Right To Establish Educational Institution Can Be Regulated - SC Upholds Regulation 6(2)(h) Of DCI Regulations
A two-judge Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai has held that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere, and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration.
The Supreme Court while setting aside the impugned order of the High Court has upheld Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New or Higher Course of Studies or Training and Increase of Admission Capacity in Dental Colleges) Regulations, 2006.
ASG Ms. Aishwarya Bhati appeared for Respondent No. 2, Counsel Mr. Gaurav Sharma appeared for Council and Counsel Ms. Sobha Gupta appeared for Respondent No. 1 before the Apex Court.
An appeal was preferred assailing the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court which had allowed the Writ Petition of Respondent No. 1 and struck down the notification dated 21st May 2012, vide which the Appellant – Dental Council of India had substituted Regulation 6(2)(h) of 2006 Regulations on the ground of the same being inconsistent with the provisions of the Dentist Act and also being violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
Amended Regulation 6(2)(h) after the issue of impugned notification dated 21st May 2012
Under the unamended regulation, an applicant was entitled to apply if he/she/it owned and managed a General Hospital of not less than 100 beds, however, by the impugned notification, it has been made mandatory that the applicant has to attach its proposed Dental College with the Government/Private Medical College, approved/recognized by the Medical Council of India, which is located at a distance of 10 kilometers by road from the proposed Dental College. The distance of 10 kilometers has now been increased to 30 kilometers, vide amendment dated 5th July 2017.
High Court's Analysis
The Division Bench of the High Court had allowed the Writ Petition of Respondent No. 1 and quashed the impugned notification on three grounds –
i) That it is violative of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution;
ii) That it is beyond the scope of powers of the Council to make delegated legislation as provided under Section 10A (7) of the Act; and
iii) That it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution inasmuch as the Dental Colleges established prior to impugned Notification would be permitted to run without attachment with Medical Colleges, whereas, the Dental Colleges established after the impugned Notification will be compelled to have such an attachment with the Medical Colleges.
Apex Court's Analysis
The Bench noted that the Division Bench had erred on all counts.
The Court placed reliance on Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Private Ltd. and others vs. Union of India and others, where the Supreme Court had held that the subordinate legislation may be questioned on any of the grounds on which plenary legislation is questioned. In addition, it may also be questioned on the ground that it does not conform to the statute under which it is made. It may further be questioned on the ground that it is contrary to some other statute. Though it may also be questioned on the ground of unreasonableness, such unreasonableness should not be in the sense of not being reasonable but should be in the sense that it is manifestly arbitrary.
The Bench additionally observed –
"We are, therefore, of the considered view that the amended Regulation cannot be said to be one, which is manifestly arbitrary, so as to permit the Court to interfere with it. On the contrary, we find that the amended Regulation 6(2)(h) has a direct nexus with the object to be achieved, i.e., providing adequate teaching and training facilities to the students."
Further, the Court held that the Division Bench of the High Court has erred in substituting its wisdom with that of the rule-making body, which is an expert body.
In this context, the Court noted –
"We are, therefore, of the considered view that it was not permissible for the Division Bench of the High Court to enter into an area of experts and hold that the unamended provisions ought to have been preferred over the amended provisions."
The Bench further placed reliance on T.M.A. Pai Foundation and Others vs. State of Karnataka and others., and held, "It can thus clearly be seen that the Constitution Bench itself has held that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated. However, such regulatory measures must, in general, be to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration."
The Court also held that the impugned notification undoubtedly is made in order to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards and infrastructure.
In the light of these observations, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside and quashed the impugned order of the Division Bench of the High Court.