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MCI rejects clearance to 70 colleges for more PG courses
NEW DELHI : The hope of over 70 medical colleges — private and Government — across the States to get clearance for starting new post-graduate medical courses or increasing seats in existing streams for the academic session 2014-15 has been dashed.

Acting tough, the MCI has turned down the Union Health Ministry’s recommendation to review its decision of not giving clearance to the medical colleges citing shortage of basic facilities, infrastructure and human resources such as teaching staff during the inspection of the medical colleges.

Sources in the MCI said on May 23 that Karnataka followed by Maharshatra top the list with as many as 19 and 11 medical colleges respectively being refused clearance to start new courses or enhancement of new seats in the existing courses.

“Every year, before admitting students into the subsequent year, the MCI conducts an inspection of the colleges to ensure that they have adequate infrastructure and staff. But some of the colleges for the past two-three years failed to clarify a number of shortfalls, including the staff shortage as well as the lack of infrastructure.

“Their case has been rejected as per set guidelines of the council. There was no reason to give them clean chit to start the new courses or enhance seats in the existing courses,” the sources added.

In fact, proposals of some of the colleges to start new courses/enhancement of seats were already turned down by the MCI. But under Section 10 (A) (4) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, they were given hearing by a panel of the Union Health Ministry.

“In many cases the panel asked the MCI to review its decision. However, refusing to budge in to the Ministry’s request, the MCI maintained it decision to not to give approval to them,” the sources added.

MCI amends its ethical code

NEW DELHI
:  If the Medical Council of India (MCI) has it’s way, professional associations of doctors like the Indian Medical Association will not be accountable to it for unethical practices in future, a Tribune report said on March 3.

The news report credited to Aditi Tandon said that the MCI has amended its existing Code of Ethics Regulations in a way to exempt professional associations of doctors from its reach.

The MCI moved the amendment to Regulation 6.8 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, which deals with the relationship which doctors and their professional associations have with pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry.

This regulation clearly states that a medical practitioner as an individual and an association will not receive gifts, travel facilities, hospitality, cash or other allowances under any pretext from any pharma firm or allied health service firm.

But the MCI, in its February 18 executive meeting, brought an amendment to the Code of Ethics Regulation for doctors for exempting the Professional Association of Doctors from the jurisdiction of the MCI.

Regulation 6.8 was notified by the MCI in December 2009 in the wake of misuse of loopholes in the ethics regulation of 2002 by professional associations of doctors including the Indian Medical Association.

Topmost among these misuses was the endorsement of Pepsi and Dabur products by the IMA functionaries in return for money and also of some products by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in return for favours.

In fact, the illegal endorsements of Pepsi and Dabur products was revealed by Kerala based practitioner Dr N Babu who continues to face harassment at the hands of the IMA for raising his voice against unethical practices.

The Ethics Committee of the past MCI which stands disbanded (elected MCI took over from Board of Governors last year) had recommended action against the endorsing docs and even suspension of their licences.

But the new move of the MCI ensures that the IMA in the pending matter goes scot free.

CPM leader Brinda Karat has now written to Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to stop this ill-conceived move” of the MCI.

In a letter to Azad, Karat has said: “Does it now mean that what is impermissible for an individual doctor is permissible if he or she acts in association with others? The absurdity is striking.” She has demanded rejection of the retrograde step of the MCI. (Courtesy : Tribune News Service)  

SC raps pro colleges for capitation fee
From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI :
On September 6 a division bench of the Supreme Court condemned the covert extortion of capitation fee and said that this unethical practice is affecting equity in professional education.

The bench comprising Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said that the trend had resulted in denial of admission to poor but meritorious students.

“Collection of large amounts by way of capitation fee running into crores of rupees for MBBS and postgraduate seats, exhorbitant fee, donation etc. by many such self-financing institutions has kept the meritorious, but financially poor students away from these institutions,” the Apex Court said.

The remark was made by the bench on September 6 while dismissing a petition filed by the Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, challenging the revocation of the permission granted for additional intake of students for the 2013-14 session.

The college was found to have obtained the permission on the basis of forged documents pertaining to the teaching staff.

