By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI: On January 12 the Supreme Court upheld the
Medical Council of India's (MCI) postgraduate admission
regulations and quashed Kerala government's
decision to reserve seats for doctors working in its
hospitals and other departments.
The court said, in no uncertain terms,
that the admissions to the postgraduate medical courses
can be done only on the basis of merit of students
appearing in the common entrance examination.
The apex court division bench comprising
Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi said
Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations of the
Medical Council of India, 2000 were
binding and state governments could not make any rule in
violation of the regulations.
The state, the apex court said, overstepped its
jurisdiction by making a law earmarking 40% of total
seats available to the state quota for its medical
officers who were to get admission on the basis of their
seniority, without appearing in the entrance
Delivering its judgement in
Sudhir N. & ors. versus State of
Kerala & ors.
on January 12 the
bench said : "Regulation 9 (of MCI) is, in our opinion, a complete
code by itself inasmuch as it prescribes the basis for
determining the eligibility of the candidates including
the method to be adopted for determining the inter se
merit which remains the only basis for such admissions.
To the performance in the entrance test can be added
weightage on account of rural service rendered by the
candidates in the manner and to the extent indicated,"
The court said the method, however, was given a go-by by
the impugned legislation when it provided that
in-service candidates seeking admission in the quota
shall be granted such admission not on the basis of one
of the methodologies but on the basis of seniority of
"When the maximum marks to be obtained in the entrance
test for admission to the institutions for higher
education including higher medical education are fixed,
the state cannot adversely affect the standards laid
down by the Union government. It was held that it is for
the MCI to determine reservation to be made for SC/ST
and OBC candidates and lowering the qualifying marks in
their favour," it said.
Upholding the order, the apex court, however, objected
to the observation made by the High Court in which it said that
seniority of in-service candidates should be considered
while preparing merit list.
"A meritorious in-service candidate cannot be denied
admission only because he has an eligible senior above
him though lower in merit. It is now fairly well settled
that merit and merit alone can be the basis of
admission. Their merit cannot be overlooked only to
promote seniority which has no place in the scheme of
MCI regulations," it said.
Minister's outburst at MCI's
curb on MBBS seats
By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI : On August 2 Health Minister Harsh
Vardhan gave vent to his anger at the Medical Council of
India (MCI) bosses saying that they were actually
“punishing” the MBBS aspirants rather than the medical
colleges who ought to be hauled up for deficient college
infrastructure and facilities.
His contention was that MCI, the apex
regulatory body for medical education, was being harsh
on the MBBS aspirants instead of medical colleges for
not complying with rules, which, he said,
has ended up reducing the number of seats and harming
career of many students.
His outburst was a reaction to the
Supreme Court’s Order of July 31 quashing the Ministry’s
plea for modification of the time schedule for granting
approvals to new colleges and renewal of permission to
existing seats in old colleges.
The ministry had, it may be recalled, filed an interlocutory petition in
the court in
Priya Gupta vs Chhattisgarh
case last month, after it did not receive any
response from the MCI over its suggestion to review 150
cases. The petition seeking extension of the date for
whetting the compliance reports filed by colleges was
rejected by the Supreme Court when the MCI opposed it.
Referring to this situation
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Instead of supporting our plea
in court, I am surprised the MCI opposed it. This makes
me wonder whose side are they on.”
Dr. Vardhan, who had earlier charged the
with corrupt practices, said it was an open secret for
years that the MCI looked the other way while medical
colleges rampantly flouted regulations.
“Suddenly, this year they have struck. But why are they
not punishing managements? Students have been punished.
For many of them the dream of becoming a doctor has
evaporated as they would be forced to pursue studies in
other disciplines,” he said in his statement on August 2.
Dr Vardhan said that though 2,750 new MBBS seats were approved this year,
applications for the renewal of 3,920 seats were
rejected by the MCI for the failure of colleges to meet
its requirements, causing a net deficit of 1,170 seats.
He said that the MCI took a “bureaucratic” attitude and did not
reveal an awareness that it was dealing with young
lives, noting that most of the deficiencies in
the colleges were minor like problems with
air-conditioning or about the thickness of partition
walls in buildings.
MCI’s “adversarial” position despite his requests, Dr.
Vardhan said, led to the Supreme Court dismissing the
ministry’s plea seeking modification of the time
schedule for granting approvals to new colleges and
renewal of permission to existing seats in old colleges.
