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Madras High Court Directs Puducherry Fee Committee To Fix Fees For PG Medical Courses From 2017-18 Onwards Until Guidelines Are Framed By UGC/ NMC

Akshita Saxena
12 Jan 2021 2:48 PM GMT
Madras High Court Directs Puducherry Fee Committee To Fix Fees For PG Medical Courses From 2017-18 Onwards Until Guidelines Are Framed By UGC/ NMC
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The Madras High Court on Monday ordered the Puducherry Fee Committee to fix the fee for Post Graduate Medical and Dental courses in Deemed Universities, for the from the academic year 2017-18 onwards till 2020-21. Further, students shall be entitled for refund of excess fees paid by them in terms of a previous order of the High Court. The order has been passed by a Division bench...

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The Madras High Court on Monday ordered the Puducherry Fee Committee to fix the fee for Post Graduate Medical and Dental courses in Deemed Universities, for the from the academic year 2017-18 onwards till 2020-21.

Further, students shall be entitled for refund of excess fees paid by them in terms of a previous order of the High Court.

The order has been passed by a Division bench of Justices TS Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan after taking note of the fact that reasonably high, arbitrary and prohibitive fees is being collected by the respondent Deemed to be Universities from the students.

"Unless the admission procedure and fixation of fees regulated and controlled at the initial state, the evil of unfair practice of granting admissions on available seats guided by the paying capacity of candidates would be impossible to curb," the Bench remarked.

The Court relied on Supreme Court's decision in PA Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 6 SCC 537, wherein it was held that the admission of students in medical institutions as also fee charged by such medical institutions are ex-facie matters of immense public importance and the court cannot shut its eyes to impediments in the way of individual litigation by young students and the Court can take note of the facts pleaded by a public spirited citizen in a public interest litigation and suo motu pass orders to redress the grievances of the student community

Background

In the instant case, Petitioner-Advocate VBR Menon had submitted that the fee structure in Deemed to be Universities in Puducherry is exorbitant and as a result many students who had cleared the admission process, undergone counselling and allowed provisional admission have not been able to join by reason of their inability to deposit Rs.40 lakhs to Rs.50 lakhs at short notice.

The Court was informed that both, the National Medical Commission (NMC) and UGC are in the process of framing guidelines for determination of fees and other charges in accordance with the law and the same shall take reasonable time.

Findings

The Court observed that we are left with a period during which there is no statutory guideline regulating the fee structure for the medical and dental courses, while also it may not be justified in issuing any peremptory time-limit for the law makers to put the statutory regulations into force.

Thus, the Court ordered that fees for PG medical courses shall be fixed by the Puducherry Fee Committee from the academic year 2017-18 till 2020-21.

The Court also observed that fees from 2021-22 onwards shall be regulated by the Regulations and Guidelines to be laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC), in accordance with Section 10(1)(i) of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.

An extract of the Court's order states:

"In no uncertain terms, NMC has stated that they would not be able to frame the guidelines for the academic year 2020-21, but would be able to do it for the subsequent academic year and parallelly, they would state that the fee fixed by the Fee Regulatory Committee may be followed. Thus, the two statutory bodies are in the process of completing the task entrusted to them; one by the Court insofar as UGC is concerned; and the other by a statutory mandate under the NMC Act, 2019.

Thus, we are left with a period during which there is no statutory guideline regulating the fee structure for the medical and dental courses offered by the respondent institutions. It would be too late for the respondent institutions/Deemed to be Universities to raise a contention that the Puducherry Fee Committee cannot regulate their fee structure. This is more so in the light of the direction issued by the then Hon'ble First Bench dated 16.06.2017 wherein, the Court took into consideration that the fee collected by the respondent institutions is unreasonably high, arbitrary and prohibitory."

The directions passed by the Court are as follows:

  • The Puducherry Fee Committee shall fix the fee for the respondents/Deemed to be Universities for the Post Graduate Medical and Dental courses from the academic year 2017-18 onwards till 2020-21;
  • The fixation shall be an ad-hoc fixation and shall abide by the fixation to be done under the UGC Regulations which is in the process of finalization subject to the approval and orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in W.P.(C) No.949 of 2018 pending before the Hon'ble Supreme Court wherein, an order has been passed on 15.04.2019 and while directing the UGC Committee to determine the fee structure, direction has been issued not to implement the same until further orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court;
  • The NMC, as undertaken, shall determine the fee structure in accordance with the NMC Act, 2019 for the academic year 2021-22;
  • Upon fixation of the fee by the Puducherry Fee Committee, the adjustment, i.e., making good the deficit or granting refund, shall be carried out in terms of the directions issued in paragraph 22 of the order dated 16.06.2017.

Case Title: VBR Menon v. Government of Puducherry & Ors.

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



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