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92nd report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Health and Family Welfare

Madras HC stops seat allotment in PG classes
CHENNAI:
In an interim order on April 17 the Madras High Court directed the Director General of Health Services (DGHS), New Delhi and Tamil Nadu’s state selection committee not to allot PG medical seats to any students both under the all-India quota and state quota until further orders.

The authorities can go ahead with the counselling process, but they shall not allot seats till further orders, said Justice S Vaidyanathan in his interim orders.

The judge passed the orders on a batch of misc writ petitions (7608 of 2018), including those filed by in-service candidates, seeking direction to DGHS to comply with Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, in admissions to PG medical courses, and award due weightage (incentive) marks for service rendered in remote/difficult areas.

Some of the petitions also wanted reservation of 50% of seats for in-service candidates under the all-India quota as well. When the pleas came up for hearing, assistant solicitor-general Karthikeyan submitted that though the first phase of counselling had been completed, admissions would not be made till the court passed final orders.

The petitions filed by Dr C Sudhan (Dr. C. Sudhan Vs. The Government of India)
and six others said they were in-service candidates in Tamil Nadu Medical Services, working as assistant surgeons in government medical facilities. They had appeared for NEET PG-2018 and secured more than 50% marks and were duly declared as eligible for admission to PG medical courses this year.

Some of the petitions also wanted reservation of 50% of seats for service candidates under all-India quota too.

“The places we serve are notified as remote/difficult by the state government and hence we are entitled for additional weightage (incentive) marks as per Regulation 9 (IV) of PG Regulations 2000 under all India quota seats. But, authorities are proceeding to conduct counselling for admissions to PG courses without awarding such weightage marks for in-service candidates,” the petitioners said.

Claiming that the move was in violation of MCI regulations, they added that it would adversely affect the interests of the petitioners who were entitled to weightage marks for service rendered by them in remote/difficult areas for determination of merit in selection.

They further pointed out that even in admissions made during the last academic year, the authorities had failed to allot the mandated 50% seats to service candidates as required by the regulation. Tamil Nadu has 1,648 PG medical seats in its 13 government medical colleges. Of this, 50% go to the all India quota for which counselling would be conducted by DGHS.

The remaining 50% would go to the state quota filled by directorate of medical education through a seperate counselling.

Out of such 50% state quota seats, in-service candidates are demanding 50% reservation.

Rules tweaked to favour some for medical seats
Desk Report
NEW DELHI
: Counselling authorities in some states slyly tweaked rules to favour some cash-rich clients, giving them admission to coveted medical seats hoodwinking the hawk eye of the apex court.

According to a news report published in the Hindustan Times on September 13 the Government-designated counselling authorities in states such as Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab and Puducherry allegedly adopted inconsistent norms to enrol students in the last round of admission to medical colleges for MBBS courses.

These norms contravened guidelines set by the Supreme Court, Medical Council of India and the Health Ministry, the report said.

Citing an instance of Bihar the report said that the state opened the final counselling session at 5 pm on August 31, the last day of admission, and asked candidates to bring demand drafts of more than Rs 10 lakh drawn in favour of colleges.

Parents alleged that no banks are open from 5 pm to midnight. But candidates, who came through commission agents, had their demand draft ready in advance in favour of the colleges that they were supposed to be assigned after the counselling.

Similar irregularities happened in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and Punjab.

The allegations defeat the purpose of the Supreme Court-mandated National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), for more than 60,000 MBBS seats in 474 private and government colleges in India.

Introduced last year to weed out corruption in medical education, NEET provides students rankings by which colleges offer admission through state-run counselling sessions. Complaints of irregularities surfaced in the final leg, called left-out or mop-up round, of the counselling process.

The report quoted Deepak Kumar Gupta of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh who said he got a text message from Karnataka officials at 11 pm on September 4 to appear in a final-leg counselling session the following day by 11 am in Bengaluru.

He took a morning flight from Lucknow and reached the admission office at 10 am.

