Monday, February 25, 2019

SC Relief To Medical Student Who Lost An Academic Year Due To Cancellation Of Admissions Made By Kannur Medical College

"A student who has been deprived of a valuable year in pursuing her studies, cannot be left in the lurch." A student who has been deprived of a valuable year in pursuing her studies, cannot be left in the lurch, said the Supreme Court while considering a plea seeking compensation from a medical college for the loss of an academic year. After qualifying NEET, Riya George obtained admission in Kannur Medical College and the events that followed made her lose an academic year. Admission Supervisory Committee for Professional Colleges in Kerala cancelled all the admissions made by the Medical College for non compliance of mandatory requirements. The litigation that followed went upto to the Apex court, which upheld the order of the committee. Though the Governor of Kerala promulgated Kerala Professional Colleges (Regulation of Admissions in Medical Colleges) Ordinance 2017 to regularise MBBS admissions in certain medical colleges including the Kannur Medical College against the payment of Rs 3 lakhs per student as a regularisation fee, it was also struck down by the Apex Court.

Riya's father sought a refund of the documents and fees submitted to the college since she had joined another college for pursuing her MBBS course. He also instituted a petition before the Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee for Medical Education in Kerala, which was later withdrawn, on the ground that the matter has been settled between him and the college. He submitted before the committee that he had received Rs 20 lakhs. Later, he filed another complaint contending that though he had received an amount of Rs 20 lakhs but, that the remaining amount of Rs 1.65 lakhs had not been paid. The Committee held that the college was liable to return an amount of Rs 1.65 lakhs also.

In the meanwhile, some developments happened at the Apex court level. The Supreme Court ordered the college to return the double of the amount than the fees deposited by each one of 150 students with college. By a later order, the exact quantification of the amount in each case was left to be determined by the Committee. The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta initially noted that the petitioner have not made a full, fair and candid disclosure of all facts in the writ petition. The fact that while seeking a refund of the fees paid to the college, her father had executed several documents by which he had unconditionally withdrawn the claim, was certainly a material circumstance which ought to have been disclosed before this Court, the bench said. Justice to the petitioner should not become a victim of the prestige of this Court, said the bench while deciding not to dismiss the writ petition on this ground. The bench added: "There can be no manner of doubt that the petitioner is entitled to be compensated for the loss of a valuable year which was occasioned by the misdemeanors of the first respondent. A student who has been deprived of a valuable year in pursuing her studies, cannot be left in the lurch. It is in this background, that the explanation that the complaints made by the father of the petitioner were withdrawn only because there was an urgent need to obtain a refund of the fee, to enable the petitioner to secure admission to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences must be understood. Middle class parents do not have the luxury of resources. We must form a robust understanding of the circumstances in which the father of the petitioner withdrew his complaint. The Committee has in fact recorded a finding of fact that the withdrawal was not voluntary and was occasioned by the serious impediment in receiving a refund of fees." The bench then disposed the writ petition granting the petitioner liberty to pursue her claim before the Committee in terms of the consent order passed by the court.

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