The Supreme Court, in effect, gave a wake-up call to the Centre and states telling them to eradicate the practice of private educational institutions charging donation, capitation fee and exhorbitant amounts in other forms from admission-seekers.

Citing cases in which the CBI had to chargesheet former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss in 2012 and arrest Medical Council of India (MCI) president Ketan Desai in 2010, the SC said the trend was a clear pointer to the “deteriorating” educational system in the country.

While states had enacted “toothless” laws to ban capitation fee, allowing private institutions to “get away by paying meagre fines,” a Bill introduced in Parliament in 2010 was still pending for want of follow-up action, the bench regretted.

Pointing out that the mushrooming of a large number of medical, engineering and pharmaceutical colleges had “definitely affected the quality of education” in the country, especially in the medical field,” the bench said this “calls for a serious introspection.”

The SC rejected the petitioner's contention that the government could revoke the permission only after the conclusion of the trial and not after filing of the chargesheet by the CBI.

The Centre, the Union Health Ministry, the CBI and the intelligence wing should also take effective steps to eliminate such unethical practices and prevent self-financing institutions from turning into “students financing institutions,” the SC said.

“Private medical educational institutions are always demanding more number of seats in their colleges even though many of them have no sufficient infrastructural facilities, clinical materials, faculty members, etc,” it said.

CBI’s investigation “reveals a sorry state of affairs, which is an eye-opener for taking appropriate remedial measures in future so that medical education may attain the goals envisaged by the IMC Act and the Regulations and serve the community”, it said.

MCI, govt seek review of NEET case order
NEW DELHI :  On August 16 the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking review of the judgment declaring as unconstitutional the single National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) introduced by the MCI and Dental Council of India for admission to graduate and post graduate medical and dental courses.

A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir (since retd.) and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen had by a majority of 2:1 quashed the NEET on July 18. Mr. Justice Dave, in a separate judgment, held that the test was valid.

In its petition, the MCI said “If the July 18 judgment is not stayed, it will seriously prejudice the progress of the process of holding common entrance test which has been evolved over the period of more than five years of deliberations, judicial orders. The majority judgment is based on series of error apparent on the face of record, and is in ignorance of statutory provisions.”

In its petition, the Centre said that ensuring uniform standards for medical education was of paramount interest to the patient and the single-window system to draw the merit list was a step in that regard. Holding of common entrance test came about as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Simran Jain case, during the hearing of which a decision was taken that the MCI would hold a single entrance test since merit in medical education was essential to ensure quality healthcare to citizens.

It said the guidelines annexed to NEET ensured that the single-window admission system would be in breach of neither the rights of States nor would it interfere with rights of religious and linguistic minorities.

Sankalp, a non-governmental organisation, also sought review of the NEET judgment. It said the issue regarding holding a common entrance test for graduate and postgraduate professional courses was in teeth of the law laid down by a seven bench judgment of this Court in the P. Inamdar case.

It said the court had not appreciated that this court in the ‘Preeti Srivastava case’ had also held that a State had the right to control education, including medical education, so long as the field was unoccupied by any Union legislation.

Sankalp said: “As has been rightly held by the minority judgment that under NEET though the students can be selected only on the basis of their merit, it would be open to the States to follow their reservation policy and it would also be open to the institutions based on religious or linguistic minority to select students of their choice, provided the students so selected have secured minimum marks prescribed at NEET.” The petitioners sought oral hearing of the matter.

Azad writes to
PM on NEET
NEW DELHI : Union Health and Family Planning Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has written to the Prime Minister justifying the need for retaining the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges.

Mr. Azad’s letter comes within days after the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh protesting against the Centre’s decision to file a petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgment quashing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

In a dissenting judgment, Justice A.R. Dave had upheld the Medical Council of India’s decision to conduct this common entrance exam saying that holding of NEET is “legal, practical and need of the society.”

Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan wrote :

...There is a very thin line that divides what is dubbed as “corridor gossip” and to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, the “improbable truth”. It would have been impossible for anyone to have suggested anything questionable about the conduct of Justices Ruma Pal, Sinha, Thakker, Kapadia or a hundred others. A mischievous rumour-monger would have been nipped in the bud with the contempt he deserved right at the outset, simply because these eminences had carefully built spotless reputations over decades. With Kabir, the opposition to such a story is not so fervent.