There was also the issue of the shortage of faculty
which is an old irritant, he said, adding that
permission was declined in some cases merely because
college library did not have sufficient number of
journals, a “irrelevant” issue in the age of
The best solution would have been to admit students and
then pressuring the managements of colleges to take
necessary steps, he said. Even though most of the
colleges complied with the MCI’s demands, there was no
“MCI officials took the shocking stand that they did not
have time to go through the compliance statements,” he
Dr. Vardhan said he had “personally” requested the MCI
president to think of the fate of students instead of
“placing a premium on the frivolous deficiencies of the
colleges”. “But it had no impact on her,” he added.
The minister's statement triggered of a
reaction from Chingleput Varadapillai
Bhirmanandham, a senior cardiologist and vice-president
of the MCI : "Let someone point out what wrong we have
done in a single case.....We have applied
rules uniformly to all colleges.”
The MCI has registered 392 medical
colleges that offer about 48,000 MBBS seats, but
sections of MCI officials as well as senior medical
academics have for years been concerned at the lack of
adequate infrastructure in some of these colleges.
“Medical colleges need to have the right
strength of faculty, the right kind of laboratory
facilities, and adequate clinical material (patients),”
Bhirmanandham said. “A college needs to have an adequate
number of patients in OPDs (out-patient departments) and
in hospitals. We do not want colleges to generate
sub-standard doctors,” he said.
The following is the minister's statement released by
“MCI’s autonomy needs human face”—Dr Harsh Vardhan
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has criticised
the Medical Council of India (MCI) for taking an
adversarial stand on students while cancelling seats in
medical colleges. This has led to the loss of 1,170
medical seats in the 2014-15 academic year, thereby
nipping in the bud the dreams of many meritorious
In his reaction to the Supreme Court’s Order of July 31
quashing the Ministry’s plea for modification of the
time schedule for granting approvals to new colleges and
renewal of permission to existing seats in old colleges,
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Instead of supporting our plea
in court, I am surprised the MCI opposed it. This makes
me wonder whose side are they on.”
There were applications to raise the existing number of
seats because of new medical colleges being opened and
existing ones adding seats. Eventually 2,750 were
approved. But, on the other hand, the applications for
3,920 seats for fresh renewal were struck down for their
failure to meet MCI’s requirements. The net deficit,
therefore, is 1,170. Of the 46 colleges affected, 41 are
“For years it was an open secret that MCI was looking
the other way as medical colleges rampantly flouted
regulations. Suddenly, this year they have struck. But
why are they not punishing the managements?” Dr Harsh
“The students have been punished. For most of those
affected the dream of becoming a doctor has evaporated
as they would be forced by circumstances to pursue
studies in other disciplines. On the other hand the
managements can rectify the problems by next year. This
to me is inhuman,” the Health Minister remarked.
He said he had received numerous delegations of
students, doctors, institution managements, members of
parliament and other stakeholders complaining of MCI’s
attitude. At one point –early June – more than 10,000
seats were in jeopardy, but owing to the Ministry’s
persistent advocacy, the MCI was forced to climb down.
The best solution, keeping in mind the national
interest, would have been to admit the students and then
pressuring the college’s managements to implement the
necessary steps, the Minister stated. However, the
Minister regretted, “MCI took a bureaucratic attitude
and did not reveal an awareness that it was dealing with
He pointed out that most of the
“deficiencies” in the MCI’s reports were about problems
with air-conditioning, or about the thickness of the
partition walls in buildings and, of course, the
shortage of faculty which is an old irritant. In some
cases, permission was cancelled only because the
libraries did not have sufficient number of journals
–which is irrelevant in the age of e-magazines.
But even though most of the colleges have complied with
the MCI’s demands, there was no acknowledgement. “MCI’s
officials took the shocking stand that they did not have
time to go through the compliance statements,” the
The Ministry had referred 150 cases, most of them
government colleges, for review to MCI but there was no
response. Finally it filed an interlocutory application
(IA) in the
Priya Gupta vs Chhatisgarh case seeking
extension of the date for whetting the compliance
reports filed by colleges. Naturally the Court sought
the MCI’s opinion on this at the first hearing of the IA
on July 24. But MCI did not support this and sought
time. On July 31 too, it did not take a favourable
stance. That led to the Apex Court dismissing the
Ministry’s application which sought to protect the
“Effectively MCI did not keep the sentiment of students
in mind. It wanted to punish students instead of the
college managements. I had personally requested the MCI
President to think of the fate of the student instead of
placing a premium on the frivolous deficiencies of the
colleges. But it had no impact on her,” Dr Harsh Vardhan
move to have say in Medical Council
From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI: Failing to replace the scam-ridden
Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new outfit, the
Centre has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend
the original legislation in order to empower the Centre
with legal authority to intervene in matters of
corruption and policies on medical education after MCI
Indian Medical Council (amendment) Bill,
2013, in the Rajya Sabha earlier this week, Union Health
Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the proposed amendments
would make the composition of the council compact and
more representative while empowering the Centre to
discharge its functions effectively.
