Accumulating annual charges from college students for the following 12 months prematurely when the earlier 12 months’s research haven’t been accomplished by an establishment would quantity to “profiteering”, the Kerala Excessive Courtroom has held and restrained non-public medical faculties within the state from amassing charges for any educational 12 months apart from the one which was being taught.
A bench of Justices A Ok Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias C P mentioned conceptually charges have been remuneration for a service rendered and whether it is collected for a future interval, it will be a fee for companies but to be rendered and in such a scenario, ‘the academic establishments would then be resorting to profiteering”.
“The COVID pandemic, no doubt, led to an uncommon or distinctive scenario fraught with monetary implications. The distinctive scenario, nevertheless, affected not solely the academic establishments but additionally the coed neighborhood and their financier guardians,” the courtroom mentioned.
“We really feel it will be unconscionable on the a part of the non-public medical instructional establishments involved to demand the decided charges, unmindful of the difficulties confronted by the scholars,” the bench mentioned.
The courtroom’s observations and instructions got here on a number of petitions moved by the medical college students, admitted to the 2019-2020 batch of MBBS course in numerous non-public medical faculties, in opposition to the demand notices for a price in respect of the third 12 months of their course after they have been nonetheless pursuing their second 12 months which couldn’t be accomplished inside the allotted time because of the pandemic.
The scholars had contended by demanding charges in respect of a 12 months completely different from that for which directions are imparted, the academic establishments involved are successfully amassing the decided charges prematurely and this isn’t permissible.
The academic establishments, alternatively, justified the demand by arguing that it’s the third calendar 12 months for the reason that pupil was admitted and, therefore, they’re entitled to gather the annual price decided for the third 12 months. The excessive courtroom famous that because of the lockdown imposed by the state authorities within the wake of the worldwide COVID pandemic, “there was an unavoidable interruption to the course of examine and therefore, whereas the months within the calendar 12 months handed by, there was no simultaneous progress within the instruction months that constituted the tutorial 12 months”.
“This led to the scenario the place the petitioners (pupil) have been referred to as upon to remit the price payable for the third 12 months of their course after they have been successfully pursuing solely the second 12 months of their course,” it added.
Referring to the assorted statutory provisions and the Supreme Courtroom resolution within the Islamic Academy of Training and One other v. State of Karnataka and Others case, the excessive courtroom mentioned it was of the view that “it will be wholly inequitable and unjust to allow the academic establishments involved in these writ petitions to gather the decided annual charges in respect of any educational 12 months save that for which directions are at present being imparted”.
Within the Islamic Academy case, the apex courtroom had held that establishments shall cost charges just for one 12 months in accordance with the foundations and shall not cost the charges for the whole course, the excessive courtroom famous. The apex courtroom had additionally noticed that if for some motive, charges have already been collected for an extended interval, the quantity so collected shall be saved in a hard and fast deposit in a nationalized financial institution in opposition to which no mortgage or advance could also be granted in order that the curiosity accrued thereupon could enure to the good thing about the scholars, the excessive courtroom mentioned.
“It’s clear, subsequently, that the academic establishments aren’t justified in amassing any quantity in direction of charges for a interval longer than the tutorial 12 months in query. In amassing the third 12 months price, whereas the coed is pursuing the second 12 months of the course, they’d be doing simply that,” the bench mentioned.
It, thereafter, directed — “We, subsequently, enable these writ petitions by directing these among the many respondent non-public medical establishments, the place the petitioners in these writ petitions are finding out, to chorus from demanding or amassing educational charges from them in respect of any educational 12 months apart from the one for which directions are at present being imparted.
“We make it clear that the instructions issued on this judgment are to function solely within the aforesaid peculiar scenario thrown up by the COVID pandemic.”