In a little while, on his last day in office, the Chief Justice’s court will deliver the much awaited judgment concerning the validity of the national medical entrance test to be conducted by the Medical Council of India. For the better part of the last week, senior counsel and junior advocates alike have without compunction shared a story that the appeals by the private
colleges will be allowed with a declaration that the MCI has no jurisdiction, and that Justice Dave will dissent from this view. The judgment, it is confidently touted, runs into more than 190 pages and in excess of 300 paragraphs. It is my fervent hope that this tale is false – a figment of some perverse and destructive mind. In a few hours, we will know the truth.

In either event, the tragedy remains – that doubt has taken root. It is a long trudge uphill from here.

(Gopal Sankaranarayanan is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or position of Bar & Bench)

Click here to see the original article

MCI nod must for foreign doc visits
CHENNAI : No foreign national or NRI medical professional will henceforth be permitted to demonstrate procedures/ surgeries in India without prior permission from the Medical Council of India, says a MCI circular dated February 11.

The circular has been sent to all medical colleges/institutions, state medical councils, all medical associations and hospitals.

Clarifying that prior MCI permission/registration was mandatory, the February 11, 2011 circular, signed by MCI’s additional secretary P Prasanna Raj, said suo motu action would be initiated by the MCI against erring medical colleges/ institutions.

Aimed at verifying the credentials of foreign/ NRI medical professionals participating in continuing medical education (CME) programmes or workshops or post-graduate courses in India, the circular said: ‘‘This is to inform you that all foreign nationals/NRI faculty will have to take prior permission from the MCI in the prescribed form no. MCI-07 available on the website, if he/she demonstrates/conducts any procedure, intervention, surgery, drug therapy, application of any new device or any treatment, on a patient in any CME programmes/ workshop/ PG course or any other programme, conducted by medical college/ hospitals/ medical association or any other organisation in India.’’

The announcement has evoked mixed reactions from the medical fraternity across the country.

While some leading doctors agreed on the need to screen the bona fides of visiting medics, many felt that the proposal would needlessly hamper flow of knowhow and research findings into India.

Dr T D Naidu, president of the All India Medical Association and chairman, Chennai-based DD Medical Hospital and DD Hospital, welcomed the proposal and said verification of the bona fide of the foreign medical professionals by MCI would enhance credibility of the profession. ‘‘Some medical institutions flaunt foreign faculty without conducting due diligence on the professional’s standing and record in his/her home country,” Naidu said.

He also called upon MCI to step in and play an active role in whetting the memorandum of understanding being signed by Indian medical institutions with foreign entities. “A representative of the MCI shall be part of the expert team finalizing the fine print of such MoU,” he said.

While agreeing that prior permission was a must for performing surgeries or live demos on patients, doctors and institute heads said the MCI circular was too restrictive.
 

 

MCI acts tough on quality, 32% MBBS seats slashed

From Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI :
Following a tough line, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has cancelled about 32 per cent of MBBS seats nation-wide making competition for medical admission more tough.

Dr Jayshree MehtaAccording to reports the MCI withdrew permission for 15,890 of the 49,950 MBBS seats nation-wide citing lack of infrastructure and faculty requirements in the affected medical colleges. “In order to run a medical college, one has to meet the minimum requirements and regulation set by the MCI,” MCI President, Dr Jaishreeben Mehta told this correspondent.

The biggest loser in the MCI's quality check-up drive was the undivided Andhra Pradesh which lost 2,100 seats followed by Maharashtra (1,675), Karnataka (1,650), Tamil Nadu (1,450), UP (1,400) and Bengal (1,200).

The MCI teams toured all the colleges and inspected the premises before finally upgrading the seats in the existing medical colleges. Those under scanner in Andhra were Gandhi Medical College, medical colleges in Nizamabad, Nellore, and Tirupati, Andhra Medical College and also SV Medical College.

