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Curb capitation fee

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At last, the Supreme Court has intervened to put an end to the practice of collecting capitation fee by private engineering, medical and pharmacy...

At last, the Supreme Court has intervened to put an end to the practice of collecting capitation fee by private engineering, medical and pharmacy colleges in the country. Expressing serious concern over unfair practices in admissions being followed by these professional colleges, the apex court has asked the Parliament to enact legislation to curb the malpractices. “Such legislation is an extreme necessity and it is the demand of society,” the Bench consisting of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri has observed.

Their response comes in the wake of a petition filed by Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh, seeking to quash a July 13 letter issued by the Medical Council of India by which the permission granted for renewal of admission for additional intake of students for the academic session 2013-2014 was revoked. Dismissing the plea, the Supreme Court said, collection of large amount by way of capitation fee running into crores of rupees for MBBS and post-graduate seats, exorbitant fee, donation etc, by many self- financing institutions, have kept the meritorious financially poor students away from those institutions.

The capitation fee issue is not new and it has been challenged many times in courts of law and a few States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi etc. have even passed laws prohibiting demand/collection of capitation fee. But those who charge it, generally under the garb of institution development fund or under the management quota, again reserved for the wealthy and NRI students, get away with violations by paying a little fine or by pulling a few strings at the top. This happens when the laws are lax and their implementation is tardy.
One reason for this state of affairs is many post-graduate colleges are autonomous in nature and the Central government’s policy of divesting higher education to private institutions which, under the name of developing infrastructure and facilities charge students exorbitantly. In such a scenario, the Supreme Court asking the Central government to enact legislations to check malpractices in engineering and medical admissions is more than timely.
But how can it implement them in the absence of proper mechanism which, at first place, has to be strengthened at states’ level followed by a more pragmatic and hassle-free admission policy. Curbing capitation fee is wanted as much as ending other practices such as donations being demanded even by nursery schools. Effective laws alone are not enough; the government should also be in a position to provide quality and affordable education to all those who want to pursue. Failure to do so leads to unhealthy trends.

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