The four self-financing deemed universities of Puducherry, which charged up to 50 lakh as fee for their post graduate medical courses, were asked today by the Madras High Court to admit students in these courses at an annual fee of Rs 10 lakhs. In an interim order, a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder also asked the UGC and the HRD HRD Ministry to urgently set up a fee committee to examine and fix the fees structure for these deemed universities. The bench asked the students, who have already cleared their tests for the post graduate medical courses but were not able to secure the admission owing to the "exorbitant" fees, to take admissions by June 19 evening and start attending their classes from the next day. The students would pay the "differential fee," if any, to the courses after the same is decided by the fee committee set up by the HRD ministry and the UGC. The bench gave its order on a public interest lawsuit filed by advocate V B R Menon on the issue of "exorbitant fees" between Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh by the self-financing deemed universities for their post graduate courses. The court ordered drastic slashing of the fees charged by the self-financing deemed universities on the petitioner's contention that "the fees for the PG courses in private medical colleges is Rs 5.50 lakh per annum in for the state quota students and Rs 14 lakh for those from the management quota." "This court cannot shut its eyes to impediments in the way of individual litigation by young students.
This court can take note of the facts pleaded by a public spirited citizen and suo motu pass orders to redress the grievances of the student community," the bench said. The bench passed the order in an extra-ordinary situation days after the deemed universities had closed the admission despite many seats remaining vacant owing to the students' failure in arranging the huge fees. The court rejected the self-financing deemed universities contention that they charge such a huge fee to provide much better facilities to students. "When self-financed private medical colleges can survive charging fees between Rs 5.50 lakh to Rs 14 lakh, we find it difficult to accept that fee of Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 50 lakh per annum is reasonable," the bench said. The court asked the HRD ministry and the UGC to set up the fee panel "forthwith" and urgently. "There is an immense urgency and we expect that the UGC and HRD ministry shall forthwith constitute a committee to regulate the fees chargeable by the self-financed deemed universities after giving all stake holders including the universities adequate opportunity of representation", the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing to July 14.
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