Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Aug 04, 2005
Law soon to treat unhealthy admission practices
THE PROBLEM of private medical colleges fleecing parents with the weapons of fee and management `quota' policy may become a thing of the past, if a law the Ministry of Health and Human Resource Development is drafting, gets into the statute books by next year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
The issue figured during Question Hour when BJP members Mr Hansraj G. Ahir and Mr Ganesh Singh sought to know from the Health Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, whether the Supreme Court had issued any instructions to the Government to enact a law governing entry into medical colleges and their fee-structure.
The Minister said that on August 14, 2003, the apex court had clarified in the Islamic Academy of Education case that a State government can prescribe the percentage of seats in private professional colleges that can be filled by the management.
The remaining seats are to be filled on merit through common entrance tests (CETs) conducted by the State agencies.
The management seats are also to be filled through a CET to be conducted by the association of all colleges in the State or, in the absence of such association, by the CET conducted by the State government.
As the judgment further clarified that each institution would have the freedom to fix its own fee structure, the private medical colleges had raised their fees and planned to enhance the management quota so as to rake in more income.
But the Minister hastened to add that pending a Central legislation to regulate the private medical colleges, each State government is required to set up a committee under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge to decide whether the fee proposed by an institution is justified and does not amount to profiteering or charging of capitation fee.
The State panel can approve the fee structure proposed by the institution or suggest an alternative that shall be binding on the institute for three years.
But when the MPs sought to know how many States had formed such a committee, the Minister reiterated the need for an early Central legislation to regulate the activities of the private professional colleges.
But the agitated members pointed out that in some private colleges, managements have drawn up proposal to raise the 15 per cent quota for non-resident Indians (NRI) to 30 per cent by accepting capitation fee which hovers around Rs 14 lakh for a seat.
Some members sought to ascertain how many States have formed Committee to oversee fee and quota structures of private professional colleges.
Mr Mohan Singh (SP) said that despite the Supreme Court clarification, some colleges charged Rs 25-30 lakh as capitation fee.
To this, Dr Ramadoss said: "Capitation fee is illegal. If anybody is found taking capitation fee, I will take action if the members bring to my notice" and maintained that the "fee structure provided by the State government concerned is legal".
When this assurance failed to cool the MPs, the Speaker Mr Somnath Chatterjee, reminded the members "the Minister has made an open offer and if you know any case, report to him".
Considering that several private professional colleges, particularly in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, are run by politicians either directly, through their nominees or with their blessings, the MPs' demand for action to regulate such institutions is significant.
If the Government brings in quickly a law to curb the unhealthy practices in the admission to medical colleges, the ruling United Progressive Alliance would have done a yeoman's service to the people.
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