The right to establish an educational institution may be regulated to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court observed that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration. The bench consisting of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai observed thus while upholding Dental Council of India Regulation 6(2)(h)…

The Supreme Court observed that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration.

The bench consisting of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai thus observed while upholding Dental Council of India Regulation 6(2)(h) (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New Course of Study or of Higher Education and Increase in Dental College Admission Capacity) Regulations 2006.

The Court set aside the High Court judgment which had invalidated the amended 6(2)(h) regulation.

Amended Regulation 6(2)(h)

Under unamended section 6(2)(h), an applicant was eligible to apply if he owned and operated a general hospital with at least 100 beds. By amendment of this regulation, it has been made compulsory for the applicant to attach his proposed Dental College to the Government/Private Medical College, approved/recognized by the Medical Council of India, which is located at a distance of 10 kilometers by road of the proposed Dental College. The distance of 10 kilometers is now increased to 30 kilometers, see amendment of July 5, 2017.

High Court Judgment

The grounds on which the High Court struck down Amended Regulation 6(2)(h) are as follows: (i) it violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India; (ii) that it is not within the powers of the Council to legislate under subsection (7) of section 10A of the Dentists Act 1948; and (iii) that it is contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution of India, inasmuch as dental faculties established before the disputed notification would be allowed to operate without attachment to medical faculties, whereas dental faculties created after the contested notification will be required to have such an attachment with medical schools.

View of the Supreme Court

In disagreement with the High Court’s view, the Supreme Court bench observed that

(1) It cannot be said that the amended regulation is one, which is manifestly arbitrary, to the point of allowing the Court to intervene therein. On the contrary, we find that the amended regulation 6(2)(h) has a direct link with the objective to be achieved, that is to say, to provide adequate teaching and training facilities for students.

(2) It was not permissible for the Bench Division of the High Court to enter into a field of experts and conclude that the unamended provisions should have been preferred to the amended provisions.

With respect to the assertion that said settlement violates the fundamental right set out in Article 19(1)(g), the bench, referring to TMA Pai Foundation and other vs. State of Karnataka and other (2002) 8 SCC 481, observed:

It is therefore clear that the Constitutional Court itself has ruled that the right to establish an educational institution can be regulated. However, such regulatory measures should, in general, aim to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and to prevent maladministration. 42. The contested notification is no doubt made in order to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards and infrastructure and as such the judgment of the Constitutional Court of this Court in the case of TMA Pai Foundation et al ( supra), rather than supporting Respondent No. 1’s case, would support the Board’s case.

Case details

Dental Council of India vs. Biyani Shikshan Samiti | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 366 | CA 2912 FROM 2022 | April 12, 2022

Coram: Judges L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai

Counsel: Adv Gaurav Sharma for the appellant, ASG Aishwarya Bhati and Adv Shobha Gupta for the respondents

Summaries

Constitution of India, 1950; Section 19(1)(g) – The right to establish an educational institution may be regulated. However, such regulatory measures should, in general, aim to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and to prevent maladministration. (Para 40-41)

Regulations of the Dental Council of India (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New or Higher Course of Education or Training and Increase in Admission Capacity in Dental Colleges), 2006; Regulation 6(2)(h) – Amended Regulation 6(2)(h) is directly related to the objective to be achieved, i.e. providing adequate teaching and training facilities for students – It is designed to ensure the maintenance of appropriate academic standards and infrastructure. (Paragraph 33.41)

Dentists Act, 1948 – Section 10A- It is within the jurisdiction of the Council to make regulations prescribing any other condition not otherwise found in paragraphs (a) to (f) of subsection (7) of section 10A of the Act. (Paragraphs 29-30)

Constitution of India, 1950; Section 14 – The differential treatment of different classes would not be affected by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The only requirement would be whether such classification is related to the purpose of the law. (Paragraph 31)

Subordinate legislation – Grounds for Challenge – Subordinate legislation may be challenged on any of the grounds on which full legislation is challenged. In addition, it can also be challenged on the grounds that it is not in accordance with the law under which it is enacted. It can also be challenged on the grounds that it is contrary to another law. Although it may also be challenged on the basis of unreasonableness, such unreasonableness should not be in the sense of not being reasonable, but should be in the sense that it is manifestly arbitrary (paragraphs 22 to 26) – The presumption is always with regard to the validity of a provision. The onus is on the party who challenges the validity of such a provision (paragraph 30) – The Court is not permitted to rule on the wisdom and effectiveness or otherwise of the policy established by the regulator and to declare a regulation to be ultra vires simply on the ground that, in the opinion of the Court, the impugned provisions will not further the object and purpose of the Act. (Paragraphs 36-39)

Summary – Appeal against the judgment of Rajasthan HC which set aside the notification amending Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India (establishment of new dental colleges, opening of new or higher and increase in dental college admission capacity) ) Regulations 2006 – Authorized.

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Janice G. Ball