Kerala High Court has banned private medical schools from pre-charging fees for next year
Collecting annual student fees for the following year in advance when the previous year’s studies were not completed by an institution would amount to a ‘profit’, the High Court of Kerala has withheld and prohibited faculties State private medical schools charge a fee for any academic year other than the one taught.
The High Court, however, made it clear that its instructions were only to work in the particular situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when the instructions given for a particular year in medical schools could not be completed within the specified time frame. due to the virus outbreak.
A bench of judges AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias CP declared that the fees were remuneration for a service rendered and if they are collected for a future period, it would be a payment for services still to be rendered and in such a situation, “The educational institutions would then resort to profit”.
“The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly caused an unusual or exceptional situation with significant financial implications. However, the exceptional situation has affected not only educational institutions but also the student community and their financial tutors.” We believe it would be. inadmissible on the part of the private medical educational establishments concerned to demand the determined fees, without taking into account the difficulties encountered by the students “, declared the magistracy.
The observations and orientations of the court intervened on several requests presented by the medical students, admitted to the 2019-2020 promotion of the MBBS course in various private medical schools, against the notices of request for costs for the third year of their course while they were still pursuing their second year which could not be completed in the allotted time due to the pandemic.
The students had argued by charging fees for a different year from that for which the instructions are given, the educational institutions concerned do receive the fees fixed in advance and this is not admissible.
The educational institutions, on the other hand, justified the request by arguing that it was the third calendar year since the admission of the student and, therefore, they are entitled to collect the determined annual fee for the third year.
The High Court noted that following the lockdown imposed by the state government in the wake of the global COVID pandemic, “there has been an inevitable interruption in the course of study and, as a result, while the months of the calendar year elapsed, there was no simultaneous progression in the months of instruction which constituted the academic year ”.
“This led to a situation where the petitioners (students) were called upon to pay the fees payable for the third year of their course when they were actually only pursuing the second year of their course,” he added. .
Referring to the various statutory provisions and to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Islamic Academy of Education and Another v. State of Karnataka and Others, the High Court declared that it was of the opinion that “it would be totally unfair and unjust to allow the educational institutions concerned by these requests to collect the annual dues determined under any academic year, with the exception of that for which instructions are being sent ”.
In the Islamic Academy case, the supreme court ruled that institutions would only charge fees for one year according to the rules and not charge fees for the entire course, the High Court noted.
The Supreme Court also observed that if for some reason charges have already been collected for a longer period, the amount thus collected must be kept in a fixed deposit in a nationalized bank against which no loan or advance can be granted. so that the interest accrued on it can benefit the students, the High Court said.
“It is therefore clear that educational establishments are not entitled to charge any amount in respect of fees for a period longer than the academic year in question. they would do just that, ”the bench said.
He subsequently ordered – “We therefore authorize these motions in writ by directing those among the private medical institutions defendants, where the petitioners in these motions by way of writ are studying, to refrain from requiring or collect academic fees from them in respect of any academic year other than the one for which instructions are currently given. COVID. “
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