Education is not a profit-making business and tuition fees should always be low, the Supreme Court said while upholding the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The state government had increased the tuition fees in medical colleges by Rs 24 lakh per year, but the Supreme Court stayed the decision. A bench of Justices M R Shah and Sudhanshu Dhulia ordered the petitioner Narayan Medical College and Andhra Pradesh to deposit the same in the registry of the court within a period of six weeks while imposing a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioners. The bench said that increasing the fee to Rs 24 lakh per annum, that is, seven times the fee fixed earlier, is not at all appropriate. Education is not a profit-making business. Tuition fees should always be affordable.
The apex court made the remarks while dismissing a petition filed by the college against the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which had set aside the government's decision to hike tuition fees for MBBS students. The High Court had held that the fee cannot be increased/fixed without the recommendations/report of the Committee considering the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee Rules, 2006. The apex court said that while determining or reviewing the tuition fees, it is necessary to consider several factors such as the location of the professional institution, nature of the professional course, cost of infrastructure available.
It states that the college management cannot be allowed to retain the amount collected as per illegal government order. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, both the appeals fail and are liable to be dismissed. However, an amount of Rs 5 lakh as fine shall be deposited by the appellant and the Government of Andhra Pradesh in the Registry of this Court within a period of six weeks.