Savvy Thakur

Published on: November 8, 2022 at 20:12 IST

Supreme Court while upholding the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court to strike down the State government’s decision to raise the annual tuition fees for MBBS courses in private unaided medical colleges to Rs. 24 lakh, observed that imparting education is not a business with the goal of making a profit.

A bench consisting of Justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh stated that the state’s decision in 2017 to raise annual fees by seven times the amount that was set in 2011 was unjustifiable. The new fee was 24 lakh rupees.

“It was completely unjustifiable to increase the fee to 24 lakhs, which is seven times higher than the initial fee. Education is not a business with a profit motive.”

The bench emphasized, “The tuition fee shall always be affordable.”

As a result, the Court ordered the State government and the appellant medical school to pay the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the Supreme Court’s Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee (MCPC) costs totaling Rs. 2.5 lakh.

The bench also upheld the High Court’s orders requiring medical schools to reimburse students for any additional fees they had paid as a result of the Government Order (GO) issued in September 2017 by the State.

“The colleges cannot be allowed to keep the money that was recovered from the illegal GO. This illegal GO, which the High Court correctly overturned, benefits the medical schools.”

“The respective medical colleges have used or used the amount recovered under GO for a number of years and kept it with them,” the bench said.

“On the other hand, students paid the exorbitant tuition fee after getting loans from financial institutions and banks and paid the higher rate of interest.”

If the Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (AFRC) determines a tuition rate that is higher than the previous rate, medical schools will always be able to collect the difference from the affected students.

The court clarified, however, that the respective medical schools cannot retain the collected funds.

The judges stated that the fee must be determined or reviewed in accordance with the fixation rules and directly relate to:

“The location of the professional institution, the nature of the professional course, the cost of the infrastructure that is already there, the cost of administration and maintenance, a reasonable surplus that is needed for the institution’s growth and development, and any revenue lost due to fees waived by reserved category students.”

The bench added that all of these considerations must be taken into account by the AFRC when looking at tuition fees.

Case Title: Narayana Medical College vs. State of Andhra Pradesh

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