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Mohini Jain v/s State Of Karnataka

The Karnataka Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act was passed by the Karnataka Legislature in 1984 in order to do away with the practise of charging students capitation fees when they apply for admission.

The Karnataka Legislature released a notification (known as the "challenged notification") on June 5, 1989, in accordance with Section 5(1) of this Act, to control tuition costs at private medical schools. In this notification, tuition costs and other fees were disclosed.

The challenged notification stated that students enrolled through "Government seats" would pay Rs. 2,000, while Karnataka residents (apart from those with government seat admissions) would pay a maximum annual fee of Rs. 25,000. There is a maximum annual fee of Rs. 60,000 for students from outside of Karnataka.

Ms. Mohini Jain, a Meerut resident, received an offer via mail to join the MBBS program at Sri Siddharatha Medical College in Agalokote, Tumkur, Karnataka, with a session starting in early 1991, requiring a fee of Rs. 60,000. However, Ms. Jain's father contacted the college, stating his inability to pay. She alleged an additional capitation fee of about Rs. 4.5 lakhs, which the respondents denied. Ms. Jain filed a case under Article 32[1] of the Indian Constitution, contending that the notification violated Articles 12[2], 14[3], 211, and 41[4], infringing on the right to education through unjust fees.

In brief, the case involved the Karnataka Legislature's Act to stop capitation fees and a subsequent notification regulating tuition in private medical colleges, contested by Ms. Mohini Jain, due to unjust educational Costs.

  1. Does the Indian Constitution provide a 'right to education,' and if it does, does the practice of 'capitation fee' go against this right?
  2. Is the collection of capitation fees for admissions to educational institutions considered unfair and arbitrary, thus violating Article 14[5] of the Constitution, which ensures equality?
  3. Does the challenged notification allow Private Medical Colleges to collect capitation fees under the guise of regulating fees as per the Act?
  4. Does the notification go against the Act's provisions, which explicitly prohibit educational institutions in Karnataka from charging capitation fees?

Rule Of Law:
In the case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka (1992), the Rule of law established that the right to education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that this right is derived from the fundamental right to life and human dignity as outlined in Article 21[6] of the Constitution. It emphasized that education is a crucial element for achieving social justice and equal opportunities for all individuals.

The Court further stated that education is essential for enabling people to fully participate in society and exercise their fundamental rights. Therefore, the judgment in the Mohini Jain case underscores that the government and private educational institutions must uphold and protect the fundamental right to education. The government is responsible for ensuring that all citizens can access affordable and high-quality education, and private educational institutions are prohibited from discriminating against students based on their income or social status.

Petitioner's Argument:
According to the petitioner, charging capitation fees infringes against the fundamental right to education that is protected by Article 21[7] of the Indian Constitution. A person's whole growth depends on education, which is both a fundamental right and a necessity. Capitation fee policies, which limit access to education based on one's ability to pay, are thus in violation of this right.

Furthermore, the petitioner claims that the capitation fee regime is unfair and illogical. The amount of capitation fees collected has no logical relationship to how well private colleges educate their students. Therefore, in violation of Article 14[8] of the Indian Constitution's guarantee of equality, this policy is arbitrary and unjust.

Additionally, the petitioner draws attention to the policy's discriminatory aspect, which targets pupils who are economically disadvantaged.having trouble paying the exorbitant costs. In accordance with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, discrimination is prohibited.

The petitioner further contends that the capitation fee policy is in conflict with the Directive Principles of State Policy included in Articles 38[9] and 39[10] of the Indian Constitution, which place emphasis on the state's obligation to advance individuals' well-being and guarantee equitable access to opportunities. Lastly, the petitioner claims that by treating education as a commodity rather than a public asset, the capitation fee regime is in opposition to public policy. It is against public policy principles for this deviation to occur from the larger public interest.

In summary, the petitioner's argument revolves around the unconstitutionality, arbitrariness, discrimination, and conflict with public policy inherent in the capitation fee policy

Argument by the Respondents:
According to the third responder, a private medical institution, applicants who are accepted via the "Government seat quota" are deemed meritorious, whereas applicants who are accepted under the "Management quota" (which excludes "Government seat") are not. According to them, the institution has the right to charge non-meritorious students greater tuition in order to cover the costs of delivering medical education. They think that this classification is accurate.

According to the intervenor, the Karnataka Private Medical Colleges Association, neither the State of Karnataka nor the Federal Government provide financial support to private medical colleges in the state. They point out that the cost of an MBBS programme in private medical institutes, which lasts five years, is approximately five lakhs per student. Because the "Government Quota," which requires students to pay, fills 40% of the available seaatsOnly Rs. 2,000 per year, the burden must be borne by students admitted under the "Management quota." Therefore, they contend that the tuition rate is not expensive and that this structure is not profitable for private medical colleges in Karnataka.

