The court announces that commercialisation of education will not be tolerated and the government has a vital role to see that private institutions, especially professional ones, are meant to spread education and not to make money.
A Constitution Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave held that the right to establish and administer of private unaided professional institutions is not absolute, but subject to the control of the State meant to check profiteering and commercialisation of education.
“With liberalisation, the government has encouraged establishments of privately managed institutions. It is done with the hope that the private sector will play vital role in the field of education with philanthropic approach/ideals in mind as this activity is not to be taken for the purpose of profiteering, but more as a societal welfare,” observed, Justice A.K. Sikri, who authored the judgment for the Bench.
The court said how there are regulatory bodies in all vital industries like insurance, electricity and power, telecommunications. “Thus, it is felt that in any welfare economy, even for private industries, there is a need for regulatory body and such a regulatory framework for education sector becomes all the more necessary,” Justice Sikri mentioned.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by private self-financing medical and dental colleges against a Madhya Pradesh law — Niji Vyavasayik Shikshan Sanstha (Pravesh Ka Viniyaman Avam Shulk Ka Nirdharan) Adhiniyam, 2007 — which regulated admission and fixation of fee for post graduate courses in private professional educational institutions in the State.
This law also provided reservation of seats to persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in professional educational institutions.
The colleges had argued that the law broke their fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to lay down the eligibility criteria for admission and admit the students as well as fix their own fee. They quoted the 11-judge decision of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation case to argue that right to administer educational institution is recognised as an 'occupation' under the Constitution.
They complained of how the law inmposed “excessive” reservations on them, leaving hardly any seats for unreserved categories.