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Punjab action against 400 doctors

CHANDIGARH : Punjab Medical Council (PMC) has initiated action against more than 400 doctors whose names it had traced in three states and it plans to suspend their registration.

The council found the doctors' names on record as teachers at four private medical colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, while they had practice in Punjab.

During inspection at MM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Mullana (Ambala); MM Medical College and Hospital, Kumarhatti (Solan); Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, Banur; and Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences, Bathinda, the council found that the head of its own ethics committee was among the list of such teachers.

PMC president Dr GS Grewal confirmed the process to initiate action against these doctors was on. “Irrespective of their status, none of them will be spared. Starting March 17, we are going to issue them show cause notices,” he said.

Sources said the council would give the doctors 15 days to explain; and if they had shifted out of the state indeed, the Medical Council Act requires them to delist with the PMC within 30 days.

“The least we can do is ask them to get themselves deregistered, and register with Haryana or Himachal Pradesh, or whereever they claim to be teaching,” Dr Grewal said. This will be a serious consequence for the doctors. Once the registration is suspended or cancelled, they can’t work in Punjab.

Reacting to the development, Dr Raj Bahadur, vice-chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, said that the problem was rampant in private medical colleges. “What kind of doctors these colleges would produce anyone can imagine,” he further said.

The doctors shown to be working full-time at the colleges and drawing full pay visit these institutes only once in a week or 10 days to circumvent the Medical Council of India (MCI) rules.

MCI amends its ethical code

:  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
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.

Azad writes to
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)

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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.


 No quota in PG admissions, asserts SC

By Rajiv Shukla

On October 27 the Supreme Court directed the Union  government and all state government to ensure that super-speciality medical admissions are kept "unreserved, open and free" following complaints that some southern states were allowing only domiciled MBBS doctors to appear for PG medical entrance exams.

Delivering a 58-page judgment in Dr. Sandeep and others versus Union of India and others the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice P.C. Pant said that there should be no reservation in post-graduate medical courses based on caste, religion, residence or any other criteria.

The order came on a batch of petitions challenging the domicile policy followed by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana based on the Presidential order, namely, Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions (Regulations and Admissions) order of 1974 promulgated under Article 371(D) of the Constitution which gave special privileges of education and employment to the local people of Andhra Pradesh.

The bench cited an earlier case - Dr Pradeep Jain versus the Union of India and others - in which the top court had held in 1984 that merit was the sole criterion when it came to super-speciality medical admissions. But till date, it said, the government has not framed any rules or guidelines to implement the directive.

"In the Dr Pradeep Jain case this court... observed that in super-specialities there should really be no reservation. This is... for improving the standard of higher education and thereby... the quality of available medical services...," Justice Misra, who wrote the judgment, observed.

"We hope and trust that the Government of India and the state governments shall seriously consider this aspect... without delay and appropriate guidelines shall be evolved by the Indian Medical Council so as to keep the super specialities... unreserved, open and free."

The petitioner doctors had complained that while in most of India they are allowed to appear in entrance exams of different states for courses like DM (Doctor of Medicine) and MCh (Master of Chirurgiae), Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu permitted only those domiciled in these states.

This, they said, means that while candidates domiciled in these states can sit for exams in other states, students from other states are barred from taking exams in these states.

The petitioners said this went against constitutional provisions like Articles 14 (equality before law) and 16 (equality of opportunity in public employment, education, etc.).

The court asked the Andhra and Telangana authorities to objectively assess the policy to see whether it does justice to the aspirations of students and approach the issue keeping national interest as paramount.

The petitions filed said how students from other States, namely, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Haryana, allow candidates from all over India to appear in the entrance examination.

It complained that States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu confine the eligibility only to the candidates having domicile in their respective States.

This judgment only deals with the two States of Andhra and Telangana. The bench observed that it would consider Tamil Nadu's case separately in a hearing scheduled for November 4, 2015.

Supreme Court defends MCI's PG admission rules

By Rajiv Shukla
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 that the 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 examination.

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," it said.

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 such candidates.

"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
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.Dr Harsh Vardhan

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 the 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 MCI 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 e-magazines.

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 acknowledgement.

“MCI officials took the shocking stand that they did not have time to go through the compliance statements,” he said.

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 the PIB

“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 candidates.

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 privately owned.

“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 Vardhan said.

“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 young lives.”

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 Minister said.

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 students’ interest.

“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 commented.

Govt move to have say in Medical Council

From Our Correspondent
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
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.

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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