Matter of charging an excess fee of around Rs. 103.97 Cr from MBBS students by MMU before the commission again

The matter of charging an excess fee of approximately amount to Rs. 1,03,96,53,000/- from a batch of MBBS students passed in the academic session of 2013-14 to-2019 & 20 by Maharishi Markandeshwar Medical College, Kumarhatti, district Solan (or MMU) is before the H.P. Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission again and new order likely to be passed by the two-member commission new bench soon.

This outcome is a follow-up of an order passed by the division bench of Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua and Justice Satyen Vaidya of Himachal Pradesh High Court, on May 24, 2023, in a petition filed by the MMU against the decision of the commission on the complaint of February 6, 2021, by the two former MBBS students of the university.

The High Court has decided to remand back the matter to the commission on May 24, 2023, to hear this matter afresh as the court found that the order passed against the university not having a quorum of the constituted bench of commission as one of the members of the commission decided to not put his signature on the order.

The aggrieved complaints (respondents no 5 and 6) brought the fact in their reply before HC that during the course of the entire proceedings before the commission neither the petitioners (University) nor respondent No.3 (one of the commission members) disclosed that his daughter had pursued MBBS degree from the petitioners’ institute or that respondent No.3’s son – in – law was employed as a faculty member in the petitioners’ institute. In the reply, both medicos blamed the petitioner university for playing foul with complaints as well as the commission.  

During the course of the hearing before the High Court member of commission Dr Shashi Kant Sharma accepted the fact and stated that his daughter Dr. Sakshi Sharma was the ex. student of Maharishi Marakandeshwar University, Kumarhatti, Distt. Solan (H.P.) from the batch 2014 to 2019 of the MBBS Course and his son-in-law had also worked with the said University as Assistant Professors for the last year. He said that due to the above-mentioned reasons he did not signed on the order.

In 13 paged order passed by the High Court on May 24. 2023 took note that the petitioner University had raised or flagged the objection to the continuation of a respondent (no-3) as a Member of the commission Bench only at the stage of pronouncement of the orders by the commission.

In Para 4 (iv) High Court verdict has observed that it is well settled that justice should not only be done but should also be seen to have been done. In the face of (above) admitted factual scenario rejection of the application moved by the petitioner seeking suspension of proceeding in the complaints preferred by respondents No 5 and 6 completely on the observation that ” same is found to be without any provisions of the law on merits ” cannot be said to be in order. 

Along with the reply filed by respondents state, chairman and respondent no 3( member) dated June 9, 2022, has been appended. In this note, respondent No-3 had practically admitted his interest in the matter and stated that he would not be in a position to participate in the pronouncement on the order on June 9, 2022.

Interestingly HC has also slapped a cost of Rs 25000 which was paid by the university to the complaint (Dr. Nividita and Dr Yamini) before or by June 19, 2023. 

HC has given partial relief to the university considering its submission on the composition of commission or quorum as it had also directed the respondent commission to hear the complaints of respondents No.5 and 6 afresh in accordance with the law. 

The HC has also set aside the June 9, 2022 order(annexures P-4 and 5) and said that the commission should consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of two members from amongst persons of the eminence of public life or in the field of higher education or who have remained Secretary or above to the Government of Himachal Pradesh or held equivalent post in the Government of India for a period of three years or more.

The high court also mentioned in its verdict on the petition that the crux of the grievances of both the complainants (respondents No.5 and 6) was that since the MBBS Course duration as per the prospectus was 4.5 years, therefore, they could not have been charged tuition fee, University charges, and hostel fee, etc. beyond the period of 4.5 years. However, petitioners contested the above complaints. 

Earlier to this on the same complaint commission had been ordered to refund the excess fee tune to Rs 103.97 Crore and also imposed a penalty of Rs.45 lakhs on the university and medical college for charging excess fees from the complainants. 

Instead of refunding the excess fee and depositing the penalty MMU and MMC had preferred to file a civil writ petition before the high court for suspending the proceedings in the complaints.

Now affected complaints likely to have justice soon an order soon was also expected from the complete quorum of the new bench of commission as the complaint is being heard afresh.

Following the high court order the matter was listed before the new commission bench of Major General Atul Kaushik and new member Lalit Kumar and the university deposited the cost of Rs 25000 recently slapped on it by the HC) on June 19, 2023.

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