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Madras HC directs NMC to relook into office memorandum fixing low fees for 50% of seats in private medical colleges 

Says, the existing fee structure shall continue until the council takes a relook

September 09, 2022 11:37 am | Updated 12:01 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai.

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai. | Photo Credit: K. PICHUMANI

The Madras High Court on Friday directed the National Medical Commission (NMC) to take a relook into an office memorandum issued by it on February 3 insisting that the fee for 50% of seats in deemed to be universities and self-financing medical colleges must be on a par with the fee collected by government medical colleges in the respective State or the Union Territory.

Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N. Mala said, the NMC must revisit the memorandum since certain aspects such as the possibility of many seats going vacant in the other 50% due to high fees had not been considered. Ordering that the reconsideration must be done at the earliest, the judges said, till then, the existing fee structure shall continue.

The Bench however upheld the constitutional validity of Section 10 (1)(i) of the National Medical Commission Act of 2019 under which the office memorandum had been issued. The provision empowers the NMC to frame guidelines for the determination of fees and all other charges in respect of 50% of seats in private medical institutions and deemed to be universities governed under the provisions of the NMC Act.

The judgement was delivered on a batch of writ petitions filed by a host of deemed-to-be universities and self-financing medical colleges from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. They had challenged the constitutional validity of Section 10(1)(i) as well as the consequential office memorandum issued on February 3.

The memorandum read: “After extensive consultations, it has been decided that the fee of the 50% seats in the private medical colleges and deemed universities should be on a par with the fee in the government medical colleges of that particular State or Union Territory. The benefit of this fee structure would be first made available to those candidates who have availed government quota seats but limited to the extent of 50% of the total sanctioned strength.

“However, if the government quota seats are less than 50% of the total sanctioned seats of the respective medical college/deemed university, the remaining candidates would avail the benefit of fee equivalent to the government medical college fees based purely on the merit.” The memorandum also went on to list out 25 guidelines to be followed in every State or Union Territory while fixing fee or other charges that could be collected by private medical colleges or deemed universities.

The writ petitioners, who had challenged it, included Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Swamy Vivekanandha Medical College Hospital and Research Institute, Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences and Education Promotion Society for India, a body of various educational institutions.

The petitioners had contended that it would be impossible to run their institutions by collecting the quantum of highly subsidized fees charged by government colleges. They argued that they would be forced to charge very high fees from the other 50% of students and that not many might be able to pay such high fees leading to many seats going vacant.

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