THE seven-member Bench in the P.A. Inamdar case heard the petitions of unaided minority and non-minority professional colleges seeking clarifications in the T.M.A. Pai and Islamic Academy judgments. The issues before the Bench were only three: the quota for admissions/students in respect of unaided professional institutions; the examinations for admissions to such colleges; and the fee structure.
On the quota issue, the Bench held that the state cannot insist on unaided private educational institutions implementing the state's reservation policy for granting admission on any criterion other than merit. It held that the judgment in the T.M.A. Pai case did not approve of the state forcing such institutions to submit to its reservation policy. State regulation should be minimal and only with a view to maintaining fairness and transparency in the admission procedure and checking the exploitation of students by charging exorbitant fees or capitation fees. Minority institutions are free to admit students of their choice, including students from non-minority communities and also members from other States of the community of those who run the institution, both to a limited extent and not in a manner and to such an extent that their minority status is lost. Otherwise, they would lose the protection of Article 30(1), it ruled.
On the entrance test issue, the Bench held that all institutions imparting the same or similar professional education can join together to hold a common entrance test satisfying the triple tests of fairness, transparency and non-exploitativeness. The state can also provide a procedure for holding a common entrance test in the interest of securing fair and merit-based admissions and preventing maladministration. If the admission procedure so adopted fails to satisfy all or any of the triple tests, the state can take it over, substituting it with its own procedure.
On fees, it held that every institution is free to devise its own fee structure, but the same can be regulated in the interest of preventing profiteering. No capitation fee can be charged.
The judgment in the Islamic Academy case, insofar as it evolves the scheme of two committees, one each for admission and fee structure, does not go beyond the law laid down in the T.M.A. Pai case, it said. The Bench, therefore, dismissed the challenge to the setting up of the two committees. Issues referable to areas covered by the T.M.A. Pai case and yet open to question shall have to be answered by a Bench larger than the one that decided the Pai case, it felt.