The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that there is no absolute right for individuals or institutions to set up dental or medical colleges as the same are subject to reasonable regulations imposed by the Centre to ensure proper academic standards are maintained.
A bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai upheld a notification dated May 21, 2012, issued by the Dental Council of India substituting Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New or Higher Course of Studies or Training and Increase of Admission Capacity in Dental Colleges) Regulations, 2006.
By the impugned notification, a change was brought in by replacing the earlier unamended Regulation 6(2)(h), under which a person intending to open a dental college is eligible to apply if he/she/it owned and managed a general hospital of not less than 100 beds.
However, under the amended provision, it had been made mandatory for an applicant to attach its proposed dental college with the government or private medical college, approved or recognised by the Medical Council of India; which is located at a distance of 10km by road from the proposed dental college. The distance of 10km has now been increased to 30km, by an amendment dated July 5, 2017.
The 2012 amendment was challenged before the Rajasthan High Court by Biyani Shikshan Samiti whose application for starting a dental college was rejected by the Union government and the Dental Council for not fulfilling the requirements.
A division bench set aside the impugned notification aggrieved by which the Dental Council of India appealed in the apex court.
Setting aside the high court order, Justice B.R. Gavai who authored the judgment said: “…the amended Regulation cannot be said to be one, which is manifestly arbitrary, so as to permit the Court to interfere with it. On the contrary, we find that the amended Regulation 6(2)(h) has a direct nexus with the object to be achieved, i.e., providing adequate teaching and training facilities to the students. The Division Bench of the High Court has erred in substituting its wisdom with that of the rulemaking body, which is an expert body. We are, therefore, of the considered view that it was not permissible for the Division Bench of the High Court to enter into an area of experts and hold that the unamended provisions ought to have been preferred over the amended provisions.”
Justice Gavai referred to the 11-judge Constitution bench ruling of 2002 in the “T.M.A. Pai Foundation and others vs. State of Karnataka and others” case wherein it was held that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated.
“However, such regulatory measures must, in general, be to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration. The impugned notification, undoubtedly, is made in order to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards and infrastructure and as such, the judgment of the Constitution bench of this court in the case of T.M.A. Pai Foundation and others (supra),…” Justice Gavai said.
Accordingly the bench said: “The impugned judgment and order dated 24th April, 2018 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court is quashed and set aside.”