Miss Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka : Case Analysis - The Red Carpet

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Miss Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka : Case Analysis

 

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Facts

Mohini Jain was a girl originally from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh and wanted to pursue MBBS from a private college in Karnataka named Sri Sriddharatha Medical College, Agalokote, Tumkur. According to the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act[1], it was established by the state government that Private Medical Colleges will charge only ₹2000 per annum from students admitted on Government seats, ₹25,000 from students from the state of Karnataka and ₹60,000 from students of the rest of the states in India . Apart from this, no fee should be demanded from the student. This step was taken to ensure that the Private Medical Colleges don’t charge money from students in exchange of admission.

The management of the college informed her that she would have to submit a sum of ₹60,000 for every year but her father conveyed to the authorities that ₹60,000 is a huge amount of money and he could not afford that. On this basis, she was denied the admission in the college. Miss Jain later alleged that apart from the ₹60,000 the college also asked for ₹4,50,000 as capitation fee though this was denied by the college.

Issues

·         Does the Constitution of India guarantee “Right to Education”?

·         Whether the charging of capitation fees an infringement of Right to Education?

·         Whether the notification by the State of Karnataka somewhat allow them to charge capitation fee?

CONTENTION OF THE APPELLANT

The appellant contests that the notification of the State Government of Karnataka regarding the fees of Private Medical Colleges allows them to ask for capitation money which becomes a burden on students and their families and hence, violates their Right to Education.

CONTENTION OF THE RESPONDENT

The counsel for the Medical College stated that even in private medical colleges, 40% seats are reserved by the Government for the students with higher scores. These students, though meritorious, pay only ₹2000 per annum. The medical college association claim that their expenditure on one student for 5 years is 5 lakh and since they do not receive any fund from the State, the burden falls on the students admitted against the management quota. They, therefore, contend that merit is a valid point of separation between the two types of student and hence, they are within their rights to ask for extra amount.

OBSERVATIONS

The very first thing about which the Judges pondered upon was Right to Education. When our motherland got freedom from the British and a Constitution was in the making, more than 70% of the population was illiterate. Naturally the makers of the Constitution wanted education to be accessible to all. Keeping this in mind and going through various other Articles of the Constitution talking about social, political and economic justice, equal opportunities and facilities, the Judges came to a conclusion that though Right to Education may not be in the Constitution particularly but it is implied in Part III of the Constitution. Therefore, the state must provide Education. The State is under an obligation to open educational institutions or give authorisation to private entities. Capitation fee is totally against the spirit of Right to Education due to the immense burden it puts on the students and their families.

The Court referred to the case of P. Joshi v. Madhya Bharat[2] where when a Private Medical College was taken over by the Government, it started asking for capitation fee from the students who did not belong to Madhya Pradesh. In this case, the majority stated that this rule does not violate Right to Education as it is the responsibility of the State Government to work in the best interest of its Geographical boundaries but the dissent judgement stated that one’s Place of Birth should not determine whether he is eligible for Education or not.

This Court also referred to cases of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India Ors[3] (in which the State of Uttar Pradesh was asked to ensure that no children under the age of 14 years are working in dangerous industries like bangle making or firecracker industry) and Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi[4](in which the petitioner was a British national and she was imprisoned for smuggling hashish out of the country. She was not able to meet with her lawyers as frequently as she wanted because of the exhaustive procedure) which were about Article 14 and Article 21. Both these cases stated that Right to life does not only mean to live but to live with dignity.

JUDGEMENT

The Court held that the fee of ₹60,000 that was asked by the medical college was indeed a capitation fee which basically would mean to buy a seat in an Educational Institution. This fee structure was in violation of the notification by the State of Karnataka and therefore, it was struck down.

Since the petitioner was not admitted to the college on the basis of merit, the Court did not deem it fit to grant her admission especially when the session commenced 3 months ago.

ANALYSIS

The case of Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka is considered to be a landmark judgement for Right to Education in India. It deals with capitation fee in private colleges and how it infringes the Right to Education to the students who cannot afford that. Mohini, a girl from Meerut, wanted to study in Karnataka’s Medical College and therefore, she was expected to pay ₹60,000 as admission fee when the students occupying the government seat only paid ₹2,000. As per the notification of the State government, capitation fee was not allowed because it meant as if the student was buying the seat and if one has money, he/she would receive an education otherwise they would not be able to be educated.