“The officer rejected my application because I didn’t have the draft. I requested for time or take money through NEFT (online transfer). But it was turned down,” he alleged.

Such irrational demands were allegedly made to deny deserving candidates seats and give admission to lower-ranked students.

Allegations have surfaced that officials and touts connived to deny meritorious students seats and these were then sold on the sly.

“We have access to the majority of private colleges in Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Puducherry,” the news report quoted a tout from east Delhi as having said.

Bihar medical education director Prabhat Kumar dismissed the allegations.

“We started counselling at 3 pm and allowed transfer of money through NEFT as well. We gave time till 1 pm the next day,” he said.

But Kumar admitted the mistake of not mentioning the payment mode in the official advertisement. Students denied the NEFT, or online payment, option.

Candidates scoring as low as 107 got seats during the second leg of admissions in Puducherry. But students such as R Akash, with 128 marks, didn’t get admission despite officials calling a final round to fill 96 vacant seats.

Punjab’s counselling authority, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), informed on September 2, which was a Saturday and a holiday for Eid, that students should appear for the final round with a demand draft at 11am on Monday.

BFUHS vice chancellor Raj Bahadur denied any wrongdoing. He said: “We accepted bank drafts of any amount in the name of BFUHS so that colleges don’t refuse admission to candidates.”

In Madhya Pradesh, the final round began at 4pm on September 10 and ended at midnight, the last day of counselling.

“A candidate with 191 marks was selected, but students with more than 400 marks were left out,” a student alleged.

A Madhya Pradesh official clarified that it was done to give preference to candidates from the home state.

SC okays replacement of MCI panel
NEW DELHI :
On July 18 the Supreme Court allowed the Centre to replace the MCI oversight committee with a fresh panel of five doctors.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, said the Centre had proposed the names of five eminent doctors to replace the oversight committee led by former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, whose term had just expired.

"The doctors proposed are all outstanding people. We are satisfied with the names," the bench, also comprising Justice J Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, D Y Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer, said.

The judges however wondered whether the eminent doctors would have time to carry out the task of hearing the grievances of private colleges against the MCI.

The committee, set up by the court on May 2, 2016 was to function for a period of one year or till a suitable mechanism was brought in by the Centre to substitute it.

However, the government neither extended Justice Lodha panel’s term nor evolved a procedure to monitor MCI’s functioning. This prompted some private medical colleges to approach the apex court.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the government counsel informed the court that the government had taken the consent of the doctors. He said the panel can start functioning and the government will approach the court if there is a need for modification.

The fresh names suggested by the government are Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS, Delhi; V K Paul, Professor and Head of Paediatrics, AIIMS; Nikhil Tandon, Professor and Head of Endocrinology, AIIMS; Jagat Ram, Director of PGIMER, Chandigarh; and B N Gangadharan, Director of NIMHANS, Bengaluru.

Supreme Court panel
to monitor MCI

NEW DELHI
: Endorsing the 92nd Parliamentary Standing Committee report on MCI the Supreme Court on May 2 used its rare and extraordinary powers under the Constitution toFormer Chief Justice of India R M Lodha set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for at least a year.

Delivering its judgement in Modern Dental College and Research Centre and others case the 5-judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice Anil R. Dave, in a 165-page judgment, said that the apex court was constrained to exercise its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution as the government had not acted on the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. Its report on ‘The functioning of the Medical Council of India’ was tabled in Parliament on March 8, 2016.

The judgment referred to the parliamentary panel report, which described the MCI as an “ossified and opaque body” unable to cope with the “humongous” task of managing medical education in over 400 colleges across the country.

‘Unethical practices up’

“Quality of medical education is at its lowest ebb, the right type of health professionals were not able to meet the basic health needs of the country. Products coming out of medical colleges are ill-prepared to serve in poor resource settings like Primary Health Centres. Graduates lacked competence in performing basic health care tasks. Unethical practices continued to grow. The MCI was not able to spearhead any serious reforms in medical education,” the judgment said, citing the panel report.

