The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Pharmacy Council of India to accept and process the applications of new pharmacy colleges which had moved the Delhi and Karnataka high courts against a moratorium issued by the statutory body. Expressing concern over the mushrooming of pharmacy colleges in the country, the top court said nowadays, education has become an industry, and there are big business houses.
“Because of the high cost of medical education here, students from India were required to go to Ukraine. It is much cheaper there,” the apex court said.
A vacation bench of justices B R Gavai and Hima Kohli made the observation while hearing an appeal filed by the Pharmacy Council of India against the orders of the two high courts.
“By way of ad-interim orders, we direct the Pharmacy Council of India to accept and process the application of the applicants who were petitioners before the high court and no final decision be taken on approval or disapproval till final decision,” the bench said, posting the matter for hearing on July 26.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Pharmacy Council, submitted that the moratorium was issued due to the mushrooming of pharmacy colleges, and in fact, these are “industries” in garb of institutions.
The counsel for the colleges stated that they have lost three years due to the moratorium. Responding to this, Mehta said, “The objectionable part is that colleges are saying we lost three years. I can understand students saying so but not colleges which are industries.”
The top court was hearing appeals filed against a Delhi High Court order which set aside the moratorium issued by it on the opening of new pharmacy colleges for five years with effect from the academic year 2020-21.
The high court had said that a statutory body must trace the source of its power to a statutory provision and the exercise of executive authority by PCI in the present instance was in excess of its powers and thus cannot be sustained.
The judgement was passed on a batch of 88 writ petitions challenging the moratorium and its exceptions. The petitioners were entities which claimed to be desirous of establishing pharmacy colleges and therefore, needed prior approval of the PCI.
The moratorium did not apply to government institutions, institutions in the north-eastern region, and the states or union territories where the number of D.Pharm and B.Pharm institutions is less than 50.