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Education not business to earn profit, tuition fee must be affordable, rules Supreme Court

New Delhi, November 9

Maintaining that education is not a business to earn profit, the Supreme Court has ruled that tuition fee has to be always affordable. A Bench led by Justice MR Shah upheld the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the state government’s decision to enhance the tuition fee in medical colleges to Rs 24 lakh per annum.

To enhance the fee to Rs 24 lakh per annum i.e. seven times more than the fee fixed earlier is not justifiable at all. Education is not the business to earn profit. The tuition fee should always be affordable,” it said, dismissing Narayana Medical College’s petition challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order setting aside the government’s decision to enhance the tuition fee of MBBS students.

The top court on Monday upheld the High Court’s direction for refunding the balance of the tuition fee amount collected under government order dated September 6, 2017, after adjusting the fee paid pursuant to the earlier determination as per an order dated June 18, 2011.

Holding that the college management could not be permitted to retain the amount recovered or collected pursuant to the illegal government order, the Bench said the High Court had not committed any error in issuing such directions.

It also imposed a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh each on the petitioner college and the Andhra Pradesh Government and asked them to deposit the amount with the court’s Registry in six weeks. The top court agreed with the High Court that considering the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (AFRC) for Professional Courses offered in Private Unaided Professional Institutions Rules, 2006, the fee cannot be enhanced or fixed without the recommendations of the committee.

It said determination of fee or review of fee shall be within the parameters of the fixation rules and shall have direct nexus on the factors mentioned in Rule 4 of the Rules, 2006. Location of the professional institution; nature of the professional course; cost of available infrastructure; expenditure on administration and maintenance; a reasonable surplus required for growth and development of the institution; and the revenue foregone on account of waiver of fee, if any, in respect of students belonging to the reserved category and other economically weaker sections of the society had to be taken into account, it said.

Noting that all these factors were required to be considered by the AFRC while determining or reviewing the tuition fees, the Bench said the High Court was “absolutely justified” in quashing and setting aside the government order dated September 6, 2017.

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