“The MCI neither represented the professional excellence nor its ethos under the MCI Act,” Justice A.K. Sikri, who authored the judgment for the Bench, said, referring to the Parliamentary
panel report.

Besides Justice (retired) Lodha, the committee has Professor (Dr.)Dr S K Sarin Shiv Sareen (Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences) and Vinod Rai (former Comptroller & Auditor General of India).

The Supreme Court said the Justice Lodha committee “will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee. The Committee willMr Vinod Rai be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate
mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.” The court referred to how the Centre had set up the Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury expert panel in July 2014 to study the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and make recommendations.

No action taken

Though the committee did submit its report in September the same year, no action was taken on the reforms suggested by it, including overseeing under-graduate and post-graduate medical education.

Unethical practices

Medical professionals indulge in unethical practices conducting unnecessary diagnostics tests and surgical procedures in order to extract money from hapless patients, the judgment said.

“The challenges facing medical education of the 21st Century are truly gigantic... Game changer reforms of transformational nature are therefore the need of the hour and they need to be carried out urgently and immediately,” it said.

‘MCI has failed on
all its mandates’


The department related standing committee on Health & Family Welfare looked into the functioning of the MCI in its 92nd report. The committee is chaired by Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav, a Rajya Sabha member from the Samajwadi party. The committee has 10 members from the Rajya Sabha and 21 members from the Lok Sabha.

In its scathing report, the standing committee felt that the MCI has repeatedly failed on all its mandates over the years. The committee noted the following as some of the prominent failures of MCI.

  • Failure to create a curriculum that produces doctors suited to working in Indian context especially in the rural health services and poor urban areas. The committee felt that this has created disconnect between medical education system and health system.
  • Failure to maintain uniform standards of medical education, both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
  • Devaluation of merit in admission, particularly in private medical institutions due to prevalence of capitation fees, which make medical education available only to the rich and not necessarily to the most deserving.
  • Failure to produce a competent basic doctor.
  • Non-involvement of the MCI in any standardized summative evaluation of the medical graduates and post-graduates.
  • Failure to put in place a robust quality assurance mechanism when a fresh graduate enters the system and starts practicing.
  • Very little oversight of PG medical education leading to huge variation in standards.
  • Heavy focus on nitty-gritty of infrastructure and human staff during inspections but no substantial evaluation of quality of teaching, training and imparting of skills.
  • Abysmal doctor-population ratio.
  • Failure to create a transparent system of medical college inspections and grant of recognition or de-recognition.
  • Failure to guide setting up of medical colleges in the country as per need, resulting in geographical mal-distribution of medical colleges with clustering in some states and absence in several other states leading to disparity in healthcare services across states.
  • Acute shortage of medical teachers.
  • Failure to oversee and guide the Continuing Medical Education in the country, leaving this important task in the hands of the commercial private industry.
  • Failure to instill respect for a professional code of ethics in the medical professionals and take disciplinary action against doctors found violating the code of Ethics.

The committee also felt that the onus of failure has to be shared by successive governments both at the center and states also. The committee noted that the medical education is fast sliding downwards and quality has been hugely side-lined in the context of increasing commercialization of medical education and practice. The committee further noted that incremental tweaks won’t be enough and that a complete overhaul of the system is necessary. The committee observed that MCI is an opaque body with very little transparency.