These colleges have existing medical seats but the increase in seats was given in the year 2013. A senior member said, “From 2013 to 2014, sufficient time was given to these colleges to upgrade the facilities. In the inspections carried out now, infrastructure has proved to be the biggest drawback.

Other Andhra colleges, too, had drawbacks like lack of hostel facilities, proper infrastructure to house extra students and the faculty.

A senior Andhra professor said, “The problem is that erstwhile state government has not paid proper attention while dispersing the funds. When the seats were to be increased they should have ensured that these facilities were in place.”

West Bengal which lost 1,200 seats was actually hardest hit. Of the 12 medical colleges that have together lost the seats 10 are run by the state government. Calcutta Medical College, which admitted 250 students last year, will be able to take in only 155 this year. The seat count at RG Kar has been slashed from 200 to 150.

“The Council this year has been strict in enforcing its norms. That’s why so many medical colleges have failed to make the cut,” said a council source.

“We have been instructed to make surprise visits to the medical colleges. Earlier, the colleges used to be informed about a visit two-three days in advance. This year we are calling up the authorities only after entering the campuses,” said a Council inspector.

“During inspections for MBBS seats, we have been asked to seek information about the postgraduate faculty, too. This is being done to prevent the practice of postgraduate teachers being shown as part of the MBBS faculty,” the inspector said.

However there is still hope for the axed colleges. “June 15 is the cutoff date to send their compliance report to MCI. If we find that they have been able to meet our requirements, we might reconsider on a case-to-case basis,” said Mehta.

In 2011, the MCI in its vision document for 2031, had said the country needed to add 10,000 MBBS seats every year. The UPA 2 government added 10,000 seats in the following three years but MCI officials argued that most of these seats were added to colleges that lacked proper facilities.

Govt 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 is recreated.

Introducing the 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.

CBI probe

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 country.

“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 office.

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,” it added.

Govt to seek review of NEET judgement

NEW 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 Eligibility cum-Entrance
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 his judgment.

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.

No NEET, SC gives pvt medical colleges a free run

By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI
: Taking a narrow, strictly juristic stand the outgoing Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and his fellow judge Vikramjit Sen on July 18 quashed the single-window National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and ruled that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had no power to issue notifications in 2010 to regulate medical admissions.

The judgement triggered off a raging controversy in the bar as the judgement was on the same lines as predicted on a website by an eminent lawyer a day before it was to be delivered. (See the adjoining column)

It came as a happy gift to 133 private medical colleges and those run by minorities, who had been struggling menacingly to win the case at all cost.

The Christian Medical College, Vellore; the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; several associations of private medical colleges; DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu; and various individual colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET to them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court.

The Union health ministry is said to be seeking legal opinion on filing a petition to review the judgment. If the verdict remains unchanged, it will allow each state to revert to the system in place before the NEET was launched.

On May 13 the bench had granted a major relief to private and government medical colleges (see story below) allowing them to declare the NEET results which were stayed by it earlier on December 13. The July 18 order was, therefore, almost on the expected lines.

The judgement of the bench, comprising CJI Altamas Kabir, Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice A R Dave (who expressed stark dissent) decides, for now, the fate of students admitted to 138 government and 133 private medical college, offering 31,000 MBBS and BDS as well as 11,000 MD seats.

Barring a couple of states and 133 private medical colleges the NEET was welcomed by students and parents as it spared them from multiple admission tests by offering them a single-window all-India National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

Delivering the majority judgement, on his last day before retirement, CJI Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramjit Sen forming majority, held that the notification mandating NEET violated private medical colleges' rights to carry on business guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) and the constitutional guarantee under Article 30 to the minority community to set up and manage educational institutions.

“We have no hesitation in holding that the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment) 2010 (Part II) and the Post-Graduate Medical Education (Amendment) Regulation 2010 (Part II) whereby the MCI introduced the single NEET and the corresponding amendments in the Dentists Act, 1948 are ultra vires the provisions of Articles 19(1)(g), 25, 26(a), 29(1) and  30(1) of the Constitution,” the Bench said.

Justice A R Dave in his dissenting note stressed that there was no proper discussion on the draft majority verdict which appeared to have been rushed through because the CJI was to retire soon.