The third respondent and the intervenor both emphasise that neither the Indian Constitution nor any other laws contain any clauses that forbid the collection of capitation fees.

The capitation fees levied by private educational institutions were deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court of India, which also upheld the fundamental right to education. The Indian Constitution's Article 21, which protects the rights to life and personal freedom, upholds the right to education as a fundamental right that is protected.

Additionally, the court found that the capitation fees charged by private educational institutions were a breach of the right to equality as stated in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The court observed that these fees were primarily money-making demands made by for-profit educational institutions and had little to do with the calibre of instruction offered by those institutions. The court made a point of highlighting how these capitation payments led to discrimination against Economically underprivileged groups in society were denied equal educational opportunities due to their inability to pay the high tuition.

The government was also ordered by the court to take action to control the fees charged by for-profit educational institutions in order to ensure that capitation fees are not allowed. According to the ruling of the court, it is the duty of the government to ensure that education remains a right that is open to all people and is not restricted to the wealthy and powerful.

The June 5, 1989 announcement that allowed for admission to private medical colleges in Karnataka does not apply to those who were already admitted. The same requirements apply when they continue their studies. Since she wasn't admitted based on her qualifications and the course had already started, the petitioner wasn't given any remedy.

Precedents Followed
The judge cited several key precedents to underpin the legal principles invoked in their judgment regarding the interpretation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi[11], it was affirmed that Article 21 not only safeguards physical well-being but also encompasses the right to live with human dignity. This includes access to basic necessities such as nutrition, clothing, shelter, education, and the freedom to express oneself.

Furthermore, the judge referred to the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India[12], where it was emphasized that the right to live with human dignity, as enshrined in Article 21, draws its essence from the Directive Principles of State Policy, particularly those pertaining to the protection of workers, children, health, and humane working conditions. It was established that these minimum requirements are essential for individuals to lead a life with dignity, and no government, whether central or state, has the authority to deprive people of these fundamental essentials.

Additionally, the judge highlighted the evolving interpretation of Article 14, emphasizing that equality under the law is fundamentally opposed to arbitrariness. This principle was derived from cases such as E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu[13], Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[14], Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. The International Airport Authority of India[15], and Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi[16]. These cases collectively established that Article 14 not only pertains to classification but also serves as a safeguard against arbitrary actions by authorities.

Current Status / Significance
Prior to the Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka (1992) judgment, there existed a lack of consensus regarding whether the right to education was indeed a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Different courts had held varying views on this matter, with some recognizing it as a fundamental right and others not.

Furthermore, there was no legislation in place that explicitly prohibited private educational institutions from imposing capitation fees. Consequently, many such institutions were imposing exceedingly high capitation fees, rendering education financially inaccessible for economically disadvantaged individuals.

The Mohini Jain judgment brought about a significant transformation in this landscape. The Supreme Court, through this landmark case, unequivocally established that the right to education is indeed a fundamental right enshrined within the Indian Constitution. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the practice of private educational institutions charging capitation fees was in violation of the right to education.

This pivotal judgment has had far-reaching consequences within the Indian education sector. It has democratized education access, particularly for those with limited financial means, and played a role in curbing the imposition of capitation fees by private educational institutions. Importantly, the principles outlined in the Mohini Jain case continue to be binding on all Indian courts.

Nevertheless, challenges persist in fully implementing the judgment. Some private educational institutions have found ways to charge similar fees under different names, and there remains a shortage of educational institutions in the country, hindering widespread access to education.

Despite these hurdles, the Mohini Jain judgment stands as a watershed moment in the Indian education landscape, solidifying the fundamental right to education and making it more attainable for marginalized communities.

End Notes:
  1. Constit. India art 21.
  2. Constit. India art 12.
  3. Constit. India art 14.
  4. Constit. India art 41.
  5. ibid. art 14.
  6. Constit. India art 21.
  7. ibid. art 21.
  8. Ibid. art 14.
  9. Constit. India art 38.
  10. Constit. India art 39.
  11. Francis Coralie Mullin v The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi [1981] 2 SCR 516.
  12. Bandhua Mukti Morcha v Union of India [1984] 2 SCR 67.
  13. E.P. Royappa v State of Tamil Nadu [1974] 2 SCR 348.
  14. Maneka Gandhi v Union of India [1978] 2 SCR 621.
  15. Ramana Dayaram Shetty v The International Airport Authority of India [1979] 3 SCR 1014.
  16. Ajay Hasia v Khalid Mujib Sehravardi [1981] 2 SCR 79.

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