5-year moratorium on new Pharmacy Colleges: Chh HC’s interim order directing PCI to consider application for affiliation stayed; Matter to be disposed of in 4 weeks: SC

Supreme Court: In a case related to PCI’s decision to impose 5-year moratorium on the opening of new Pharmacy Colleges for degree and diploma courses, the Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai, JJ., imposed a stay on the Chattisgarh High Court’s interim order directing the PCI to permit the respondents to submit their application required for the necessary permission and approval and also for grant of necessary affiliation for the academic session 2022-23.

The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) had approached the Court to assail the impugned interim order of the Chattisgarh High Court in Chouksey College of Pharmacy v. Pharmacy Council of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 3735, wherein the Court had directed the PCI to allow the Respondent herein to submit their application for approval and affiliation for the Academic Session of 2022 – 2023 and to conduct requisite formalities of inspection, etc. except for the granting of permission and approval for admissions.

The genesis of the case relates back to PCI’s notice imposing a 5-year moratorium on the opening of new Pharmacy Colleges for degree and diploma courses vide its decisions dated 17-07-2019 and 09-09-2019 in view of the mushrooming growth of pharmacy colleges, the escalating pharmacist to population ratio which is in excess of the standards of the World Health Organisation, the lack of job opportunities for qualified pharmacists, the vacant seats every year, among other cogent and scientific reasons.

The Respondent institution, desirous of starting a new pharmacy college for the Academic Year of 2021–2022 and aggrieved by the PCI’s decision to impose a moratorium had challenged the same before the High Court on the ground that in on identical set of facts in Shifa College of Pharmacy v. Pharmacy Council of India, W.A. No.746 OF 2020, the Karnataka High Court had held that PCI has the power to regulate, but not prohibit the opening of new colleges and had consequently, quashed the moratorium imposed by the PCI.

Relying on the judgment of the Karnataka High Court, the High Court, by an interim order, had directed the PCI to permit the respondents to submit their application required for the necessary permission and approval and also for grant of necessary affiliation for the academic session 2022-23. The Court further directed to process the application and conclude the requisite formalities of inspection etc., except for the granting of permission and approval for going in for the admissions. So far as the final order of approval and permission as required in terms of the Pharmacy Act was concerned, the same was held to be undertaken after the final outcome of the Writ Petition or the withdrawal of Order by the Pharmacy Council of India, whichever is earlier.

The appellant had challenged the impugned order on the following grounds:

  • The High Court failed to consider that SLP (C) 19671/2021 was pending in the Supreme Court against the judgement of the Karnataka High Court, and although there was no stay on the operation of the said judgement, the outcome of the same is pending and the impugned order would cause grave prejudice to the PCI.
  • The PCI’s decision to impose a moratorium is also the subject matter of challenge in 2500+ Writ Petitions in the Delhi High Court; the petitioners had relied on the judgement of the Karnataka High Court as well as on the impugned interim order of the Chhattisgarh High Court, seeking parity with the Respondent herein.
  • The Delhi High Court had directed the PCI to respond as to why the impugned interim order of the Chhattisgarh High Court should not be followed.

Additionally, the appellants contended that the impugned interim order had been passed without giving any reason insofar as relevant factors like a prima facie case, irreparable injury, balance of convenience, public interest etc. so as to come to the conclusion that granting of an interim relief was warranted in the case.

In the backdrop of above, the Supreme Court had imposed a stay on the impugned interim order with the direction to the High Court to hear the writ petition finally and dispose it of expeditiously, not later than four weeks. A notice, in this regard was also issued to the respondents.

[Pharmacy Council of India V. Chouksey College of Pharmacy, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 1050 of 2022, decided on 07-02-2022]


Appearance by:

For Appellants: Zoheb Hossain, AOR, Tulika Gupta, Advocate

For Respondent(s): Nidhesh Gupta, Sr. Advocate, Mrigank Prabhakar, AOR, Pai Amit, AOR, Siddharth R. Gupta, Sunita Gupta, Shivam Singh Baghel, Pranjal Agarwal, Aditya Bhat, Omkar Kambi, Suraj Naik and Pankhuri Bhardwaj, Advocates


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put story together


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