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Supreme Court issues directions to curb capitation fee charged by private medical colleges

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, May 21

Terming the capitation fee charged by private medical colleges a “stark reality”, the Supreme Court issued a series of directions, including establishment of a dedicated portal for reporting such incidents, to check the menace.

“The management of private medical colleges are strictly prohibited from accepting payment of fees in cash, in order to avoid charging a capitation fee. The students or any other aggrieved persons are at liberty to report on the web-portal regarding collection of fees in cash by any medical colleges,” a Bench led by Justice LNN Rao said in an order on Thursday.

The Bench said private medical colleges were strictly prohibited from accepting payment of fees in cash in order to avoid charging a capitation fee.

“This Court observed that it cannot shut its eyes to the hard realities of commercialisation of education and evil practices being adopted by many institutions to earn large amounts. This Court was of the opinion that the method of admission has to be regulated so that the admissions are based on merit and transparency if the charging of capitation fee and profiteering has to be kept in check,” it noted.

The Bench was hearing appeals filed by managements of private medical colleges aggrieved by orders passed by high courts upsetting the fee fixed by respective fee fixation committees for undergraduate medical courses for academic years 2004-2007.

Accepting the suggestions of the amicus curiae and counsel for states and National Medical Council, the Bench said, “We are in agreement with the suggestion that the managements of private medical colleges should not accept any fees in cash in order to avoid the charging of capitation fee.”

The court said, “While fixing fees, 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.”

It said, “In the event that the management intends to charge additional amounts over and above the price band fixed by the Fee Fixation Committee, or for any component not included in the structure fixed by the Fee Fixation Committee, the same can only be done with the concurrence of the Fee Fixation Committee.”

India’s medical education has been plagued with capitation fee menace with colleges collecting money directly or indirectly in excess of the fee prescribed. Expressing concern over the menace, the top court lamented the practice was prevalent even today despite laws prohibiting it.

The Bench ordered establishment of a web-portal under the aegis of Supreme Court wherein any information about private medical colleges charging capitation fees can be furnished by students. The web portal shall be maintained and regulated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), it added.

It directed Chief Secretaries of 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 and compulsorily give a pamphlet to students and their parents at the time of counselling, informing them about the web-portal.

“While fixing the schedule for the admission process, the National Medical Commission and the Dental Council of India have to make sure that the counselling for all the rounds, including the stray vacancy round, is completed at least two weeks before the last date of admission,” the top court said.

“The names of students who are recommended by the authority for admission in the stray round vacancy have to be made public along with rank allotted to them in the NEET exam. The admissions should be made strictly on the basis of merit and in the event of any admission to the contrary, suitable action shall be taken against the private medical colleges.

“The Director General of Health Services and other concerned authorities to the State Governments should ensure that the All-India Quota and State Quota rounds of counselling are completed strictly in accordance with the time schedule that is fixed,” the top court said.

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