Before reaching to the decision the judges pondered about things like Right to Life and how Right to Life also includes a life of dignity for which education is a must. But the part that I didn’t quite agree with was even though the judges quashed the college’s demand of asking for so much money in the name of management quota, she did not get admitted to the college.

I agree with the judges that she was not as meritorious as the other students but we can all agree that she definitely was determined for it. She wanted to study MBBS so much that she had the courage to approach the court for her Right to Education. One of the reasons why she was not admitted to the college was because the college started 3 months before the judgement date which I believe to be unfair. It was not Mohini’s fault that our judicial system lacks speedy justice.

The Preamble promises to secure justice "social, economic and political" for the citizens. A peculiar feature of the Indian Constitution is that it combines social and economic rights along with political and justiciable legal rights. The Preamble embodies the goal which the State has to achieve in order to establish social justice and to make the masses fee in the positive sense. The securing of social justice has been specifically enjoyed an object of the State under Article 38 of the Constitution. Can the objective which has been so prominently pronounced in the Preamble and Article 38 of the Constitution be achieved without providing education to the large majority of citizens who are illiterate. The objective flowing from the Preamble cannot be achieved and shall remain on paper unless the people in this country are educated.

The three-pronged justice promised by the Preamble is only an illusion to the teaming millions who are illiterate. It is only education which equips a citizen to participate in achieving the objectives enshrined in the Preamble. The Preamble further assures the dignity of the individual. The Constitution seeks to achieve this object by guaranteeing fundamental rights to each individual which he can enforce through court of law if necessary. The Directive Principles in Part IV of the Constitution are also with the same objective. The dignity of man is inviolable. It is the duty of the State to respect and protect the same. It is primarily education which brings forth the dignity of a man. The framers of the Constitution were aware that more than seventy per cent of the people, to whom they were giving the Constitution of India, were illiterate.

They were also hopeful that within a period of ten years illiteracy would be wiped out from the country. It was with that hope that Articles 41 and 45 were brought in Chapter IV of the Constitution. An individual cannot be assured to human dignity unless his personality is developed and the only way to do that is to educate him. This is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 emphasises : "Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality ...". Article 41 in Chapter IV of the Constitution recognises an individual's right "to education". It says that "the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right ... to education ...". Although a citizen cannot enforce the Directive Principles contained in Chapter IV of the Constitution but these were not intended to be mere pious declarations. We may quote the words of Dr. Ambedkar in that respect that "In enacting this Part of the Constitution, the Assembly is giving certain directions to the future legislature and the future executive to show in what manner they are to exercise the legislative and the executive power they will have. Surely it is not the intention and to introduce in this Part these principles as mere pious declarations. It is the intention of the Assembly that in future both the legislature and the executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles but that they should be made the basis of all legislative and executive action that they may be taking hereafter in the matter of the governance of the country.

The directive principles which are fundamental in the governance of the country cannot be isolated from the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III. These principles have to be read into the fundamental rights. Both are supplementary to each other. The State is under constitutional mandate to create conditions in which the fundamental rights guaranteed to the individuals under Part III could be enjoyed by all. Without making "right to education" under Article 41 of the Constitution a reality the fundamental rights under Chapter III shall remain beyond the reach of large majority which is illiterate.

In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India ( 1984 (3) SCC 161) this Court held as under : (SCC p. 183, para 10) "This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at the last, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. These are the minimum requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity and no State - neither the Central Government nor any State Government - has the right to take any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials."

"Right to life" is the compendious expression for all those rights which the courts must enforce because they are basic to the dignified enjoyment of life. It extends to the full range of conduct which the individuals is free to pursue. The right to education flows directly from right to life. The right to life under Article 21 and the dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is accompanied by the right to education. The State Government is under an obligation to make endeavour to provide educational facilities at all levels to its citizens.

The fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India including the right to freedom of speech and expression and other rights under Article 19 cannot be appreciated and fully enjoyed unless a citizen is educated and is conscious of his individualistic dignity

The "right to education", therefore, is concomitant to the fundamental rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution. The State is under a constitutional mandate to provide educational institutions at all levels for the benefit of the citizens. The educational institutions must function to the best advantage of the citizens. Opportunity to acquire education cannot be confined to the richer section of the society. Increasing demand for medical education has led to the opening of large number of medical colleges by private persons, groups and trusts with the permission and recognition of State Governments. The Karnataka State has permitted the opening the several new medical colleges under various private bodies and organisations. These institutions are charging capitation fee as a consideration for admission. Capitation fee is nothing but a price for selling education. The concept of 'teaching shops' is contrary to the constitutional scheme and is wholly abhorrent to the Indian culture and heritage. As far back as December 1980 the Indian Medical Association in its 56th All India Medical Conference held at Cuttack on December 28-30, 1980 passed the following resolutions.

"The 56th All India Medical Conference views with great concern the attitude of State Governments particularly the State Government of Karnataka in permitting the opening of new medical colleges under various bodies and organisations in utter disregard to the recommendations of Medical Council of India and urges upon the authorities and the Government of Karnataka not to permit the opening of any new medical colleges, by private bodies.

It further condemns the policy of admission on the basis of capitation fees. This commercialisation of medical education endangers the lowering of standards of medical education and encourages bad practice."

Dr. K. S. Chugh, Chairman, Department of Medicine and Head of the Department of Nephrology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, recipient of Dr. B. C. Roy National Award as "eminent medical man for 1991", in his presidential address delivered on January 17, 1992 at the 47th Annual Conference of the Association of Physicians in India held at Patna observed as under

"In the recent past, there has been a mushroom growth of medical colleges in our country. At the time of independence we had 25 medical colleges which turned out less than 2000 graduates every year. At the present time, there are 172 (150 already functioning and 22 are being established) medical colleges with an annual turnover of over 20, 000 graduates. The Mudaliar Commission had recommended a doctor-population ratio of 1 : 3500. We have already achieved a ration of 1 : 2500. If we take into account the practitioners of other systems of medicine who enjoy pay-scales and privileges comparable to those of allopathic doctors, India will soon have a doctor-population ration or 1 : 500. Such overproduction of technical manpower from our medical colleges is bound to lead to unemployment and frustration. Indeed the unabated exodus of our professional colleagues to other countries is a direct consequence of these lop-sided policies.

According to some estimates India has exported human capital worth over 51 billion dollars to USA alone during 1966-88. Currently about 8000 skilled young men and women are leaving the country every year. It is high time a blanket ban is imposed on any further expansion of medical colleges in our country and a well thought out plan to reduce the intake into existing institutions is prepared. This will help to improve the standard of medical education and health care in our countryIt is common knowledge that many of the newly started medical colleges charge huge capitation fees. Besides, most of these are poorly equipped and provide scanty facilities for training of students. At best such institutions can be termed as 'Teaching Shops'. Experience has shown that these colleges admit students who have been unable to gain admission in recognised medical colleges. The result is a back-door entry into medical training obtained solely by the ability to pay one's way through. Even the advice of the Medical Council of India is sidelined in many such case. The Government must resist all pressures to allow this practice to continue. Admission to medical colleges bought by paying capitation fees must be stopped forthwith and all such existing institutions required to strictly by adhere to the Medical Council of India rules

In the words of my predecessor Dr. V. Parmeshvara, 'The need of the hour is better doctors than more doctors, better health education than more education, better health care than more health care delivery'."

The Indian Medical Association, the Association of Physicians of India and various other bodies and organisations representing the medical profession in this country have unanimously condemned the practice of charging capitation fee as a consideration for admission to the medical college

We hold that every citizen has a "right to education" under the Constitution. The State is under an obligation to establish educational institutions to enable the citizens to enjoy the said right. The State may discharge its obligation through state-owned or state-recognised educational institutions. When the State Government grants recognition to the private educational institutions it creates an agency to fulfil its obligation under the Constitution. The students are given admission to the educational institutions - whether state-owned or state-recognised - in recognition of their "right to education" under the Constitution. Charging capitation fee in consideration of admission to educational institutions, is a patent denial of a citizen's right to education under the Constitution

Indian civilisation recognises education as one of the pious obligations of the human society. To establish and administer educational institutions is considered a religious and charitable object. Education in India has never been a commodity for sale. Looking at the economic front, even forty-five years after achieving independence, thirty per cent of the population is living below poverty line and the bulk of the remaining population is struggling for existence under poverty conditions. The Preamble promises and the Directive Principles are a mandate to the State to eradicate poverty so that the poor of this country can enjoy the right to life guaranteed under the Constitution. The State action or inaction which defeats the constitutional mandate is per se arbitrary and cannot be sustained. Capitation fee makes the availability of education beyond the reach of the poor. The State action in permitting capitation fee to be charged by state-recognised educational institutions is wholly arbitrary and as such violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. During the last two decades the horizon of the equality clause has been widened as a result of this Court's judgments. Earlier the violation of Article 14 was judged on the twin tests of classification and nexus.

This Court in E. P. Royappa v. State of T. N. ( 1974 (4) SCC 3) gave new dimension to Article 14 in the following words : (SCC p. 38, para 85) "Equality is a dynamic concept with many aspects and dimensions and it cannot be 'cribbed, cabined and confined' within traditional and doctrinaire limits. From a positivistic point of view, equality is antithetic to arbitrariness. In fact equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies; one belongs to the rule of law in a republic while the other, to the whim and caprice of an absolute monarch. Where an act is arbitrary it is implicit in it that it is unequal both according to political logic and constitutional law and is therefore violative of Article 14."

This Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India ( 1978 (1) SCC 248), Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. International Airport Authority of India ( 1979 (3) SCC 489) and Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi ( 1981 (1) SCC 722) following E. P. Royappa ( 1974 (4) SCC 3) authoritatively held that equality is directly opposed to arbitrariness. In Ajay Hasia ( 1981 (1) SCC 722) this Court observed as under : (SCC p. 740, para 16) "Unfortunately, in the early stages of the evolution of our constitutional law. Article 14 came to be identified with the doctrine of classification .... In E. P. Royappa v. State of T. N. (1974 (4) SCC 3) this Court laid bare a new dimension of Article 14 and pointed out that that Article has highly activist magnitude and it embodies a guarantee against arbitrariness."

The capitation fee brings to the fore a clear class bias. It enables the rich to take admission whereas the poor have to withdraw due to financial inability. A poor student with better merit cannot get admission because he has no money whereas the rich can purchase the admission. Such a treatment is patently unreasonable, unfair and unjust. There is, therefore, no escape from the conclusion that charging of capitation fee in consideration of admissions to educational institutions is wholly arbitrary and as such infracts Article 14 of the Constitution

We do not agree with Mr. Hegde that the management has a right to admit non-meritorious candidates by charging capitation fee as a consideration. This practice strikes at the very root of the constitutional scheme and our educational system. Restricting admission to non-meritorious candidates belonging to the richer section of society and denying the same to poor meritorious is wholly arbitrary, against the constitutional scheme and as such cannot be legally permitted. Capitation fee in any from cannot be sustained in the eyes of law. The only method of admission to the medical colleges in consonance with fair play and equity is by ways of merit and merit alone

We, therefore, hold and declare that charging of capitation fee by the private educational institutions as a consideration for admission is wholly illegal and cannot be permitted

Mr. Santosh Hegde and Mr. Vaidyanathan learned counsel for respondent 3 and the intervener have relied upon D. P. Joshi v. State of M. B. ( 1955 (1) SCR 1215) for the proposition that classification of candidates for admission to medical colleges on the basis of residence is permissible. In D. P. Joshi case ( 1955 (1) SCR 1215) a resident of Delhi was admitted as a student of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Indore which was run by the State of Madhya Bharat. His complaint was that the rules in force in the said institution discriminated in the matter of fees between students who were residents of Madhya Bharat and those who were not, and that the latter had to pay in addition to the tuition fee and charges payable by all the students a sum of Rs. 1500 per annum as capitation fee and that the charging of such a fee from the students coming out of Madhya Bharat was in contravention of Article 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution of India. In D. P. Joshi case ( 1955 (1) SCR 1215) the only point for decision before this Court was whether the classification on the ground of residence was justified. This Court while dealing with the question observed as under:

"The impugned rule divides, as already stated, self-nominees into two groups, those who are bona fide residents of Madhya Bharat and those who are not, and while it imposes a capitation fee on the latter, it exempts the former from the payment thereof. It thus proceeds on a classification based on residence within the State, and the only point for decision is whether the ground of classification has a fair and substantial relation to the purpose of the law, or whether it is purely arbitrary and fanciful. 

