The Supreme Court has upheld three separate verdicts of the high courts of Delhi, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh that the right to establish educational institutions is a fundamental right on which reasonable restrictions can be imposed “only by law” and not by an executive fiat.
The high courts had allowed the pleas of several pharmacy institutions against the July 17, 2019 resolution of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) imposing a moratorium on opening new pharmacy colleges to run diploma as well as degree courses for a period of five years beginning from the academic year 2020-21. A SC bench of Justices BR Gavai and PS Narasimha on Friday dismissed the PCI appeals against the high court orders.
Justice Gavai ruled, “Though there is a fundamental right to establish educational institutions, the same can be subject to reasonable restrictions, which are found necessary in the general public interest… reasonable restrictions on such a right can be imposed only by a law and not by an execution instruction.”
The SC said that the view taken by the high courts of Karnataka, Delhi and Chhattisgarh lays down the correct position of law.
The bench said, “There could indeed be a necessity to impose certain restrictions so as to prevent mushrooming growth of pharmacy colleges. Such restrictions may be in the larger general public interest… However, if that has to be done, it has to be done strictly in accordance with law…”
After putting a moratorium in July, 2019, the PCI modified it on September 9 that year and exempted government institutions, institutions from north-eastern states, and states and union territories where the number of institutions offering BPharm and DPharm are together less than 50.