The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday dismissed the appeals of nearly 450 Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) students who had found seats in Punjab's private colleges in 2014 on Class-12 qualification basis.
The division bench of justice Hemant Gupta and justice Lisa Gill gave the dental colleges concerned three months to refund the fee and pay `50,000 as compensation to students, "for wasting their academic life". The students are free to take any legal remedy, civil or criminal, against these institutes.
The high court held that in September 2014 the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, had cautioned these institutes that any admission that was not through entrance test would not be regularized; and the state government had issued a public notice warning the students of going for seats on the basis of marks secured in the qualifying examination. "Still, if the students have sought admission and private institutions have admitted them, it is at their own peril," the court observed. It also noted that though the colleges had asked the university to send a representative for counselling for the vacant seats, the university had told them not to go ahead.
The court held that the students couldn't be permitted to continue their course, as their admissions were in violation of the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Act, 2006. Since the state government has chosen entrance test to be the mode of fair and transparent admission, no one, including the university and the private institutions, can violate the rule, the court has ruled.
The bench also didn't accept that the students were admitted under exceptional circumstances, stating that mere availability of seats is not an exceptional circumstance. "The private institutes have been set up keeping in view their perception that students would be available for admission," the court stated, adding that it was a commercial decision of the private institutes to start dental education. Of the 858 seats in these colleges, 455 were vacant.
The court has also ruled that the Dental Council of India (DCI) had implicit powers to supervise the qualifications or eligibility standards for admission to any medical institution. The students had argued that the DCI rules didn't apply to admission in private colleges. They had filed their appeal in June after failing to get any relief from a single-judge bench, challenging the BFUHS decision of not giving them registration numbers.