New Delhi: The Supreme Court has granted relief to an MBBS student, who lost an academic year due to the cancellation of admissions made by Kannur Medical College.
“A student who has been deprived of a valuable year in pursuing her studies, cannot be left in the lurch,” held the Supreme Court.
The case relates to the petitioner student, who obtained MBBS admission at the medical college in September 2016. The petitioner had paid a total fee of Rs 21.65 lakhs which comprised, inter alia, of Rs 10 lakh as annual fees, Rs 10 lakhs as fee deposit and Rs 1.65 lakhs as a special fee.
However, the Medical College got derecognized after it failed to comply with the orders of the Admission Supervisory Committee. After the MBBS admissions were cancelled, the petitioner began her MBBS Course in another medical institute but she had lost a year in her studies. Therefore, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 seeking a direction for the medical college to compensate her for the loss of an academic year. This loss was caused on account of legal proceedings that transpired after the cancellation of admission.
Medical Dialogues extensively reported about the case which ensued after a complaint was registered by the father of the petitioner MBBS student to the Admission Supervisory Committee, seeking reimbursement of the fee collected by the college management.
He further filed a petition before the Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee for Medical Education in Kerala, which was later withdrawn, on the ground that the matter has been settled between him and the medical college. He submitted before the committee that he had received Rs 20 lakhs. Later, he filed another complaint contending that though he had received an amount of Rs 20 lakhs but, that the remaining amount of Rs 1.65 lakh had not been paid. The Committee held that the medical college was liable to return an amount of Rs 1.65 lakhs also.
The litigation went on to the apex court which at that time directed the medical college to return back the amount paid by the MBBS students in double.
A number of conflicts followed the apex court’s order. The college had stated that they paid back Rs 20 lakh to the students for Rs 10 lakh paid by the students.
The government appointed Supervisory Committee had submitted the report with SC stating that the court order was not obeyed. The Committee found that the students had paid Rs 30 – 40 lakhs at the time of admissions. So the court ordered for a probe regarding this issue.
The SC had stated, “Since the time for admissions has expired, the college won’t be allowed to make any fresh admissions this year.”
The Admission Supervisory Committee, by SC’s order, had to find out the amount paid by the MBBS students as capitation fees at the time of admissions and also if the medical college repaid twice the amount to the students.
Now, during a recent hearing on the case, the SC bench of honourable Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta noticed that the petitioner have not made a full, fair and candid disclosure of all facts in the writ petition.
“While moving a writ petition before this Court, the petitioner ought to have made a full, fair and candid disclosure of all facts. The fact that while seeking a refund of the fees paid to the first respondent, the father of the petitioner had executed several documents by which he had unconditionally withdrawn the claim, was certainly a material circumstance which ought to have been disclosed before this Court.”
The petitioner submitted that the claim was withdrawn under duress, since the petitioner was required to obtain a refund of fees, having secured admission to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. In order to enable the Court to consider the plea of duress, it was the bounden duty and obligation of the petitioner to disclose a full and complete statement of facts.
Justice to the petitioner should not become a victim of the prestige of this Court, said the bench while deciding not to dismiss the writ petition on this ground.
“There can be no manner of doubt that the petitioner is entitled to be compensated for the loss of a valuable year which was occasioned by the misdemeanors of the first respondent. A student who has been deprived of a valuable year in pursuing her studies, cannot be left in the lurch. It is in this background, that the explanation that the complaints made by the father of the petitioner were withdrawn only because there was an urgent need to obtain a refund of the fee, to enable the petitioner to secure admission to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences must be understood. Middle class parents do not have the luxury of resources. We must form a robust understanding of the circumstances in which the father of the petitioner withdrew his complaint. The Committee has in fact recorded a finding of fact that the withdrawal was not voluntary and was occasioned by the serious impediment in receiving a refund of fees.”
The SC left it open to the petitioner to pursue her claim before the Committee, while observing that loss of a precious year warrants compensation and that a student cannot be deprived of her studies or left in a lurch.
“In order not to prejudice the case of the petitioner, we leave it open to her to pursue her claim before the Committee. The petitioner would be at liberty to pursue her claim before the Committee in terms of Clause 1 of the order dated 29 August 2018 passed by this Court as clarified by the subsequent order dated 4 October 2018. We request the Admissions Committee to take a decision expeditiously and within a period of three months of the receipt of a certified copy of this judgment. All the rights and contentions of the parties are kept open.”
Attached is the detailed judgment below: