“A few States have passed legislation that are toothless to prohibit capitation fee”

The Supreme Court has expressed serious concern at large-scale corruption, payment of capitation fee and unfair trade practices in medical admissions in the country and asked Parliament to enact legislation for curbing these unfair practices.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri said “such legislation was an extreme necessity and it is the demand of society.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “We notice that the current policy of the Central government in the higher education is to provide autonomy for institutions, but adoption of unfair practices is a serious violation of the law. A few States, like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi etc. have passed some legislation to prohibit demand/collection of capitation fee which have no teeth; the institutions which indulge in such practices can get away by paying some fine, which is meagre.”

Bill presented

The Bench said, “The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and University Bill, 2010 had been presented in both the Houses of Parliament. It is reported that the States have welcomed such legislation, but no further follow-up action has been taken. We are confident that earnest efforts would be made to bring in proper legislation, so that unethical and unfair practices prevalent in higher technical and medical institutions can be effectively curbed in the larger public interest.”

Pointing to CBI probe in certain cases, the Bench said: “The CBI’s investigation, however, reveals a sorry state of affairs, which is an eye-opener for taking appropriate remedial measures in future so that medical education may attain the goals envisaged by the IMC Act and the Regulations and serve the community. [That the] CBI had to charge sheet none other than the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare [Anbumani Ramadoss] itself depicts how the educational system in this country is deteriorating. Many of regulatory bodies like MCI, AICTE, UGC etc. were also under serious clout in the recent years.”

Demand for more seats

It said: “The CBI, in 2010, had to arrest the president of the MCI for accepting bribe to grant recognition to one medical college in Punjab. Later, it is reported that mushrooming of large number of medical, engineering, nursing and pharmaceutical colleges — which has definitely affected the quality of education in this country — especially in the medical field call for serious introspection.

“Private medical educational institutions are always demanding more number of seats in their colleges even though many of them have no sufficient infrastructural facilities, clinical materials, faculty members, etc.

“Reports appear every now and then that many of the private institutions, which are conducting medical colleges are demanding lakhs and sometimes crores of rupees for MBBS and for post-graduate admission in their respective colleges.”

Seats sold

The Bench said: “Recently, it is reported that a few MBBS seats were sold in private colleges of Chennai. We cannot lose sight of the fact that these things are happening in our country irrespective of the constitutional pronouncements by this Court in the TMA Pai Foundation judgment that there shall not be any profiteering or acceptance of capitation fee etc. The Central government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, CBI or the Intelligence Wing have to take effective steps to undo such unethical practices or else self-financing institutions will turn to be students financing institutions.”

The Bench dismissed a petition filed by Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, seeking to quash a letter dated July 13 issued by the MCI by which the permission granted for renewal of admission for additional intake of students for the academic session 2013-2014 was revoked.

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