CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday ordered the National Medical Commission (NMC) to reconsider its direction to private medical colleges and deemed universities to collect government fixed fee for 50% of their seats, saying that such an arrangement is impermissible and would affect merit.
The first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala passed the orders on a batch of petitions filed by the Education Promotion Society for India and private medical colleges and deemed universities challenging the NMC’s office memorandum issued earlier this year.
The bench ordered the National Medical Commission to come out with a fresh office memorandum and said the fee structure under the present system may continue till that exercise is completed. If there is huge difference in fee structure between two sets of students, then it may result in sacrificing the merit of the candidates because after filling the first 50% seats on a par with the fee collected by government medical colleges, the remaining seats would be given to next meritorious students and if candidates are not in a position to pay the high fee, students with lesser merit would be given admission.
This would ultimately result in sacrificing merit and in worst-case scenario may lead to seats going vacant causing loss to the institutions and the nation if candidates down the merit list are not ready to pay the high fee, the bench said. The expert committee set up by the National Medical Commission had failed to take into account these facts while making recommendation for restructuring the fee of private medical educational institutions, the judges said. “The expert committee could not visualize that if there would be huge difference in the fee structure for two sets of students, it may result in sacrificing the merit,” the bench said.
‘Arrangement not permissible in the light of SC judgments’
The petitioners had challenged Section 10 (1) (i) of NMC Act, 2019, and office memorandum dated February 3, 2022, which provides for fee of 50% seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities to be on a par with the government medical colleges and guidelines for fixation of fee and other charges to cover the cost incurred by the institutions for the remaining 50% seats.
The petitioners contended that students admitted under second 50% seats (with fee ranging from Rs 40 lakh to 70 lakh) would have to subsidise those admitted for first 50% seats for a fee on a par with government colleges (ranging from R18,000 to R20,000 per year). The court held that this arrangement is not permissible in the light of the apex court judgments in the case of TMA Pai Foundation and others and Islamic Academy of Education and another
‘Will affect merit, lead to vacancies’
Chennai: The petitioners had contended that students admitted to 50% seats for fee ranging from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh would have to subsidise those admitted to 50% seats for a fee on a par with government colleges (Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 per year). This fee difference would result in sacrificing merit and may lead to seats in private institutions going vacant.