‘Doctor – Population ratio should guide the setting up of new Medical Colleges’

The committee made a number of recommendations to overhaul the system. Some of the important recommendations of the committee are the following,

  • Doctor – Population ratio in India is 1:1674 as against the WHO norm of 1:1000, hence the government should immediately spell out policy stance in great detail to augment the capacity of production of doctors including specialists and super-specialists at the scale and speed required to meet India’s health needs.
  • State level doctor-population ratio should guide the setting up of new medical colleges and also the increase in UG and PG seats. Medical manpower planning should be bottom-up also and not just top-down with each state planning for an optimal number of doctors, with a target of 1:1000 doctor-population ratio.
  • The regulatory framework of medical education and practice should be comprised of professionals of the highest standards of repute and integrity, appointed through a rigorous and independent selection process. This process must be transparent. Nominations could be sought but the reason for the final selection should be made public.
  • Urgent measures have to be taken to restructure the composition of MCI to encourage diversity so that it does not become an exclusive club of doctors.
  • Physical infrastructure requirement should be pruned down in such a way that it should have just about 30 to 40 percent standing value in the total assessment of a medical college.
  • Support to convert district hospitals into medical colleges. If a district hospital is converted into a medical college, it will not only be equipped with specialists of all disciplines, providing the healthcare services across the whole spectrum but will also produce some doctors in its area of operation and will thus help reduce geographical mal-distribution of doctors.
  • The PG entrance exam should be held immediately after the final MBBS examination so that the graduate doctor could concentrate on practical skills during his internship.
  • Soft skills (including ethics) should be made one of the cornerstones of the syllabus of medical education.
  • Introduction of Common Medical Entrance Test (CMET) should be done across the nation barring those States who wish to remain outside the ambit of the CMET. However, if any such States wish to join the CMET later, there should be a provision to join it.
  • A common exit test should be introduced for MBBS doctors as an instrument of quality assurance and to ensure that the qualities and competencies of a doctor before he starts practicing are guaranteed and standardized in terms of various quality norms.

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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 SC to rule on quota for govt docs in PG courses

By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI :
The Supreme Court will soon rule on whether in-service doctors can be allowed benefit of seat reservation in post-graduate degree courses by the state government.

The Supreme Court had in Dr. Sandeep s/o Sadashivrao Kansurkar vs Union of India and others delivered on 27 October 2015 specifically said that there cannot be any kind of reservation in PG admissions except as stipulated in the MCI regulations.

On April 17 a five judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Deepak Misra reserved the order after hearing the arguments against the denial of reservation benefits to in-serve candidates wishing to pursue PG degree medical courses.

Many states have reserved 50 per cents seats in PG medical courses for medical officers in government services despite clear bar by the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations.

The five-judge constituion bench hearing the Aadhar case acknowledged the importance of the matter and heard the counsel for the petitioners.

A batch of petitions by Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and doctors from Kerala, Maharashtra and Haryana challenged the validity of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 framed by the MCI.

The bench orally observed that there cannot be a merit list other than the Central (all-India) and the state lists.

All admissions to PG medical seats are through National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) under which 50 per cent seats are to be filled through all-India merit and 50 per cent through the state quota.

Pleading their case the counsel for the petitioners from Tamil Nadu said that allowing reservation to them would encourage doctors to work for the state service and in rural areas. On the other hand the counsel representing the Central government and the MCI said that the state have no legislative competence to reserve seats. "Deserving candidates would be replaced by in-service candidates. This is not permissible. This would lead to lowering of standards," the counsel for MCI pleaded.

The MCI counsel said that the first round of counselling has been completed and passing an interim order would jeopardise the scheme.

The matter reacherd the five-judge bench after a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha last week favoured consideration by a larger bench for passing an emergent interim order. The court had then said it wanted clarity on the distribution of powers between the Centre and the states.

PG courses to be must for all medical colleges

By Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI:
All medical colleges in the country must have postgraduate courses within three years and the new ones within three years of receiving recognition to run undergraduate (UG) courses.

According to a set of amendments suggested by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare the move is aimed at adding 10,000 more PG seats in next four years. The country presently has about 38,000 postgraduate seats for about 68,000 MBBS graduates who come out of medical college every year.

The amendments to be made to Post-graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 say that the colleges that fail to do this will lose their recognition. 