The object of the classification underlying the impugned rule was clearly to help to some extent students who are residents of Madhya Bharat in the prosecution of their studies, and it cannot be disputed that it is quite a legitimate and laudable objective for a State to encourage education within its borders. Education is a State subject, and one of the directive principles declared in Part IV of the Constitution is that the State should make effective provision for education within the limits of its economy. (Vide Article 41). The State has to contribute for the upkeep and the running of its educational institution. We are in this petition concerned with a medical college, and it is well-known that it requires considerable finance to maintain such an institution. If the State has to spend money on it, is it unreasonable that it should so order the educational system that the advantage of it would to some extent at least enure for the benefit of the State ?

A concession given to the residents of the State in the matter of fees is obviously calculated to serve that end, as presumably some of them might, after passing out of the College, settle down as doctors and serve the needs of the locality. The classification is thus based on a ground which has a reasonable relation to the subject matter of the legislation, and is in consequence not open to attack. It has been held in State of Punjab v. Ajaib Singh (1953 AIR(SC) 10) that a classification might validly be made on a geographical basis. Such a classification would be eminently just and reasonable, where it relates to education which is the concern primarily of the State. The contention, therefore, that the rule imposing capitation fee is in contravention of Article 14 must be rejected."

D. P. Joshi case ( 1955 (1) SCR 1215) is an authority for the proposition that classification on the ground of residence is a justifiable classification under Articles 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution of India. The question that capitation fee as a consideration for admission is not permissible under the scheme of the Constitution, was neither raised nor adverted to by this Court. The imposition of capitation fee was also not questioned on the ground of arbitrariness. The only question raised before the Court was that the Madhya Bharat students could not be exempted from the payment of the capitation fee. It is settled by this Court that classification on the ground of residence is a valid classification. Subsequently this Court in Dr. Pradeep Jain v. Union of India ( 1984 (3) SCC 654) reiterated the legal position on this point. We are, therefore, of the view that D. P. Joshi ( 1955(b) 'Capitation fee' means any amount, by whether name called, paid or collected directly on indirectly in excess of the fee prescribed under Section 5, but does not include the deposit specified under the proviso to Section 3.

(c) 'Government Seats' means such number of seats in such educational institution or class or classes of such institutions in the State as the Government may, from time to time, specify for being filled, up by in such manner as may be specified by it by general or special order on the basis of merit and reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and such other categories, as may be specified, by the Government from time to time, without the requirement of payment of capitation fee or cash deposit.

The case of Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka is considered to be a landmark judgement for Right to Education in India. It deals with capitation fee in private colleges and how it infringes the Right to Education to the students who cannot afford that. Mohini, a girl from Meerut, wanted to study in Karnataka’s Medical College and therefore, she was expected to pay ₹60,000 as admission fee when the students occupying the government seat only paid ₹2,000. As per the notification of the State government, capitation fee was not allowed because it meant as if the student was buying the seat and if one has money, he/she would receive an education otherwise they would not be able to be educated.

Before reaching to the decision the judges pondered about things like Right to Life and how Right to Life also includes a life of dignity for which education is a must. But the part that I didn’t quite agree with was even though the judges quashed the college’s demand of asking for so much money in the name of management quota, she did not get admitted to the college.

I agree with the judges that she was not as meritorious as the other students but we can all agree that she definitely was determined for it. She wanted to study MBBS so much that she had the courage to approach the court for her Right to Education. One of the reasons why she was not admitted to the college was because the college started 3 months before the judgement date which I believe to be unfair. It was not Mohini’s fault that our judicial system lacks speedy justice.

 


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