P.A. Inamdar & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra

Read this case to learn about the Supreme Court's stance on reservation and quota in private institutions and regulations and setting up of committees in Islamic Academy.
CITATION(2005) 6 SCC 537
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMChief Justice R.C. Kumar, Justice G.P. Mathur, Justice TarunChaterjee, Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan and Justice R. Lahoti


This case discusses the merits and the further considerations taken by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in the matter of T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002).


The facts of the case are as follows: This is a case decided by a 2-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in which the dispute related to the fixation of quota in respect of unaided professional institutions and to the holding of examinations for admission into such colleges. The interpretation put by a 5-Judge Bench in the case of Islamic Academy of Education v. State of Karnataka, (2003) 6 SCC 697, on the 11-Judge Bench decision in the case of T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 8 SCC 481, was also in question. The 2-Judge Bench decided that the issues raised should be referred to a larger Bench for final determination having regard to the nature of the controversy involved in this case.

As an interim measure, for the academic year 2004-05, for the State of Karnataka, it was prima facie held in this case that the seats should be filled up by the institutions concerned in the ratio of 50:50 purely as a temporary measure and without prejudice to the contentions of the parties for the purpose of the final disposal. Likewise, Interim orders were issued for certain colleges in State of Maharashtra


The main issues in the case were:

  1. Is there a fundamental right to set up educational institutions?
  2. Does Unni Krishnan require reconsideration?
  3. In case of private institutions, can there be government regulations and, if so, to what extent?
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Summary of court decision and judgment

The setting up of the committees in Islamic Academy, the extent of quotas and state reservation in private institutions, and the regulation of fees was once again challenged before the Supreme Court and a larger bench of seven judges was set up in PA Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra,(2005) 6 SCC 537,in order to clarify the ratio of the judgment in TMA Pai. The Court in Inamdar held:

a. The policy of reservation cannot be enforced by the state nor can a quota or percentage of admissions be carved out to be appropriated by the state.

b. A common entrance test can be held by a group of similarly placed institutions provided that it is fair, transparent, and non-exploitative. The state may itself or through an agency, arrange for holding such tests and students can be admitted on the basis of merit out of these common entrance tests. However, the state may only take over if the three criteria mentioned above are not satisfied.

c. Every institution is free to devise its own fee structure subject to the limitation that there can be no profiteering and no capitation fee can be charged directly or indirectly, or in any form. NRI seats are permissible to the extent of 15 per cent in all institutions.

d. The two committees for monitoring admission procedure and determining fee structure under the judgment of Islamic Academy are permissible as regulatory measures.

e. In the absence of any central legislation, it is for the central and state governments to come out with a detailed, well-thought-out legislation on the subject.


In my view, the law laid down by TMA Pai and PA Inamdar has balanced the interests of private institutions with those of students and also filled gaps in policy. However, there are widespread and increasingly entrenched problems in the implementation of these judgments. Ineffectual regulation, official corruption, and inadequate state capacity to oversee the functioning of private institutions has led to the proliferation of colleges that have been set up solely to earn profit and exploit the demand-supply gap by charging exorbitant capitation fees. This is particularly so in medical education where thousands of students compete for a very limited number of seats.

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The Court should also be careful that broadly stated rights do not become dogma and prevent any regulation in the interest of students. For instance, the Medical Council of India’s attempt at conducting a National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admission to MBBS and BDS Courses and also PG medical courses, which was aimed at streamlining and providing a single window entrance procedure for all medical courses, was struck down by the Supreme Court in Christian Medical College v. Union of India, (2014) 2 SCC 305 on the ground that holding such a test violates the rights of private institutions under Article 19(1)(g) and under Article 30 of the Constitution.

The judgment in PA Inamdar intended to prohibit regulations for the benefit of thousands of students. Such an interpretation of the judgment is contrary to the spirit of PA Inamdar. In fact, private institutions’ objection to a single window test on the ground that their right to admit is violated reflects perverse motivations and the abuse of the wide rights conferred on them. Regulations aimed at greater transparency and merit in admissions would make it harder for institutions to exercise discretion in ways designed primarily to augment profits. This case is also proof that Indian educational institutions and the legal framework they are governed by must evolve further before a culture of self-regulation, practiced in some developed nations, can be adopted.


It took the Supreme Court over two decades to come to terms with the policy of the government recognizing the need for private institutions. PA Inamdar has now held the field for ten years now. The concepts of autonomy and liberalization that were first stated in 1948 in the University Education Committee report appear to have finally been incorporated into law through this judgment. Many states have implemented the judgment in Inamdar by enacting a suitable legislation. For instance, in Karnataka, consensual agreements are entered into under the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fixation of Fee) (Special Provisions) Act, 2006, which provide for seat sharing and fee fixation in medical and engineering colleges in the state.

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