New Delhi: The Supreme Court in a verdict passed recently has denied the Annamalai University the right to fix its own fee structure for the Raja Muthiah Medical College affiliated to it.The bench asked the university to place its balance-sheet and accounts before the Committee on Fixation of Fee within two weeks. The Committee, on the other hand, was given a directive to work out an appropriate fee structure for the academic year 2013-14 for the varsity college.
The apex court in the above M Aamira Fathima v. Annamalai University case has directed that the varsity is neither entitled nor competent to formulate its own fee structure for medical courses without getting a prior approval from the Committee on Fixation of Fee.
‘The submission that the University was entitled to fix fees on its own without the intervention of such Committee has to be rejected,’ the bench stated.
With regards to the matter related to degrees in medicine, the court stated that screening and assessment were to be done by the Committee on Fixation of Fee.
‘The submission that the University was entitled to fix fees on its own without the intervention of such Committee is to be rejected,” the apex court added.
In the year 2013-14, the 150 MBBS students who had taken admission in the first MBBS course in the RMMC college, under the Annamalai University, moved the Madras High Court on the issue of a fee of more than Rs. 5.54 lakh annually, having been imposed by the university. The students in their petition also argued that the fee-fixation committee in Tamil Nadu had stated that government colleges would charge Rs 12,290 a year for MBBS and Rs 10,290 for BDS.
The student’s petition highlighted the enormous difference in the sum charged by the university and that fixed by the government in consultation with the committee on Fixation of Fee. The student’s pleaded that the fixation of fee matter is referred to the Committee in terms of Tamil Nadu Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Collection of Capitation Fee) Act, 1992.
The Court, however, dismissed their plea saying that students admitted to MBBS and BDS courses for the year 2013 -14 were bound by the terms and conditions of the prospectus for that year.
The single bench referred to Cochin University of Science and Technology and another v. Thomas P. John and others, in this regard.
The High Court, upholding the definition of an educational institution as appearing in Section 2(e) of 1992 Act concluded that for the implementation of the provisions of 1992 Act, the institution should be alerted in the form of a notification by the state government and an appropriate reminder sent to the Fee Fixation Committee.
The court further observed that the university was initially established in the pre-Independence days, and merely because the prevailing act then (Annamalai University Act, 1928) was repealed and replaced by Annamalai University Act, 2013, the first limb of Section 2(b) was not applicable without the state government referring the university to the Fee Fixation Committee.
The division bench of the High Court thereby, dismissed writ appeals, upholding the single bench order.
Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the students before the apex court argued that it was completely wrong on part of the High Court to observe that the provisions of 1992 Act would not apply.
“If the concerned activity leads to the award of a degree or diploma by any University established under any law made by the State Legislature, such institution shall be “educational institution” within the meaning of provisions of Section 2(b). The specification by notification is a pre-requisite only if the institution concerned is otherwise not covered under (I) Part. The High Court was completely in error in observing that for the application by the provisions of the 1992 Act an educational institution must always be specified by the Government by notification. In our view, the requirement of specification of notification is only in respect of “any other educational institution or class or classes of educational institutions” and has not to be read with (I) part of definition, which part of the definition is an independent stand-alone provision and does not require any specification by the Government,” the bench said.
The bench also held that Annamalai University, as per the deeming fiction in Section of 2013 Act, is one established under any law does not require any specification by the Government.”
Talking about the Annamalai university the bench stated “The University by its very nature of activities would be running numerous courses and to that extent provisions of the 2013 Act are general in nature. The provisions of Section 4(2-A) of the 1992 Act are specific and special and apply to courses leading to degrees in Medicine.”
“Therefore, in so far as professional courses leading to degrees in Medicine are concerned, the matter must be screened and assessed by Committee on Fixation of Fee and the submission that the University was entitled to fix fees on its own without the intervention of such Committee has to be rejected,” the court concluded