Fee hike demand by colleges delayed counselling for MDS seats: Karnataka to SC

Fee hike demand by colleges delayed counselling for MDS seats: Karnataka to SC

NEW DELHI: A last-minute demand for an increase in fees by private dental college associations in Karnataka led to the delay in counselling for post-graduate dental admissions in the state, the Karnataka government told the Supreme Court on Thursday and requested that the last date for counselling for admission to Master of Dental Surgery course be extended till January 31.

Counselling for the MDS course across the country ended on November 20 but Karnataka conducted it from December 4 to 18. When the Centre and Dental Council of India refused the state’s request to regularise the admission of 633 students admitted to the MDS course, a private dental college in Karnataka approached the top court to seek its intervention, arguing that the students should not have to suffer due to the state government’s decision to delay counselling.

When the Karnataka government adopted a hands-off approach at a Supreme Court hearing on January 12 – it argued that the government had already made it clear to the students that their admission was provisional – the top court ordered the state government to explain it delayed the counselling.

In its response filed on Thursday, Karnataka principal secretary, department of medical education Naveen Raj Singh said: “The delay in the admission process was attributable to the time taken in entering into consensual agreement and in order to provide an opportunity for students with lowered percentile. The private colleges were demanding 20% increase in the fees and the government was not willing to accept the demand as the people at large were already undergoing financial hardships due to Covid-19 pandemic in the year 2020.”

For this reason, the state added, although consensus was reached between the state and private dental colleges association on the seat-sharing agreement as early as November 18, two days before the cutoff date, the agreement was not signed.

The Karnataka official said the demand for fees was made by the colleges at a meeting with the state government on November 2.

“In the said meeting (of November 2) all private colleges requested the state to write a letter to DCI seeking an extension of 45 days’ time for counselling. Since counselling is a common counselling, the same was not done even for the 15 governmental seats. This was because the future of a large number of students was at stake,” the Karnataka government said.

The agreement came to be signed on November 29 and 30 between the state and three dental college associations – Karnataka Religious and Linguistic Minority Professional Colleges Association, Karnataka Professional Colleges Foundation and Association of Minority Professional Colleges in Karnataka.

The affidavit said, “All the associations knew, on the date of signing of these agreements, that they were way past the cutoff date and these agreements were signed with a hope that central government shall intervene in the interest of 923 students (total MDS seats in the state of which 633 were filled).”

The government said that as soon as the agreement was signed, the state acted expeditiously.

The affidavit also requested the court to make an exception in the interest of students and allow counselling to be completed by January 31 for the 633 seats including 15 government college seats, 210 government seats in private dental colleges, 16 NRI seats, 294 seats filled up by private colleges on merit, and 98 by way of other categories.

“There was no intentional delay on the part of the state. Karnataka has already conducted counselling and granted admissions to 633 students. It is humbly stated that the last date of admissions may be extended to January 31 in the larger public interest and the interest of the students in the state of Karnataka,” the state urged the court. Karnataka added that the Centre and DCI have rejected the request to extend the deadline and a response to the third communication to the Centre reiterating the request is awaited.

The court is hearing a petition filed by a private college – Maratha Mandals Nathajirao G Halgekar Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre. The state government said that filing a petition in court was an afterthought as on December 13 when the college filed the petition, it shot a communication the same day asking Karnataka Education Authority not to allot any seat to the college due to delayed counselling.

Some of the affected candidates who took admission are also before the court. While taking admissions, the students were informed about the risk of taking admission beyond the cutoff date. The students represented by lawyer Charu Mathur earlier told the court that a delay in commencement of the 2021-22 will automatically delay the next batch leading to total disturbance in the academic cycle.

The case will be heard next on January 21.

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