The Regulations 2000 will apply to both private and government medical colleges. “There are several medical colleges running only undergraduate courses and wasting valuable resources. It is more prudent to make use of the existing infrastructure than invest in building expensive new colleges,” said a senior health ministry official on condition of anonymity.

According to the health ministry’s estimates, it costs up to ₹4 crore to create a seat in a new medical college, while it costs just about ₹1.2 crore to do so in an existing institute. Colleges will have to apply to start offering post- graduate programmes, following which the MCI will inspect them.

The colleges need to pass the inspection within three attempts to retain recognition. “This is to ensure colleges start PG courses. People have a knack for circumventing rules so we have ensured they have no option but to start PG courses,” the official added.

In an effort to increase seats, the ministry had revised the teacher-student ratio in government medical colleges in 2017, with the benefit now extending to private colleges also. The revised norms permit one professor to have three students under him and one associate professor to have two students, up from the 1:2 ratio for professors and their students, and 1:1 for associate professors.

“This will also give us more PG seats but colleges will have to apply for new seats. There will be proper inspection and the seats will increase for 2019-20 academic session,” the health ministry official said.

Experts welcomed the move but warned that monitoring the quality of doctors produced is equally imperative.

“Increasing PG seats is necessary because many students don’t take up medicine, thinking there is only a 50% chance of their doing PG. But the government must ensure that the quality of training is not compromised,” said Dr KK Talwar, former chairperson, MCI, and former director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

The revised norms permit one professor to have three students under him and one associate professor to have two students, up from the 1:2 ratio for professors and their students, and 1:1 for associate professors.

“This will also give us more PG seats but colleges will have to apply for new seats. There will be proper inspection and the seats will increase for 2019-20 academic session,” the health ministry official said.

Experts welcomed the move but warned that monitoring the quality of doctors produced is equally imperative.

“Increasing PG seats is necessary because many students don’t take up medicine, thinking there is only a 50% chance of their doing PG. But the government must ensure that the quality of training is not compromised,” said Dr KK Talwar, former chairperson, MCI, and former director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

SC upholds MCI's surprise inspection right

By Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI :
On September 21 the Supreme Court of India ruled that the Medical Council of India has the right to conduct "surprise inspections" of medical colleges to check compliance with its norms and regulations.

The ruling was delivered in a case, Indian Centre for Advancement of Research and Education Haldia (ICARE) & ANR. Vs. Union of India & Anr wherein a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar rejected the plea of Haldia-based college's allegations of "mala fide" against the medical education regulator.

After a surprise inspection, the MCI had recommended to the Centre not to allow further admissions to the petitioners on the ground that it had failed to meet various norms such as bed and teacher strength.

The court noted that after the medical college had "submitted that it had complied with deficiencies pointed out by the team of assessors, the Medical Council of India (MCI) thought it necessary to have a (surprise) inspection... to verify whether the institution was really compliant".

The MCI's verification report of April 24 this year cited "a number of deficiencies", the bench noted in their recent judgment.

Observing that the assessors were "experts in the field", the bench rejected the charge of "mala fide" made in the joint petition by the Indian Centre for Advancement of Research and Education (Icare), Haldia, and its medical college.

"In the absence of any kind of material brought on record, the mere allegation that there was a surprise inspection, within a fortnight (of the first inspection), would not make the inspection a tainted one," the court said.

"In the present appeal, there is no allegation made by KIMS of any mala fides of the inspection team or any perversity in the inspection report and hence, there is no question of challenging the conclusions of a neutral, randomly selected inspection team in its assessment", the bench said.

The petitioners had requested the court to quash the health ministry's May 31 order refusing to renew the medical college's recognition, and direct the Centre to recognise the MBBS degrees awarded to its latest batch of graduates.

The medical college claimed to have corrected all the deficiencies mentioned by the regulator.

But Chief Justice Mishra observed: "At the time of consideration of recognition, the compliance is viewed and scrutinised with great rigour and strictness. What may be treated as a minor deficiency at the initial stage may not remain so when the institution/college proceeds from year to year."

