The Supreme Court today upheld the provisions of a Madhya Pradesh law which enables government to have 50 per cent shares in management seats in private dental colleges, saying there was no violation of right of autonomy of educational institutions in Common Entrance Test (CET) being conducted by the state or in fixing fee.
“There was no violation of right of autonomy of the educational institutions in the CET being conducted by the State or an agency nominated by the State or in fixing fee.
“The right of a state to do so is subject to a central law. Once the notifications under the Central statutes for conducting the CET called NEET become operative, it will be a matter between the States and the Union, which will have to be sorted out on the touchstone of Article 254 artof the Constitution,” a Constitution bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave said.
“The said Committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under MCI Act. All policy decisions of MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee. Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions,” the bench said adding that the committee will function till the Centre puts in place any other appropriate mechanism in this regard.
“Initially the Committee will function for a period of one year, unless suitable mechanism is brought in place earlier which will substitute the said Committee,” the bench also comprising Justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, A K Goel and R Banumathi, said.
The apex court’s order came on a plea of unaided private medical and dental colleges challenging the order of Madhya Pradesh High Court which had upheld the validity of the law aimed to regulate the admission and fee in PG courses in private professional educational institutions besides provisions for reservation of seats.
The apex court further said that holding of CET under the “control of the State” does not impinge autonomy of private institutions and admission is still “in the hands of these institutions.”
“It is beyond comprehension that merely by assuming the power to hold CET, fundamental right of the appellants to admit the students is taken away. Likewise, when it comes to fixation of fee, as already dealt with in detail, the main purpose is that State acts as a regulator and satisfies itself that the fee which is proposed by the educational institution does not have the element of profiteering and also that no capitation fee etc. is charged.
“In fact, this dual function of regulatory nature is going to advance the public interest inasmuch as those students who are otherwise meritorious but are not in a position to meet unreasonable demands of capitation fee etc. are not deprived of getting admissions. The impugned provisions, therefore, are aimed at seeking laudable objectives in larger public interest,” the bench said
It said that with advent of liberalization, government has encouraged establishments of privately managed institutions with the hope that the private sector will play vital role in the field of education with philanthropic approach and use it for the purpose of profiteering.
“It is, therefore, to be borne in mind is that occupation of education cannot be treated at par with other economic activities. In this field, State cannot remain a mute spectator and has to necessarily step in in order to prevent exploitation, privatization and commercialisation by the private sector.
“It would be pertinent to mention that even in respect of those economic activities which are undertaken by the private sector essentially with the objective of profit making (and there is nothing bad about it), while throwing open such kind of business activities in the hands of private sector, the State has introduced regulatory regime as well by providing Regulations under the relevant statutes,” the bench said.