Civil appeal no. 16701 of 2021
Date of the judgment
7th January 2022
Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar
Appellant –Sanju Simon and Ors
Respondent – State of Kerela and Ors and connected matters
The Kerela High Court held that collecting fees from students for year which is not currently in question will amount to “profiteering”. An appeal was filed by the students pursuing MBBS from a private medical college pointing out that demanding advance fees for academic year which is not currently active is not permissible in law. Later this appeal was allowed by the Court.
- A couple of petitions were filed by students of private medical college who took admission in year 2019-2020 for course of MBBS.
- They were challenging the decision of their college where it was asked the students to pay the fees for third year while they were currently still pursuing their second year. During this period, the pandemic was going on.
- The petitioners argued that the college was demanding advance fees which is not permissible in law as the they demanded fees for a different year from that for which instructions were imparted.
- The respondent argued that it was the third calendar year since the students were admitted and hence, they were justified in their decision of collecting fees for the third year.
- Whether the educational institutions shall be permitted for collecting the third year’s fees at this stage?
- The appeal was allowed and the Court instructed the college not to demand fees for any year for which the instruction were currently not being imparted.
- The Court referred to the case of Islamic Academy of Education &Anr v State of Karnataka &Ors where it was held that the education institutions should only ask for fees of one year and not for the entire course. It was also observed that if the college collects fees for a longer period of time, then it should be kept in a fixed deposit in a nationalized bank and from which no loan or advance shall be granted as it was given for the benefit of students. This is also a statutory mandate u/s 8(3) of the 2017 Act.
- Referring to provisions of Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 and the Kerala Medical Education (Regulation and Control of Admission to Private Medical Educational Institutional) Act, 2017, the Court held that “allowing the educational institutions involved in these writ petitions to collect the decided yearly fees for any academic year other than the one for which directions are now being given would be completely inequitable and unfair.”
- Hence it was clear that the college cannot demand fees in advance for any year which is currently not in question and while demanding the fees for third year the college was unjust.
The Kerala High Court has barred private medical colleges in the state from collecting fees for any academic year other than the one currently being taught, ruling that collecting annual fees from students for the following year in advance when the previous year's studies have not been completed would be considered "profiteering."
The Court highlighted the fact that without a question, the covid epidemic created an uncommon or extraordinary circumstance with significant financial repercussions. The extraordinary circumstances, on the other hand, impacted not just educational institutions but also students and their financial guardians. The Court stated, "We believe it would be unconscionable on the part of the private medical educational institutes involved to seek the specified costs, completely disregarding the problems encountered by the students.”
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