Justices Kabir and Sen said that the MCI did not have power to force a single entrance test for controlling admissions to the medical colleges as it had been created only for the purpose of ensuring "excellence of medical education in India".

"We also have no hesitation in holding that the Medical Council of India is not empowered under the MCI Act, 1956 to actually conduct the NEET," the CJI said articulating the majority view.

The Bench said admissions were part of the right of an educational institution to administer, and these could not be regulated except for laying down standards for maintaining excellence in education. In the case of aided institutions, the State and other authorities might direct that a certain percentage of students be admitted by methods other than the one adopted by the institution concerned. However, in unaided institutions, the right to admit students could not be interfered with except for laying down standards to maintain excellence.

“In the case of aided minority institutions, it has been held that the authority giving aid has the right to insist upon admission of a certain percentage of students not belonging to the minority community so as to maintain the balance of Article 19(2) and Article 30(1) of the Constitution. Even with regard to unaided minority institutions, the view is that while the majority of students to be admitted should be from the minority community concerned, a certain percentage from other communities should also be admitted to maintain the secular character of education in the country in what has been described as a ‘sprinkling effect’,” the Bench said.

Apart from the legal aspects, the Bench said, “there can be no controversy that the standard of education all over the country is not the same. Each State has its own system and pattern of education, including the medium of instruction. It cannot also be disputed that children in the metropolitan areas enjoy greater privileges than their counterparts in most of the
rural areas as far as education is concerned, and the decision of the Central government to support a single entrance examination would perpetuate such divide in the name of … merit. In a single-window competition, the disparity in educational standards in different parts of the country cannot ensure a level-playing field.”

The bench said that though NEET stands quashed, admissions already made on its basis would not be affected by the judgment. The clarification was meaningless as far as admissions to the private medical colleges is concerned as these institutions had already taken exemption for this year from the purview of NEET.

The judgment took away what was actually given four years ago by another bench of Justice R V Raveendran (since retired) and Justice A K Patnaik after long deliberations during which it had focused on the benefit of single-window entrance test for all medical colleges.

In 2010, the bench of Justices Raveendran and Patnaik had strived to bring together the MCI and CBSE on the same page for conducting NEET. The bench was convinced that a single entrance test would save poor and meritorious students, by sparing them the physical and financial stress of having to travel from one city to another to appear in multiple entrance tests in the hope of bagging a MBBS, BDS or MD seat in a college.

What Justices Raveendran and Patnaik had expressed in 2010 found reflection in Justice Dave's dissent. In differing with the views of Justices Kabir and Sen, he appeared to rely on the old proverb "justice hurried is justice buried".

Against a 173-page judgment by the CJI, Justice Dave penned a 35-page dissent and said: "As the Chief Justice 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 my different views..."

Justice Dave said: "it cannot be said that introduction of the NEET would either violate any of the fundamental or legal rights of the petitioners or even adversely affect the medical profession. In my opinion, introduction of the NEET would ensure more transparency and less hardship to the students eager to join the medical profession."

"Let us see the consequences, if the apex bodies of medical profession are not permitted to conduct NEET. A student, who is good at studies and is keen to join the medical profession, will have to visit several different states to appear at different examination held by different medical colleges or institutes so as to ensure that he gets admission somewhere," he said.

On the other hand, "The NEET will facilitate all students desirous of joining the medical profession because the students will have to appear only at one examination and on the basis of the results of the NEET, if he is found suitable, he would be in a position to get admission somewhere in the country and he can have the medical education if he is inclined to go to a different place."

Quoting MCI counsel Nidesh Gupta, Justice Dave said he had informed that some medical colleges, who are more in profiteering business rather than in the noble work of imparting medical education, take huge amount by way of donation or capitation fees and give admission to undeserving or weak students under one pretext or the other.

Justice Dave said: "if only one examination in the country is conducted and admissions are given on the basis of the result of the said examination, in my opinion, unscrupulous and money minded businessmen operating in the field of education would be constrained to stop their corrupt practices and it would help a lot, not only to the deserving students but also to the nation in bringing down level of corruption."

