Education is not a business to earn profit and tuition fees shall always be affordable, the Supreme Court has said while upholding 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.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and Sudhanshu Dhulia imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner, Narayana Medical College, and Andhra Pradesh to be deposited with the court registry within a period of six weeks.
"To enhance the fee to Rs 24 lakh per annum i.e., seven times more than the fee fixed earlier was not justifiable at all. Education is not the business to earn profit. The tuition fee shall always be affordable," the bench said.
The top court's observation came while dismissing a plea filed by the college against an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which set aside the government's decision to enhance the tuition fee of MBBS students.
The high court had held that considering the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (for Professional Courses offered in Private Un-Aided Professional Institutions) Rules, 2006, the fee cannot be enhanced/fixed without the recommendations/report of the committee.
The top court said several factors such as the location of the professional institution, nature of the professional course, cost of available infrastructure are required to be considered by the Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee while determining or reviewing the tuition fees.
It said the college management cannot be permitted to retain the amount recovered/collected pursuant to the illegal government order.
"In view of the above and for the reasons stated above both the appeals fail and the same deserve to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed, however, with cost which is quantified at Rs 5 lakh to be equally paid by the appellant as well as the State of Andhra Pradesh to be deposited with the Registry of this Court within a period of six weeks," the bench said.