The MCI, in its previous format, was free from
government influence -- a practice which had both
advantages and disadvantages. A section of
office-bearers, however, in the past abused the
regulators autonomy for personal gains.
The new bill was drafted after the Central governments
plan to replace the scam-tainted MCI with a National
Commission for Human Resources on Health came to a
naught after three years of efforts.
A bill proposing formation of NCHRH as an umbrella
regulatory body for medical and para-medical education
was rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Health, which raised serious apprehensions on various
provisions of the proposed NCHRH bill.
The initiative was undertaken after the previous MCI
president Ketan Desai was caught by the Central Bureau
of Investigation for accepting bribe from a medical
college. Creation of the NCHRH was one of the promises
UPA government made after being voted back to power
second time in 2009.
The new bill would seek to replace an ordinance,
promulgated on May 21, 2013, giving powers to its
central-government appointed board of governors to run
the MCI till new members are elected.
The bill seeks to give powers to the central government
to remove any MCI office bearers including president and
vice president if, among other things, they acquire
financial interest in any medical college or convicted
of an offence. Nobody would hold the post of president
or vice president for more than two terms.
A new section in the bill empowers the Centre to give
directions to the MCI on policy matters.
Representation of states in the council has been
rationalised with the ability of each health university
in a state to elect one MCI representative for ten
medical colleges. The number of representatives in the
MCI will be reviewed once in four years.
Govt mum, NGO seeks
review of NEET judgement
From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : While the Central government is still
trying to make up its mind to seek a review of the
NEET case judgement,
an NGO called Sankalp filed a petition in the Supreme
Court on August 5 seeking review of its July 18 order
scrapping National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)
for admissions to MBBS, BDS and post graduate courses in
all medical colleges in the country.
The NGO, which had earlier filed an intervention
application, described the July 18 judgment as “error
apparent” as, it said, NEET was required to streamline
the admission process in medical colleges all over the
“In fact, one of the main considerations for having a
common entrance test conducted by the MCI is to check
the malaise of moneymaking business in the admission
process by selling their seats for crores, which has
been going on for so many years in private colleges,”
said the petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The apex court, it may be recalled, had quashed the
notifications for NEET on the ground that it violated
the rights of state and private institutions to
administer such institutions. The plea said the verdict
needed to be relooked as there was “no discussion at
all" among the judges before delivering it.
The majority judgment was authored by Chief Justice
Altamas Kabir, who pronounced it on the last day of his
In a dissenting judgment, Justice A R Dave said the
NEET would prove to be a “boon” to the students aspiring
to join medical profession.
The judgment ran into controversy over its reported
leakage on a website, prompting Justice Kabir to issue a
press statement denying any wrongdoing. In the review
petition, the petitioner also pointed out that there was
no discussion among the judges, as pointed out by
Justice Dave in his verdict.
It further submitted that the majority view erred in
holding that a common admission test would take away the
rights of private, minority and linguistic institutions
to admit students.
“A common entrance test can by no stretch of
imagination curtail the fundamental right to practise a
profession guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g)… The right
guaranteed to religious and linguistic minorities to
establish and administer educational institutions of
their choice does not allow them to mal-administer such
institutions,” it said.
“This court, in the judgment, further erred in observing
that the single-window competition cannot ensure a level
playing field because of the disparity in educational
standards in different parts of the country. It is
submitted that if that is the logic, then the court
should have considered scrapping the Civil Services
Examination which through a single-window test chooses
officers for IAS, IPS, IFS and other central services,”
to seek review of NEET judgement
DELHI : The Ministry of Law and the Ministry of
Health have agreed to petition the Supreme Court for a
review of the controversial
NEET case judgement that has given a
free run to private medical colleges in the country.
In an internal note recommending a review of the split
2:1 majority decision, the two ministries have agreed to
ask the apex court to consider the crucial aspect of the
verdict having been delivered without deliberations
between the judges.
The Supreme Court had, on July 18, in a majority verdict
by the outgoing Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir and
Justice Vikramjit Sen had scrapped the National
Test (NEET) for admission to MBBS, BDS and post-graduate
courses in medical and dental colleges.
In a dissenting judgment, Justice AR Dave had upheld the
Medical Council of India’s decision to conduct this
common entrance exam.
“As the learned CJI is to retire within a few days, I
have to be quick and therefore, also short. Prior to
preparation of our draft judgments we had no discussion
on the subject due to paucity of time and therefore I
have to express different views,” Justice Dave wrote in
It is on this point the government will request the top
court to reconsider its judgment.
An unhappy government had made clear its intention of
exploring all legal and legislative options to reverse
verdict. “We will go to any extent to get this common
entrance test restored,”
said an official.
