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SC says Annamalai is a private deemed university, fee restrictions don’t apply

Upholding the Madras High Court’s verdict, the Supreme Court has ruled that Annamalai University is a private deemed university. The top court has also directed the Tamil Nadu committee to decide on a fee structure within two weeks.

Hearing an appeal filed on the Madras High Court order in 2016, the SC bench directed that the fee fixed by the state committee be implemented retrospectively from 2014.

The case reached the Supreme Court after the Madras HC ruled that Annamalai university is not a government university and hence the Capitation Fee Act, 1992, and the restrictions on fee determination imposed by the Act will not be applicable to the university.

Background

149 students pursuing MBBS, BDS and PG courses at the Raja Muthiah Medical College which is a constituent of Annamalai University, had filed a petition opposing the fees charged by the college. In their petition the students mentioned that the University had fixed Rs 5,54,370 and Rs 3,50,370 for MBBS and BDS courses respectively instead of Rs 12,990 and Rs 10,290 which the government charges in a government college for MBBS and BDS courses. They had sought the court to issue directions to the university to not charge fees in excess of what is charged by government medical colleges and to refund the excess fee collected by the college.

The division bench of Madras HC consisting of Justices Huluvadi G Ramesh and MV Muralidharan heard the case and had ruled that Annamalai University was not a government institution and that the provisions of the Capitation Fee Act 1992 do not apply to it.

Details of the HC order

The HC order states, “Section 4 (13) of the 2013 Act empowers the University to fix the fee for various courses and to demand and receive the same. Accordingly, the University has demanded the fee as prescribed by the Senate.”

The HC had hence dismissed the students’ petition stating that it cannot be said that the University has violated the statute. The court had also mentioned that the state government had taken over the control of the university to prevent it from closure and that it should not imply that the University will collect the fee stipulated for government medical colleges.

The HC in its order had also described the history of the University that Raja Muthiah Medical College was originally designed to be a private unaided professional college.

It also observed that since the University is running on deficit financing, the question of profiteering and commercialisation of education does not arise. Hence, the Capitation Fee Act 1992 also does not apply to the University.

The court added that once the students had submitted the application based on the prospectus issued by the institution, they are bound by the terms and conditions specified in the prospectus. Even the court does not have the right to alter the terms mentioned in the prospectus, the court had said.

Annamalai University was established in 1928, under the auspices of the Annamalai University Act, 1928. After it was closed in 2012, the Tamil Nadu government passed the Annamalai University Act in 2013, thereby bringing the university under the state’s control.

Source: The News Minute

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