Education Is Not Business To Earn Profit: SC Affirms Andhra Pradesh HC's Decision Quashing Seven-Fold Increase In MBBS Tuition Fee
While observing that education is not the business to earn profit, the Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing the decision of the State to enhance the tuition fee payable by the MBBS students.
"To enhance the fee to Rs. 24 lakhs per annum i.e., seven times more than the fee fixed earlier was not justifiable at all. The education is not the business to earn profit. The tuition fee shall always be affordable.", the bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed.
The Court was hearing Special Leave Petitions challenging the decision of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh which quashed the Government Order (GO) hiking MBBS fees by almost seven times.
Senior Advocate K.V. Viswanathan appeared on behalf of the appellants, Senior Advocate Basava Prabhu S. Patil, appeared on behalf of the original writ petitioners, and Advocate Krishna Dev Jagarlamudi, appeared for A.P. Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee.
The Supreme Court affirmed the view taken by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and said, ".... no error has been committed by the High Court in quashing and setting aside G.O. dated 06.09.2017 enhancing the tuition fee for the private medical colleges."
In compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court rendered in P.A. Inamdar Vs. State of Maharashtra (2005), the State of Andhra Pradesh framed Rules called the Andhra Pradesh Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (for Professional Courses offered in Private UnAided Professional Institutions) Rules, 2006, wherein, it was provided that the fee cannot be enhanced/fixed without the recommendations/report of the AFRC (Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee).
However, the government of Andhra Pradesh in 2017 enhanced the tuition fee on representations made by the private medical colleges at an exorbitant rate of Rs. 24 lakhs per annum for MBBS students without seeking report from Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee.
The Court noted, "Once the State Government enacted the Rules, 2006 which provides determination and fixation and the review of the tuition fees by the AFRC, the State Government was bound by the Rules, 2006 and could not have enhanced the fee during the review pending with the AFRC".
"To enhance the fee unilaterally would be contrary to the objects and purpose of Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act, 1983 as well as the Rules, 2006 and the decision of this Court in the case of P.A. Inamdar", the Court observed.
The Court directed refund of the balance amount after adjusting the fee and held that college management cannot retain fees illegally. "The medical colleges are the beneficiaries of the illegal G.O. dated 06.09.2017 which is rightly set aside by the High Court. The respective medical colleges have used/utilized the amount recovered under G.O. dated 06.09.2017 for a number years and kept with them for a number of years on the other hand students paid the exorbitant tuition fee after obtaining loan from the financial institutions/banks and paid the higher rate of interest".
The Court imposed Rs. 5 lakhs cost to be equally paid by appellants-medical colleges and the State of Andhra Pradesh to be deposited with the Registry of the Supreme Court within six weeks.
Cause Title- Narayana Medical College v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.