The Madras High Court (HC) has refused to direct a private medical college to reduce the annual fee of ₹22.50 lakh, collected from MBBS students just because the institution had conducted only online classes since April this year due to the lockdown to fight COVID-19.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said: “Even though the situation is extraordinary, that does not mean that this court can exceed its limits and give directions which are not sustainable in the eye of law. Therefore, this court does not find any scope for reduction of tuition fees.”
The judge agreed with SRM Institute of Science and Technology and SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre at Kattankulathur in Kancheepuram district that the fee could not be reduced since the institutions had to incur expenditure under several heads.
It was brought to the notice of the court that medical colleges had to spend a considerable amount of money on maintaining the infrastructure and paying salaries to the staff even when physical classes were not conducted due to the lockdown.
Further, now that colleges had been permitted to start physical classes from this month and the National Medical Commission had also decided to extend the course period by three months, the petitioner colleges were not going to charge more, the court was told.
The colleges, however, accepted a suggestion made by the judge to collect the fee in instalments, and hence, the judge directed that the first instalment of 40% should be paid on or before December 15. The rest should be paid in two more instalments before January 4 and February 8 respectively.
“The time granted by this court for the payment of fees in instalments will not be extended under any circumstance … In the event of non-payment of fees as per the directions issued by this court, it is left open to the institution to proceed further in accordance with law,” he ordered.