New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday called for setting up of a three-member panel headed by Justice (retd) R.M. Lodha to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) regarding admissions to private unaided dental colleges in Madhya Pradesh.
Specifically, the panel will oversee the admission criteria in private unaided dental colleges amid allegations of state interference in various aspects of admissions.
Apart from Lodha, the Supreme Court-appointed committee will comprise Dr. Shiv Sarin working at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) and former comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) Vinod Rai.
“The committee shall be in operation for a period of one year unless the Parliament enacts a mechanism for the admission process of private unaided dental colleges earlier,” the order said.
A five-judge constitutional bench headed by Justice Anil R. Dave which had been hearing the matter for over five years also upheld a decision of the Madhya Pradesh high court which laid down the validity of regulations governing admission of students in post graduate courses in private educational institutions.
“I hold that the state has legislative competence to enact the impugned legislation-act of 2007 to hold common entrance test for admission to professional educational institutions and to determine the fee and the high court has rightly upheld the validity of the impugned legislation.” said Justice R. Banumathi in the judgment.
Monday’s court verdict came on a plea by various private dental colleges in Madhya Pradesh which had challenged the provisions of the state Act relating to admission, fixation of fee, reservation and eligibility for admission.
The unaided dental colleges had maintained that being unaided colleges, it was their fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India to lay down the eligibility criteria for admission and fix the fees of students.
Under the provisions of the state Act, admissions to private unaided colleges would be conducted through the common entrance test (CET), which the state government partly regulated in terms of admission, fees, reservations etc.
The impugned judgment of the Madhya Pradesh high court extended power to the state in admission process to ensure that there was no profiteering or commercialization of education. It also extended to the state power (in larger public interest) with respect to distribution of seats to weaker sections by reservations.
The verdict comes days after another order paving the way for National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), a single common entrance for admissions to medical and dental courses in the country.
This is the third panel to be headed by Lodha—he also heads the panel for making recommendations to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for cleaning up the cricketing system and another over initiating recovery proceedings against persons who had invested in PACL’s illegal investment schemes.
The case will be revisited after a year for any further directions.