New Delhi: The Supreme Court expressed concern on Thursday over capitation fee charged by medical colleges and said the practice is prevalent even today despite enacting legislations prohibiting it.
The top court also said private medical colleges are strictly prohibited from accepting payment of fees in cash in order to avoid charging of capitation fee.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said it cannot shut its eyes to the hard realities of commercialisation of education and evil practices being adopted by many institutions to earn large amounts.
Capitation fee means any amount, by whatever name called, paid or collected directly or indirectly in excess of the fee prescribed.
"This Court observed that it cannot shut its eyes to the hard realities of commercialisation of education and evil practices being adopted by many institutions to earn large amounts. This Court was of the opinion that the method of admission has to be regulated so that the admissions are based on merit and transparency if the charging of capitation fee and profiteering has to be kept in check.
"In spite of the state governments enacting legislations prohibiting the practice of charging capitation fee and making it an offence, the stark reality which cannot be ignored is that capitation fee being charged for admission to medical colleges is prevalent even today," the bench also comprising Justice B R Gavai said.
The top court's observation came while hearing a matter of setting up a web portal which would serve as a platform for the aggrieved persons to provide information relating to any demand of capitation fee made by private medical colleges.
The bench directed that a web portal under the aegis of the Supreme Court has to be set up wherein any information about the private medical colleges charging capitation fees can be furnished by students.
The portal has to be maintained and regulated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, it said.
"The Chief Secretaries of the States and Union Territories are directed to publish the details about the web portal in the English as well as vernacular newspapers at the time of admission. In addition, a pamphlet should be compulsorily given to the students and their parents at the time of counselling informing them about the availability of the web portal.
"While fixing the schedule for the admission process, the National Medical Commission and the Dental Council of India have to make sure that the counselling for all the rounds, including the stray vacancy round, is completed at least two weeks before the last date of admission. The names of students who are recommended by the authority for admission in the stray round vacancy have to be made public along with rank allotted to them in the NEET exam," the bench said.
The admissions should be made strictly on the basis of merit and in the event of any admission to the contrary, suitable action shall be taken against the private medical colleges, it said.
"While fixing fee, the fee fixation committees of the states should take into account all the components of fee, leaving no scope for managements to charge any additional amount apart from what has been prescribed by the fee fixation committee from time to time.
"In the event that the management intends to charge additional amounts over and above the price band fixed by the Fee Fixation Committee, or for any component not included in the structure fixed by the Fee Fixation Committee, the same can only be done with the concurrence of the Fee Fixation Committee," the bench said.
It said the students or any other aggrieved persons are at liberty to report on the web portal regarding collection of fees in cash by any medical colleges.
The Director General of Health Services and other authorities concerned of the state governments should ensure that the All-India Quota and State Quota rounds of counselling are completed strictly in accordance with the time schedule that is fixed, the bench said.