Pharmacy Act, 1948 shall prevail over AICTE in the field of Pharmacy education

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah, JJ has held that in the field of Pharmacy Education and more particularly so far as the recognition of degrees and diplomas of Pharmacy Education is concerned, the Pharmacy Act, 1948 shall prevail.

The Court was hearing the case wherein conflict and the dispute arose because despite refusal by the PCI, the AICTE increased the intake capacity in the respective institutions, which were not approved by the PCI.

The Court held that since the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) consists of experts in the field of pharmacy and related subjects connected with the education of pharmacy, therefore, under the statute, specialized persons in the field of pharmaceutical, pharmacy etc. shall be the members of the PCI.

Regarding the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the Court said that only one member would be from the field of pharmacy and that too representative of PCI.

“Under the circumstances, the PCI is the body of experts connected with the subject of pharmacy and related subjects and therefore it will be in the larger interest and more particularly in the interest of education of pharmacy that PCI shall alone have the Jurisdiction in the field of pharmacy, rather than AICTE.”

The Court also took note of the fact that, both, the PCI and AICTE are the creature of the statute. Therefore, it is not at all healthy that the two regulators, both being Central authorities, can be permitted to fight for supremacy.

“The fight of supremacy between both the regulators is unhealthy for the education sector as well as the institutions to permit two regulators to function in the same field. Therefore also and more particularly when the PCI is consisting of the experts in the field of pharmacy and other related subjects, it is in the larger interest in the field of pharmacy that the PCI must be given the power to regulate in the field of pharmacy.”

It was, hence, held that the norms and regulations set by the PCI and other specified authorities under the Pharmacy Act would have to be followed by the concerned institutions imparting education for degrees and diplomas in Pharmacy, including the norms and regulations with respect to increase and/or decrease in intake capacity of the students and the decisions of the PCI shall only be followed by the institutions imparting degrees and diplomas in Pharmacy.

The Court, however, clarified that the present decision shall not affect those students admitted in the increased intake capacity and/or pursuant to the interim orders passed by this Court and/or final judgments and orders passed by the respective High Courts. It, hence, directed PCI to give consequential benefit of registration to such students. However, at the same time, all pending applications for increase in intake capacity and/or for recognition and/or approval of course/institutions in the pharmacy shall be as per the provisions of the Pharmacy Act, 1948 and the regulations, if any, thereunder and as per the norms and regulations fixed by the PCI.

It further directed the concerned institutions who increased their intake capacity as approved by AICTE and their increase in intake capacity was not approved by PCI, shall apply afresh for increase in intake capacity and/or evening shift for the next academic year within a period of four weeks from today and their cases for increase in intake capacity and/or applications for recognition and/or applications for approval of the course or evening shift shall be considered by the PCI in accordance with the Pharmacy Act, 1948 and rules and regulations framed therein and the norms prescribed by the PCI.

[Pharmacy Council of India v. Dr. SK Toshniwal Educational Trusts Vidarbha Institute of Pharmacy, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 296, decided on 05.03.2020]

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