'Notify medical students early about fee structure', HC chides regulator

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Kochi: The Kerala High Court has strongly criticised the fee-regulatory committee for fixing fees for the self-financing medical colleges, without adhering to the guidelines, this year too. It flagged the notification of the college fee for the academic year 2020-21 without informing the students in advance. 

The court instructed that the fees demanded by the colleges should be notified to the fullest extent possible on the website of the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations (CEE) and online portals.  

When the details of the fee structure are received from the colleges, these should be updated on the website, the HC further instructed. 

The committee fixed the fee for the year 2020-21, while considering the previous year's fee and inflation rate. Based on this, the CEE issued the notification too. Also, it reminded that the fee was provisional. 

The court, however, said this was unfortunate. The HC pointed out the previous court orders that said the students should be informed in advance about the fee structure.

The court also ordered the panel to seek an undertaking from the students at the time of admission that they would remit the fee fixed by the court or other authorities.

The division bench of Justice A M Shafeeq and Justice P Gopinath passed the interim order after considering petitions, including the plea by Kozhikode-based KMCT College of Engineering, filed against the fee-regulatory committee's order of November 4

The court said that it was condemnable that the committee did not take action by honouring the spirit of the HC order. The government should take serious note of this. It should also be checked if the committee members have any other agenda. The court further said it should be ensured that the committee functioned as per the norms. 

During disputes in the previous years, the High Court had issued guidelines over fee determination. The issue even reached the Supreme Court. Citing the Supreme Court's interim order, the committee took action this year without heeding the HC order.

However, the HC pointed out that the committee had no hurdles in determining the fee as per the High Court's guidelines and that the SC had not stalled this. 

The HC also said that the case should be concluded soon and that the affidavits should be filed within two weeks. 

The case will be considered again on November 30.

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