataka and Ors, wherein it was opined that once fee is fixed by the Committee, the institute cannot charge either directly or indirectly any other amount over and above the amount fixed as fee. Lastly, the case of P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, was referred tp wherein it was held that capitation fee cannot be permitted to be charged and no seat can be permitted to be appropriated by payment of capitation fee. 

Thus, passing the aforementioned directions the Top Court also held that while fixing the fee, the Fee Fixation Committees of the States should take into account all the components of fee, leaving no scope for managements to charge any additional amounts apart from what has been prescribed by the fee fixation committee from time to time. The Director General of Health Services and other concerned authorities to the State Governments was directed ensure that the All-India Quota and State Quota rounds of counseling are completed strictly in accordance with the time schedule that is fixed. This matter has been listed for further hearing in July, 2022. 

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