Meanwhile Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa urged
the Centre on July 29 not to appeal against the verdict
quashing the NEET. In a letter to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, Jayalaithaa said efforts to reintroduce
NEET would infringe on the state’s rights and admission
policies to medical institutions in Tamil Nadu.
Minister hurt :
“We are very upset (over the judgment). I have asked the
officials to study the order to decide on the future
course of action,’’ Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had
said here on July 19.
The minister said the Supreme Court merely said the MCI
should not conduct exams but did not say who else should
conduct the tests. “It would lead to problems for those
aspiring for medical degrees. Students across the
country now have to run from pillar to post,” Azad said.
The apex court had previously allowed the MCI and the
Dental Council of India to issue notifications for
conducting the examination and gave green signals to go
ahead with the
examination process. A bench of justices R V Raveendran
and A K Patnaik disposed of a bunch of petitions
challenging the NEET after the MCI assured the court all
rules had been put in
place and the Central Board of Secondary Education would
conduct the examination.
The option available with the ministry, sources said,
might be to amend the Indian Medical Council Act of
1956, giving MCI legal powers to facilitate students’
entry into medical education.
Subsequently, a new outfit can be created for conducting
the common entrance examination.
SC tells medical colleges,
don't offend MCI norms
NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court has warned private medical colleges on
admitting students in blatant defiance admission norms stipulated by the
Medical Council of India (MCI) from time to time.
Issuing this warning, a Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter
Kumar made it clear that the MCI Regulations must be strictly adhered to
by the medical colleges.
Reiterating directions it had issued in the case of ‘Priya Gupta vs.
State of Chhattisgarh,’ it said the MCI, the Centre, the States and
medical colleges should strictly adhere to the admission schedule
prescribed by the MCI. Any default in compliance with these conditions
or attempt to overreach these directions shall, without fail, invite
The Bench said, “It is difficult and not even advisable to keep some
windows open to meet a particular situation of exception, as it may pose
impediments to the smooth implementation of laws and defeat the very
object of the scheme. These schedules have been prescribed upon serious
consideration by all concerned. They are to be applied stricto sensu and
cannot be moulded to suit the convenience of some economic or other
interest of any institution, especially, in a manner that is bound to
result in compromise of the principles.”
The Bench reiterated the following directions: commencement of new
courses or increases in seats of existing courses of MBBS/BDS are to be
approved/recognised by the Government of India by July 15 of each
calendar year for the relevant academic sessions of that year.
The MCI shall, immediately thereafter, issue appropriate directions and
ensure the implementation and commencement of admission process within
one week thereafter; After July 15 of each year, neither the Union of
India nor the Medical or Dental Council of India shall issue any
recognition or approval for the current academic year. If any such
approval is granted after July 15 of any year, it shall only be
operative for the next academic year and not in the current academic
The Bench said: “Any medical or dental college, or seats thereof, to
which the recognition/approval is issued subsequent to July 15 of the
respective year, shall not be included in the counselling to be
conducted by the concerned authority and that college would have no
right to make admissions in the current academic year against such
seats; The admission to the medical or dental colleges shall be granted
only through the respective entrance tests conducted by the competitive
authority in the State or the body of the private colleges. These two
are the methods of selection and grant of admission to these courses.
However, where there is a single Board conducting the State examination
and there is a single medical college, then in terms of clause 5.1 of
the MCI Eligibility Certificate Regulations, 2002 the admission can be
given on the basis of 10+2 exam marks, strictly in order of merit.”
The Bench was dealing with appeals relating to admissions made by
Geetanjali Medical College and Hospital in Rajasthan for the year
2008-2009 and Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in the same
State. Geetanjali College got permission from the Union government on
September 16 and it admitted 117 students, 101 on the basis of 10 + 2
marks and 16 on the basis of common entrance test conducted by the
State. The Rajasthan High Court set aside the admissions on the ground
that the admissions were made in violation of MCI Regulations. Similar
allegation was made against the Mahatma Gandhi College in respect of
admissions of six students.
Disposing of the appeals, the Bench directed that none of the 117
students who were otherwise eligible for admission to the MBBS course
would be disturbed from pursuing their MBBS course.
The Bench, however, directed the students to pay Rs. 3 lakh each to the
State government within three months. It said: “In the event of default,
the students will not be permitted to take the final year examination
and the admission of the defaulting students shall stand cancelled and
the College will have no liability to repay the admission fee already
paid. The amount so paid to the State government shall be spent by it
for improvement of infrastructure and laboratories of the government
medical college.” The Bench gave a similar direction in respect of six
students admitted to the Mahatama Gandhi Medical College and Hospital.