Affected : The judgement will not effect the medical counselling by the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) scheduled to be conducted from July 22 to 25.

Declaration of med admission test results allowed

From Sanjeev Dube
NEW DELHI :
On May 13 the worried medical study aspirants got a major relief from the Supreme Court which vacated stay on the declaration of National-Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) results.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir modified its December 13 order, which paved the way for announcement of NEET results -- a test introduced by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The court order, in effect, implies that all private and government colleges can announce the results for admissions for the academic year 2013-14. The court will deliver its final verdict on NEET on July 2 or 4.

“The students, who aspire to gain entry to the medical colleges at the MBBS and BDS and the postgraduate levels, have been caught in a legal tangle for no fault of theirs and are victims of policy decisions. In order to safeguard their interests, as also the interest of the hospitals, we consider it just and equitable to lift the bar imposed by us on December 13, 2012, for this year’s entrance examinations,” the court said.

“We modify our order of December 13, 2012, and allow the results of the examinations already conducted to be declared to enable the students to take advantage of the same for the current year.” The court, however, said its judgment on the validity of the NEET would be passed in July.

It added: “We are also alive to the fact that it is the postgraduate students in the medical colleges who take charge of the medical treatment of patients in the hospitals. Without fresh entrants into the postgraduate courses, even for a year, the hospitals are likely to be adversely affected on account of lack of doctors to directly take care of the patients.”

About 65,000 students can now be admitted to the various postgraduate, MBBS and BDS (dental) courses across the country. Teaching hospitals, where PG students make up a large chunk of the junior doctor workforce, have been spared a possible crisis.

On December 13 last year, the apex court had prohibited the publication of results of medical admission tests conducted this academic year till it had decided on a batch of 115 petitions before it.

The case before the court relates to a MCI order of December 2010 relating to NEET — for postgraduate and undergraduate medical and dental courses. The order said the NEET would be the sole entrance exam across India and that the states and private medical colleges cannot have their separate admission tests.

Many states, private medical colleges and other educational institutions challenged the MCI move in various courts across the country, arguing it was an infringement on their rights.

After passing the December 13 order, the apex court transferred to itself a batch of 115 petitions on the matter on January 15. But it could not complete the hearing before the court went into summer vacation on May 13.

If the court later decides in favour of the MCI and scraps the state-conducted entrance exams, the judgment will only have prospective effect — this year’s admissions would not be affected.

Bengal and many other states had anyway decided to comply with the MCI order and did not hold their own medical entrance tests this year, but some states and private medical colleges did. Bengal students took the NEET for postgraduate courses in November last year and the NEET for MBBS courses on May 5.

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and several associations of private medical colleges, among others, had filed petitions in their respective High Courts and obtained an interim stay on NEET applicability to them. Aggrieved, the MCI filed transfer petitions and these cases stood transferred to the Supreme Court to avoid multiplicity of proceedings.

CMC, 75 others allowed to hold own entry test

By Sanjeev Dube
NEW DELHI:
On December 13 the Supreme Court allowed private religious and linguistic minority institutions to hold their own admission tests for medical courses but bluntly refused to stay the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for 2013-14.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices S SNijjar and J Chelameswar, however, directed the colleges to withhold the results till the objection of the consortium of private colleges is decided by the apex court before January 18.

The bench, in its interim order, allowed Christian Medical College, Vellore and 75 other petitioner minority medical colleges, who had moved the apex court on December 10, to conduct their own admission tests to fill MBBS and MD seats.

Senior advocates K K Venugopal, K Parasaran, Harish Salve, Rajeev Dhawan and P P Rao pointed out that since NEET was to take place from the next academic session, the court would serve public interest by staying it for a year.

However, Medical Council of India counsel, senior advocate Nidesh Gupta, pointed out that many private and government colleges have already opted for NEET to select candidates and a stay on it would not serve public interest. But it was also pointed out that in some states, the high courts had stayed NEET, allowing state-based medical colleges to have their own
entrance tests.

The court, however, declined to stay NEET while allowing private minority institutions to conduct their own tests and posted the petitions for final hearing on January 14. It said the fate of the individual sate-level tests would be subject to the final outcome in court.