However, with the students' interests in mind, the court said: "We think it appropriate to direct that the students who have been admitted... shall be permitted to continue in the courses and the students who pass out from the institution, the MCI shall see to it that they are conferred degrees."

It did not comment on the stoppage of further admissions to the medical college, which was established in 2011.

NEET is back, SC bench scraps earlier judgement

By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI :
In a landmark move the Supreme Court of India on April 11, 2016 recalled its one of the most controversial judgements -- NEET case judgement -- and ordered that "the case be heard afresh".

The case, called National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) case was delivered on July 18, 2013 by the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir a dayAltamash Kabir before he was to retire, giving ample relief to private medical colleges. Some  private medical colleges had challenged the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India regulations on admissions to medical and dental college -- and the relief allowed them to have their way in the matter of admissions.

With the recall of the judgement status quo ante has been restored and the MCI has been told to organise a combined all-India admission test for private and government medical colleges.

However, the MCI vice-chairman Dr C V Bhirmanandham has expressed his inability to hold the all-India test this year because of paucity of time and this may allow the private players to have their way this year as well.

Hearing the review petitions on April 11 the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A R Dave and comprising Justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, A K Goel and R Banumathi recalled the judgment dated July 18, 2013 which had quashed NEET. It said the “majority verdict“ delivered by then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir did not consider an earlier SC judgment that was binding on the bench, nor had he consulted other members of his bench.

Incidentally Justice A R Dave, who headed the 5-judge Constitution bench that recalled the earlier order had given a dissenting verdict in the NEET case. In his April 11 order he specified that he was not consulted by the then CJI Altamas Kabir.

The April 11 order comes just a month before separate entrance tests are to be held for government and private medical colleges, putting lakhs of students in confusion. There are over 400 medical colleges in the country and lakhs of students sit for admission tests for over 52,000 MBBS seats. Since 2013, state governments and private colleges have conducted separate examinations for these.

Monday's order leaves Medical Council of India with the onerous task of conducting the NEET at a short notice as students have already filled in forms for several entrance tests.

Immediately after judgment reviving the NEET was pronounced in open court, stunned lawyers appearing for private colleges, pleaded that the SC clarify the consequences. The bench replied that “natural consequence“ was that NEET comes into force. It said the court would give a fresh hearing on constitutional validity of NEET but in the meantime, the exam will be restored. The lawyers then pleaded that the MCI's notification to bring NEET back be stayed till its validity was decided afresh and said that in 2013, too, an interim stay was given. The bench, however, rejected the plea saying the interim order was only for one academic session and it could not continue.

“After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College needs reconsideration,“ the bench said.

Recalling earlier order the Constitution bench allowed review petitions by the Union government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) against the July 18, 2013, verdict and restored the NEET 2011 notification.

“The NEET regulations are restored and MCI can conduct the examinations pending the fresh judgement,” the order said.

According to the 2011 notification, the CBSE was to conduct the tests for admission to MBBS and BDS courses and the National Board of Examination for the PG programmes.

The 2013 verdict

The 2013 verdict had created a buzz in the apex court corridors as an advocate had posted the outcome on a social networking site in advance. However, Justice Kabir had reportedly said he was not aware of the leak of the judgment.

While Justice Vikramjit Sen (since retired) had shared the views and findings of Justice Kabir against the NEET, Justice Dave had in his dissenting verdict said that the three judges "had no discussion on the subject due to paucity of time". Justice Dave had stressed that this was not the normal practice.

Justice Dave had written in 2013 that “one of the main considerations of having one common entrance test conducted by the Medical Council of India is to check the malaise of money-making business in the admission process by selling their seats for crores, which has been going on for the last so many years in private colleges.”

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 private medical colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET on them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court.

No quota in PG admissions, asserts SC

By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI :
On October 27, 2015 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
NEW DELHI:
On January 12, 2015 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.

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