New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over capitation fees charged by medical schools and said the practice is still widespread today despite the enactment of laws prohibiting it.
The High Court also said that private medical schools are strictly prohibited from accepting payment of fees in cash in order to avoid charging capitation fees.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said it could not overlook the harsh realities of the commercialization of education and the perverse practices adopted by many institutions to earn large sums.
Head tax means any amount, however named, paid or collected directly or indirectly in excess of the prescribed fee.
“This Court observed that it cannot condone the harsh realities of the commercialization of education and the perverse practices adopted by many institutions to earn large sums. This Court was of the view that the method of Admission needs to be regulated so that admissions are merit-based and transparent whether to control the imposition of capitation fees and profit.
“Although state governments have enacted laws outlawing the practice of charging capitation fees and making it a crime, the harsh reality that cannot be ignored is that capitation fees charged for admission to medical schools still prevail today,” the bench also including Judge BR Gavai said.
The High Court observation came during the hearing of a case for the creation of a web portal which would serve as a platform for aggrieved persons to provide information relating to any claims for capitation fees made by private medical schools.
The bench ordered the creation of a web portal under the aegis of the Supreme Court where any information about private medical schools charging capitation fees can be provided by students.
The portal is to be maintained and regulated by the National Computing Center (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, he said.
“State and Union Territory Chief Secretaries are required to publish the details of the web portal in English as well as in vernacular newspapers at the time of admission. to their parents at council time informing them of the availability of the web portal.
“When setting the timetable for the admission process, the National Medical Commission and the Dental Council of India must ensure that the counseling for all cycles including the wandering vacancy cycle is completed at least two weeks before the last date of admission.. The names of the students who are recommended by the authority for admission into the vacancy of the wandering round shall be made public with their assigned rank in the NEET examination” , said the bench.
Admissions should be made strictly on the basis of merit and if admitted otherwise, appropriate action will be taken against private medical schools, he said.
“When setting fees, State Fee Setting Committees should take into account all components of the fee, leaving no room for directorates to charge any additional amount outside of what has been prescribed by the Setting Committee fees from time to time.
“In the event that management intends to charge additional amounts beyond the price range set by the Fee Setting Committee, or for anything not included in the structure set by the Fee Setting Committee , it can only be done with the agreement of the fee setting committee,” the bench said.
He said students or anyone else aggrieved are free to report medical school collection of cash fees on the web portal.
The Director General of Health Services and other concerned authorities of the State Governments should ensure that the All India Quota and State Quota council cycles are carried out strictly according to the set schedule, the bench said.