The petitioner colleges had claimed exemption from NEET on the ground that they, being either religious or linguistic minority colleges, were entitled to autonomy in administration of their educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution.

The order came as a big relief for colleges including Christian Medical College, Vellore who had announced and publicised the date of their admission tests. Some colleges had even received applications from admission seekers. With the Supreme Court expected to break for vacations, the matter would have extended to January. For this reason, the colleges had urged for an interim order.

The colleges had demanded the apex court to examine the question of law raised by them as admissions to MBBS/BDS courses would follow by May-June next year. The apex bench devised a middle path by directing both the minority colleges and the Centre to hold separate examinations without disclosing results. The colleges were allowed to notify students about
the exam and the pending case in SC in order to clarify that based on the final outcome of the petitions, the court would decide whether private minority colleges were bound by NEET result.

Meanwhile a report from Hyderabad said that the officials of the Medical Education and Higher Education Departments were in favour of waiting till the Supreme Court conducts the final hearing in the third week of January before announcing the schedule for EAMCET, as any announcement at this stage may create more confusion among students.

Backgrounder

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and several associations of private medical colleges, the Christian Medical College, Vellore, DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu, and various individual colleges had filed petitions in respective High Courts and obtained an interim stay on NEET applicability.

Aggrieved, the MCI filed petitions seeking transfer of these cases to the Supreme Court to avoid multiplicity of proceedings. The Supreme Court, while staying all further proceedings, issued notice to the respondent colleges/States/associations seeking their response.

In the interim order passed on the petitions, the Bench said that while the main pending matters needed to be decided early, “the time taken in hearing the matters should be utilised in allowing the students to sit for their examinations which have been already notified. Accordingly, let all the transferred cases, as well as the writ petitions, be listed for final hearing and disposal on January 15, 16 and 17, 2013.”

MCI to stay, Human Resource for Health Bill off

NEW DELHI: Strong Centre-vs-states polarisation has forced the Union government go slow on the Human Resource for Health Bill 2011 which has drawn the wrath of three strong political opponents of the ruling UPA coalition.

According to indications available here the direct fallout of the Union-state tiff would be that the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) and Dental Council of India (DCI) would get a fresh lease of life.

Though as many as 10 states backed the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill, 2011, stiff opposition from Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi and Jayalalitha sealed the fate of the bills in the Parliamentary Standing Committee this week which was examining the legislation.

Officials representing West Bengal, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu raised several questions on the rationale of forming the over-arching regulatory commission for medical education, loaded with “experts” picked by the Centre.

Barely two months before Trinamool Congress severed ties with the Congress-led UPA government, the principal secretary of West Bengal informed the Parliamentary panel that the state was not in favour of passing the bill in its present form as it proposed shifting self-regulation of professional bodies to a central and technocratic regulator.

“A properly strengthened individual council with a term limit and definition of the office bearers as public servants in terms of Indian Penal Code, besides an accountability mechanism in place would suit the need better than having an over-arching body with gigantic mandate,” he said in his deposition on July 31.

Besides MCI and DCI, the proposed NCHRH sought to replace Indian Nursing Council and Pharmacy Council of India with an umbrella organisation.

The apex council would have three constituent bodies to look after educational standards, enforcement and ethical medical practice.

“The bill attempts to create amechanism so overwhelming that it is likely to breed delays. The three constituent bodies are purely nominative in character and there is no democratic element. Since medical education is a concurrent subject, some representation to the states is a must in the proposed commission,” said principal secretary to Gujarat government, in his
statement, which is a part of the Parliament panel’s report.

This would undermine the powers of the state governments and leave them with no role to play in policy issues, said Tamil Nadu in its deposition.

While the Central government sought to eradicate corruption from professional medical education bodies, the states insisted that determining term limits and definition of office-bearers and a provision to remove them in case of blatant corruption or misuse of official power would have sufficed to cleanse the existing councils.

Rejection of the NCHRH Bill by the House panel and possible revival of the MCI may figure at the state health ministers’ conference here on Friday to discuss issues concerning medical education and human resources versus health.

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 penal actions.

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 year.

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.
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