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This article is a Case Comment on Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka & Ors. Across the country, the State government issued a notification dated 5 June 1989 setting out the tuition fee, further fees and deposits to be paid to private medical schools in the State under the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Prohibition of the capitalisation fee) Act of 1984.
The tuition fee per year for candidates admitted for “government seats” was Rs.2,000/-whereas the tuition fee for students from Karnataka (other than those admitted for “government seats”) did not exceed Rs.25,000/-and the tuition fee for students from the “Indian students from outside Karnataka” class did not exceed Rs.60,000/-per year.
The complainant Miss Mohini Jain, a Meerut-based girl, was told by the management of Karnataka State Medical College that, at the beginning of the session in February / March 1991, she could be admitted to MBBS. According to the management board, she had to pay the tuition fee Rs.60,000/-and to provide a bank assurance for the fee for the remaining years of the MBBS programme.
The complainant was an Indian student from outside Karnataka” from outside Karnataka. When his father told the college management, he could not pay a huge annual fee of Rs 60,000/-, the petitioner was refused admission. The petitioner was denied admission.
In this petition pursuant to Article 32 of the Constitution of India, Miss Mohini Jain challenged the Karnataka Government’s notification allowing private medical schools in the State of Karnataka to charge exorbitant tuition fees for students other than those admitted to the “Government seat”.
- Whether the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to education?
- If so, whether this privilege was abused by allowing private schools to demand capitation charges?
- If paying capitation charges in educational institutions is in violation of Section 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equal protection of laws?
State Government – The students who were charged a higher tuition fee belonged to a different class; that those who were admitted to the “Government seats” were meritorious and that the remaining non-meritorious classification of candidates into those who possessed merit and those who did not have merit was a valid classification and, as such, the college management had the right to choose.
The purpose of this category was to raise money to cover the costs incurred by the college in providing students with medical education. Management was justified in paying the capitation fee to run the Medical colleges. With the exception of the Act, there was no clause under the Constitution or any other law prohibiting the payment of the fee for capitation.
Karnataka Private Medical Colleges Association– The Private Medical Colleges in Karnataka State did not receive any financial assistance either from the Central Government or from the State Government. Approximately Rs. 5 lakhs per student would be paid by the Private Medical Colleges as expenses for the 5-year MBBS program.
40 per cent of the college seats were split into “State seats” to be filled by the state; that the students are chosen and admitted against administration seats should pay only Rs. 2,000 per annum as the majority of the pressure was on those admitted against the management quota; that the tuition fee was not high and, as such, there was no question of making any tuition fee-free.
The ratio behind the decision
Man’s honour is inviolable. It is the State’s responsibility to respect and protect the same thing. It is mainly education that puts forth a man’s honour. The Constitution framers are aware of the fact that more than 70% of the people that they gave the Indian Constitution were illiterates.
They were also hopeful that illiteracy would be wiped out of the country within ten years. It was with this intention that Chapter IV of the Constitution introduced Articles 41 and 45. Until his identity is created, an adult cannot be assured of human dignity, and the only way to do that is to teach him.
Article 41 of Chapter IV of the Constitution recognizes the “right to education” of an individual. Although the ideals of the guideline found in Chapter IV of the Constitution cannot be followed by a person, they were not meant to be purely religious declarations.
Therefore, the “right to education” falls in accordance with the basic freedoms enshrined in Part III of the Constitution. The State has a constitutional mandate to provide educational institutions for the benefit of citizens at all levels. To the best advantage of the people, the educational institutions must work. It cannot be limited to the wealthy section of society to obtain knowledge.
Under the Constitution, every person has a’ right to education’. The State has a duty to set up educational institutions in order to enable people to enjoy that right. The State may fulfil its obligation through educational institutions owned by the State or recognized by the State.
When the government gives approval to private educational institutions, it requires an entity to meet its duty under the Constitution. Children are admitted to educational institutions-whether state-owned or state-recognized, in recognition of their legal ‘right to education’.
