Private technical and medical colleges demanding capitation fee from students is illegal and unethical, the Supreme Court has said and asked the Centre to make laws to put an end to such practices which deny admission to meritorious financially poor students in those institutions.
"Collection of large amount by way of capitation fee running into crores of rupees for MBBS and post-graduate seats, exorbitant fee, donation etc, by many of such self- financing institutions, have kept the meritorious financially poor students away from those institutions," it said.
"Pressure, it is also seen, is being extended by various institutions, for the additional intake of students, not always for the benefit of the student community and thereby serve the community, but for their own betterment," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri said.
The court said that quality of education has gone down in private colleges which are turning into students financing institutions. It said that government agencies need to introspect on the issue to bring proper legislation.
"We cannot lose sight of the fact that these things are happening in our country irrespective of the constitutional pronouncements by this court in TMA Pai Foundation case that there shall not be any profiteering or acceptance of capitation fee etc.
"Central Government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Central Bureau of Investigation 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," it said.
The court said that mushrooming of large number of medical, engineering, nursing and pharmaceutical colleges has definitely affected the quality of education in this country, especially in the medical field which 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," it said.
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, it said.
The bench also referred to recent cases in which CBI had to charge sheet the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and President of Medical Council of India to emphasise that all is not well even at the government level.
CBI's investigation "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", it said.
"CBI had to charge sheet none other than the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, itself which 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. CBI, in the year 2010, had to arrest the President of the MCI for accepting bribe to grant recognition to one medical college in Punjab," it said.
"We, therefore, emphasise the extreme necessity of a parliamentary legislation for curbing these unfair practices which is the demand of our society," it said, adding, "We are confident, 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."
The court passed the order while rejecting the plea of a Bareily-based medical college which had approached it against MCI for not allowing the institution to increase the student intake.