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Adesh University fee for medical seats ‘unethical, commercial’: Punjab’s reply to HC

The Punjab government has opposed the “hefty” fee being charged by Adesh University, Bathinda, for its medical courses, in its reply to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The private university has all seats under the management quota and is charging Rs 11.9 lakh for the MBBS course with stipulation of 10% annual hike.

The HC had sought reply from the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government as well as the university on the latter’s plea against the state medical education department’s February notification that sought to bring all private medical institutes under the ambit of its 2006 law that regulates fee and seats.

Citing the contrast in fee structure between sought-after and other courses in Adesh University, the department of medical education’s reply says, “For MBBS, the fee is Rs 11.9 lakh a year, for BDS Rs 1.65 lakh a year and, for courses such as anatomy and physiology, it is nil (for Indian students),” adding that, “This shows the fee structure of Adesh University is unethical and has been fixed as per demand and supply and is purely commercial.”

The department added, “It (the university) cannot be allowed to fleece the students by charging exorbitant fees.”

The department has also appealed to the high court to constitute a committee of independent auditors to scrutinise the university’s records.

Congress-turned-Akali leader Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, who lost the election from Talwandi Sabo last year, is one of the members of its governing body.

Sidhu had switched loyalty to Shiromani Akali Dal in 2014 after winning on a Congress ticket in 2012. Adesh Medical College was converted into a university by an Act in 2012.

Prior to the Act, its seats were divided in ratio of 50:50, with fee of Rs 2.2 lakh for government quota and Rs 6.6 lakh for management quota, as notified by the government.

The notification issued in February this year (by then secretary Sanjay Kumar) brought all private medical institutes, including Adesh, Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (SGRD), Amritsar, and Christian Medical College (CMC), Ludhiana, under the ambit of Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of admission, fixation of fee & making of reservation) Act, 2006.

But the CMC contended that being a minority unaided institution, as per Supreme Court’s ruling, the state has no authority to fix its quota. SGRD and Adesh went to HC and the next hearing on the case is on Tuesday.

Adesh University is governed by its own university statute; so is the SGRD, a minority, unaided institution run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which was set up as a university through a 2016 Act.

As health minister Brahm Mohindra and secretary Kumar differed on the notification, the file moved from the chief minister’s office to chief secretary to the legal remembrancer (LR) and finally, on June 28, to the AG office, a week before counselling was to begin from July 5.

AG Atul Nanda in his opinion said the high court in its ruling in favour of Adesh University in 2014 had stated that the 2006 Act applies to institutions, not universities. Since the state never challenged the HC ruling, the 2006 Act will not apply to it. Nor to the SGRD, whose Act says its fee will be fixed as per the 2006 Act but not number of seats.

In case of CMC, the application of 2006 Act would be contrary to the SC’s verdict, the AG has opined.

To avoid “confusion” this year, Nanda recommended to amend the 2006 Act and bring all private medical universities under it.

Since government too fixes fee of its institutions and may invite conflict of interest if it regulates fees, he has advised to set up a state regulator to examine justification of fee charged

by both state as well as private universities. The proposal for having a regulator, a poll promise of the Congress, is hanging fire as a cabinet sub-committee headed by Mohindra is still to firm it up.





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