Taking into account admission to educational institutions, charging the capitation fee is a rejection of the right of a citizen to education under the Constitution. Capitation fees are nothing but a selling education cost. The idea of “teaching shops” is contradictory to the constitutional scheme and is completely offensive to the history and heritage of India.
Capitation fees make education affordable beyond the control of the vulnerable. State action in authorizing state-recognized educational institutions to charge capitation fees is entirely unconstitutional and, as such, in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
“Right to life” is the abstract representation of all the rights that the Court will uphold because they are fundamental to the dignified enjoyment of life. It extends to the full range of behaviour that is free to pursue by the individual.
The right to education flows from right to life directly. If followed by the right to education, the right to life pursuant to Article 21 and the privacy of a citizen cannot be assured. The government of the state is obliged to make an attempt to provide its residents with educational facilities at all grades.
This Court has interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution of India by relying on the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi, where the Supreme Court held that:
“But the question which arises is whether the right to life is limited only to protection of limb or faculty or does it go further and embrace something more. We think that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely the bare necessaries of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expression oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings.
Of course, the magnitude and content of the components of this right would depend upon the extent of the economic development of the country, but it must, in any view of the matter, include the right to the basic necessities of life and also the right to carry on such functions and activities as constitute the bare minimum expression of the human self.”
In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India Ors., the Court held that-
“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 least, 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 essential.”
The SC relied on several other cases like E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu and Anr., Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. The International Airport Authority of India and Ors.  and Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi and Ors , D.P. Joshi v. The State of Madhya Bharat, and another, for arriving at the decision.
The object of the decision was to abolish the tradition of charging tuition fees for admitting students to educational institutions, as laid down in the Karnataka Educational Institutions Act, 1984 (the Act).
The Court abolished the payment of capitation fees as a condition of entry into any educational institution, public or private. Access to education must be understood for all citizens regardless of earnings, according to the ruling. If the State decides to fulfil its constitutional obligations through private institutions, these institutions must comply with the same constitutional requirements as the State.
Therefore, since capitation fees have income-based rather than merit-based access to education, they are found to be contrary to the right to education, and unconstitutional and in violation of the right to equal protection of laws under Article 14 of the Constitution.
The Court held that the fees charged under government regulation by the Medical College were capitation fees rather than tuition fees. Consequently, the fee payment was also in violation of the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Capitation Fee Prohibition) Act.
The Court was not willing to offer any relief in respect of the petitioner’s enrolment. She was not admitted to college on merit and the course began in March-April 1991 and so the Court did not see any justification to direct the State Government for admitting the petitioner to the medical college. The writ petition was allowed.
Right to Education
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 incorporated Article 21-A in India’s Constitution to provide free and mandatory education for all children in the six to fourteen-year-old age group as a fundamental right in the manner that the State that, by statute, decide.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which reflects the substantive law provided for in Section 21-A, ensures that each child is entitled to full-time elementary education of adequate and equal value in a formal school which follows such basic requirements and expectations.
The RTE Act, 2002 provides that-
- Children’s right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school until completion of primary education.
- It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means the appropriate government’s obligation to provide free elementary education and to ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of primary education for each child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child is responsible for any payments or penalties or costs that might prohibit him or her from obtaining and completing primary education.
- This calls for the entry of an unadmitted infant to an acceptable group of age.
- It defines the duties and responsibilities, free and mandatory practice, and sharing of funds and other responsibilities between central and state governments of the appropriate Governments, local administrations and parents.
- It appoints adequately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the required qualifications and entry.
- It will develop a curriculum in line with the constitutional values which guarantee the child’s entire development, build on the knowledge of the child, potential and talent and free the child of fear, trauma and anxiety through a child-friendly and children’s centre of the education system.
Citations: (1992) 3 SCC 666/ 1992 AIR 1858/1992 SCR (3) 658/ JT 1992 (4) 292/1992 SCALE (2)90
 2 SCR 516
  2 SCR 67
  2 SCR 348
  2 SCR 621
  3 SCr 1014
  2 SCR 79
  SCR 1215