New Delhi: The Central Government has sought two weeks’ time from the Supreme Court for filing a counter affidavit in a plea that challenged the National Medical Commission’s order implementing government fees in 50 percent seats of private medical colleges.

Allowing the prayer of the Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, the top court bench comprising of Justices D.Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli has listed the matter for further hearing on November 4, 2022 for the final disposal.

“List the matters on 4 November 2022. Reply be filed in the meantime,” read the order.

The issue concerns the Office Memorandum issued by NMC back in February 2022. In that order, the Apex medical body had clarified that the fees of 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges would be at par with government medical colleges of that particular State/UT.

“After extensive consultations, it has been decided that the fee of the 50 per cent seats in the private medical colleges and deemed universities should be at par with the fee in the government medical colleges of that particular State and UT. The benefit of this fee structure would be first made available to those candidates who have availed government quota seats, but are limited to the extent of 50 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of the respective medical college/deemed university,” NMC had mentioned in the notification.

“However, if the government quota seats are less than 50 per cent of total sanctioned seats, the remaining candidates would avail the benefit of a fee equivalent to the government medical college fees, based purely on the merit,” the Commission had added.

While such a move definitely brought relief to a section of medical aspirants who choose to leave India and move abroad for cheaper medical education, such a rule fails to take into consideration the plights of the private medical college managements who pay lakhs and crores of money to set up the infrastructure.

Also Read: Govt fee for 50 percent seats in private medical colleges: Supreme Court to hear matter on October 21

Naturally, the NMC fee order met with opposition from the management of private medical colleges who had urged the Union Health Ministry for withdrawing the diktat. Since NMC did not withdraw the same, the order came to be challenged before the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

Association Of Health Sciences Institutes (AHSI) had made the plea before the Supreme Court and argued that the top court in various judgments had reiterated the fact that the method for fixing the fees, would be subject to considering various guidelines such as facilities available in the college, infrastructure, age of investment made, plans for expansion, etc.

In their plea, the association highlighted, “BECAUSE the Impugned OM is entirely arbitrary, ultra-vires and unconstitutional. It has no existence in the eyes of law. It is contrary to the declarations made by this Hon’ble Court prohibiting any such stipulations which have been sought to be imposed by the Respondent on the fundamental rights guaranteed to the private unaided educational institutions such as the Petitioner, under Part III of the Constitution of India.”

Challenging the NMC fee order, the association had contended that the private unaided institutions can fix the fees being charged annually from the students. However, this fee fixation gets monitored by the Fee Committee in order to ensure that there is no profiteering and the fee charged. This way, the private unaided institutions can get back the expenditure spent along with reasonable profit / surplus for its expansions.

As per the latest media report by Edex Live, the Additional Solicitor General Sankay Jain requested the top court bench for two weeks’ time to file the centre’s response to the petitions. Bench agreed to this and said that it would hear the plea in two weeks’ time for final disposal.

Previously, while considering similar pleas, the Kerala High Court had clarified that the concerned Fee order will not be applicable in Kerala. Similarly, the Madras High Court had asked NMC to reconsider its decision and issue fresh guidelines as necessary. In its order, the Madras HC expressed concern over the possibility of several seats going vacant because of the high fees in the other 50 percent seats in the self-financed institutes.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh became the first state to implement the much debated NMC fee order for PG medical admission.Confirming this, the State Director of Medical Education had clarified in a recent notice that after removing 15% NRI quota seats, the fees for the 42.5 percent of the remaining 85 percent general pool seats would be at par with the fees of Government medical colleges.

It should be noted in this context that while considering the matter the Supreme Court bench has also issued notice to the Association of Private Universities of Madhya Pradesh.

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