Lucknow, September 28, 2023– In a landmark judgment, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that neither the State Government nor any Board constituted by it possesses the authority to revoke or cancel No Objection Certificates (NOCs) issued to Pharmacy Colleges. The Court firmly stated that this power exclusively resides with the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), as established by the Pharmacy Act, 1948.
The Pharmacy Act Prevails
Justice Om Prakash Shukla, presiding over the case, highlighted the special status of the Pharmacy Act, which operates within the realm of pharmacy. The Court emphasized that states cannot exercise jurisdiction in this field based on any general state legislation. This underscores the need for a specialized body like the PCI to regulate and oversee matters pertaining to pharmacy education.
Quoting Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Court addressed the issue of forgery, asserting that fabricating documents, such as orders from the Supreme Court, constitutes a serious offense under the IPC. The Court’s verdict aligns with the principles of the Pharmacy Act, which designates the PCI as the sole authority to grant affiliation to institutions imparting pharmacy education.
Violation of Principles of Natural Justice
The Court also addressed the violation of principles of natural justice in this case. It noted that the cancellation of NOCs by the State/Board gave rise to civil consequences and should have adhered to the principles of natural justice. The lack of show cause notices or opportunities for the institutions to explain the alleged discrepancies was deemed a procedural flaw. The Court stressed that any adverse action affecting civil rights should be carried out fairly and in accordance with established legal procedures.
The Precedent-Setting Judgment
Drawing from precedents, including the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of State of Tamil Nadu v. Adhiyaman Educational and Research Institute, the Allahabad High Court firmly established that neither the State Government nor the State Board holds the authority to cancel NOCs issued for D. Pharma Courses. The Court cited the PCI’s expertise in the field of pharmacy as a compelling reason for the PCI to exercise exclusive jurisdiction.
In summary, the Allahabad High Court’s judgment upholds the sanctity of the Pharmacy Act, asserting that it prevails over any state legislation, such as the U.P. Pravidhik Shiksha Adhiniyam, 1962. The ruling sets a significant precedent, emphasizing the importance of legal provisions and specialized bodies in regulating professional education and maintaining the highest standards of fairness and justice. The Court’s decision protects the rights of educational institutions and ensures that actions with civil consequences are carried out in accordance with due process.
This judgment not only reinforces the pivotal role of the PCI in regulating pharmacy education but also serves as a reminder of the importance of natural justice in administrative decisions. The Court’s faith in the PCI to conduct proceedings in accordance with the law and provide a fair hearing to all parties underscores the commitment to upholding the rule of law in matters of education and professional standards.
In the last, the Allahabad High Court’s verdict reaffirms the principle that special enactments, such as the Pharmacy Act, should be upheld in their respective fields, and decisions affecting civil rights must adhere to the principles of natural justice. The judgment serves as a significant legal precedent with implications for the governance and regulation of professional education across India.