MMU Medical college excessive fee charging case referred back to Commission for fresh hearing

Shimla, July 22

The matter of charging excess fees of approximately Rs. 103.97 Crore from a batch of MBBS students who passed between the academic sessions of 2013-14 to 2019-20 by Maharishi Markandeshwar Medical College, Kumarhatti, district Solan (MMU), is once again before the H.P. Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission. A new order is expected to be passed soon by the two-member commission’s new bench.

This development follows an order issued by the division bench of Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua and Justice Satyen Vaidya of the Himachal Pradesh High Court on May 24, 2023, in response to a petition filed by MMU against the commission’s decision on a complaint lodged on February 6, 2021, by two former MBBS students of the university.

Also read: Matter of Rs 103. 96 Cr excess charge from MBBS students by MMU, reaches State HC

The High Court decided to remand the matter back to the commission on May 24, 2023, for a fresh hearing, as the court found that the order passed against the university lacked the required quorum of the constituted commission bench due to one member’s refusal to sign the order.

During the High Court hearing, it came to light that one of the commission members, Dr. Shashi Kant Sharma, had not disclosed that his daughter was an ex-student of Maharishi Marakandeshwar University, Kumarhatti, Distt. Solan (H.P.) from the batch 2014 to 2019 of the MBBS Course, and that his son-in-law had also worked as an Assistant Professor at the university for the last year. Dr. Sharma refrained from signing the order due to this conflict of interest.

The High Court, in its 13-page verdict, emphasized the importance of justice being done and seen to be done. It questioned the rejection of the petitioner’s application seeking the suspension of proceedings in the complaints filed by respondents’ No. 5 and 6, solely on the grounds of lacking provisions of law on merits, considering the admitted factual scenario.

Also read: MM Univ. medical college slapped 45L fine for charging 103. 96 Cr excess fees from MBBS students

In response to the complaints, the university had appended a note dated June 9, 2022, wherein respondent No. 3 (commission member) practically admitted his interest in the matter and stated that he would not be able to participate in the pronouncement of the order on June 9, 2022.

The High Court also imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000 on the university, which was paid to the complainants (Dr. Nividita and Dr. Yamini) by June 19, 2023.

The HC provided partial relief to the university, acknowledging its submission on the commission’s composition or quorum. It directed the commission to reexamine the complaints of respondents No. 5 and 6 in accordance with the law.

Furthermore, the High Court set aside the June 9, 2022 order (annexure P-4 and 5) and ruled that the commission should consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of two members with eminence in public life or the field of higher education, or who have served as Secretary or above to the Government of Himachal Pradesh or held equivalent posts in the Government of India for three years or more.

The central issue raised by the complainants (respondents No. 5 and 6) was that the MBBS Course duration, as per the prospectus, was 4.5 years, and they should not have been charged tuition fees, university charges, and hostel fees beyond this period. The petitioners, however, contested these claims.

Previously, the commission had ordered the university to refund the excess fees amounting to Rs. 103.97 Crore and imposed a penalty of Rs. 45 lakhs on MMU and MMC for charging excessive fees from the complainants.

Rather than complying with the refund and penalty orders, MMU and MMC had chosen to file a civil writ petition before the High Court, seeking a suspension of the proceedings in the complaints.

Now, with the matter being heard afresh by the new commission bench consisting of Major General Atul Kaushik and new member Lalit Kumar, the affected complainants are hopeful for a just outcome.

In light of the High Court’s directions and the ongoing proceedings, the university has already deposited the cost of Rs. 2,5000/-, which was recently imposed by the High Court on June 19, 2023.



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