NEW DELHI: The
led Supreme Court-appointed committee has
reportedly vetoed a government move to cap the age of
students and the number of attempts they are allowed to
clear National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
The three member committee, headed by former chief
justice Lodha, said it was in favour of striking down
the government’s eligibility criteria because there is a
“dearth of doctors in the country”.
In January, the government issued an executive order
limiting to three the number of times a student could
take the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
It also capped the eligibility age of candidates at 25 –
both decisions made on the recommendations of the
Medical Council of India (MCI). Within days, the
government’s order faced legal challenge from students.
The Lodha panel made its recommendations on February 28.
The Supreme Court will take up the
panel’s suggestions on March 20. Should the court accept
those, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE),
which conducts NEET, might have to rework the
applications process that closed on March 1.
Earlier, an eligible student above the age of 17 could
apply, and there was no cap on the number of attempts.
The Lodha panel’s letter to the government did not make
any suggestions on an upper age limit or the number of
times a student could be take the exam.
Last May, as part of its efforts to clean
up medical education in India, the top court had asked
Justice Lodha to head an oversight committee for the
NEET : MCI defends its new
age bar limits
By Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : On February 23 the Medical Council of
India (MCI) expressed its strong defence for the upper
age limit of 25 years with a maximum three attempts for
admission to MBBS/BDS course, saying that the study of
medicine required “sharp young minds”.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the MCI
said: “It is unfair to make a young student giving the
NEET examination for the first time to compete with a
much older student who had more time to prepare and had
already given several attempts.”
The affidavit has been filed in response to a petition
challenging the age criteria for the National
Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate
medical and dental courses.
The regulation that came into force from this year also
restricted the maximum attempts at three. Prior to
January 31, 2017, there was no upper age limit to
compete for admission to these courses through NEET.
This year’s application forms are already out and the
examination is scheduled to be held on May 7.
The MCI said: “Age is a major factor in determining the
capability of the student to learn…the study of medicine
requires rigorous study and training imparted during the
MBBS/BDS course and, therefore, sharp young minds are
required to absorb the same.”
Earlier this month, the top court had issued notice to
the MCI and the Centre on a petition filed by Sabyasachi
Rai who contended that since the authorities had already
fixed three attempts for a medical aspirant, there was
no need to fix an upper age limit at 25 years.
No faculty, no facilities
at new medical colleges
NEW DELHI : Empty intensive care
units (ICUs), no faculty, locked operation theatres (OTs),
and under-construction departments and buildings. This
is what awaits a fresh batch of students in at least
five out of 57 medical colleges permitted by the
Supreme-Court appointed oversight committee to admit
MBBS students in 2016-17.
In a report published by the Hindustan
Times on September 28, credited to Jeevan Prakash
Sharma, the newspaper said that its reporter's visit to
five private medical colleges, all located 50 km to 100
km from Delhi, found some shocking realities.
Here is the HT report, verbatim : "KM Medical
College and Hospital, Mathura and Venkateshwara
Institute of Medical Sciences, Gajraula were virtually
locked with no patients in wards and non-functional OT
and ICU. HT also found that patients with headache and
stomach ache were admitted in a couple of wards in
While MCI norms mandate 60% bed occupancy in any
college’s hospital to admit first batch of 150 students,
HT found that only 10% to 20% beds were occupied by
patients in NC Medical College and Hospital, Panipat,
World College on Medical Science and Research, Jhajhar
and Rama Medical College and Research Centre, Hapur.
KM Medical College denied that it lacks facilities,
Rama College didn’t respond while others say they will
work to improve infrastructure.
Former chief justice of India RM Lodha, who heads the
oversight committee said the panel directed MCI to carry
out fresh inspection of all such colleges which MCI had
rejected, but that was not done, leaving OC with no
option but to find some method to verify the compliances
reported to have been done by the applicants.
“With stringent conditions imposed by the OC, it is
fairly reasonable to assume that all these colleges will
have no deficiency when the course commences and the
students would be able to pursue their medical
education,” he said.
MCI ignored the OC order on the ground that out of
218 colleges, it rejected 129 after inspecting them
twice so there is no reason to inspect them afresh.
After receiving complaints from a section of senior
medical practitioners that some medical colleges
approved by the SC-appointed oversight committee lacked
infrastructure to train students, HT conducted an
independent investigation in five colleges. Before that,
HT also obtained the MCI’s inspection report and
colleges’ affidavit for compliance (filed between June
15 to June 22) through an application under RTI.
HT found the NC medical college wellmaintained but
with hardly 2025 patients. The reporter found
Venkateshwara college virtually locked and apart from 6
patients in KM college’s emergency unit, the rest —
operation theatre, intensive care unit, IPD — were
either locked or empty.
This is what prevails in the five colleges:
Rama Medical C0llege and Research Centre, Hapur, Uttar
MCI assessment report: The report (March 18 & 19 and
April 19, 2016) say the college had a 29.41% shortage of
resident doctors and senior residents were staying away
from the hostel. The outpatient department attendance
was inflated. Patients had vague complaints and didn’t
Rama college’s affidavit for compliance: Number of
residents are as per MCI norms and OPD has sufficient
patients. The patients admitted were genuine on the day
HT’s Investigation: HT visited the Rama Medical
College on September 17, between 1:30pm to 3pm and found
bed occupancy between 10% to 20%. The private ward was
locked and residents’ doctors’ rooms were either empty
or locked. There was one patient in the second –floor
College response: The college didn’t respond to HT’s
KM Medical College and Hospital, Mathura, UP
MCI assessment report: The report (December 18 & 19,
2015 and May 6, 2016) highlighted 86.15% deficiency of
faculty, 89.13% shortage of resident doctors ,0% bed
occupancy and inadequate patients and consultants.
KM College affidavit for compliance: The college
countered MCI’ s assessment report saying deficiency of
faculty and residents was not more than 5% and bed
occupancy was more than 60%. OPD attendance was more
HT’ s investigation: HT reached KM College on
September 20,2016 between 1PM to 3PM. Situated in a
sparsely-populated area, the hospital lacked
infrastructure. Except 6 patients in the emergency,
there st—operation theatre(OT), intensive care unit( I
CU ), in-patient department (IPD) — were either locked
College response: “I don’t agree with your
inspection as I know I fulfil all the norms. Whatever
shortcomings are there, we will take step to rectify ,”
said Kishan Chaudhary, chairman.
NC Medical College and Hospital, Panipat
MCI assessment report: The December 9 & 10, 2015
report said deficiency of faculty is 84.61%, shortage of
resident doctors 89.13% OPD attendance on the day of
assessment was nil and bed occupancy was zero.
NC College affidavit for compliance: The college
denied MCI assessment and said it has adequate faculty
and residents, OP Dis operational with daily 650
attendance and the bed occupancy is 69%.
HT Investigation: HT visited the college on
September 21 around 11am and found the hospital
well-maintained. However, there were hardly 20-25
patients admitted. Both emergency OT and minor OT were
locked and six patients were admitted in the emergency
ward. There were 50 to 80 patients in OPDs.
College response: “There is no shortage of doctors.
Still, we are trying to live up to the expectations of
the OC,” said the college spokesperson.
World College on Medical Science and Research, Jhajhar
MCI assessment report: The report, dated January 12
and 13 2016, points out deficiency of faculty and
residents 93.85% and 97.83% respectively. There was no
medical superintendent in the hospital and residents
were not staying in the campus. Bed occupancy was 1%.
World College affidavit for compliance: Rejecting
MCI’s report, the college claims full strength of
faculty and residents. “Medical superintendent was
appointed and residents are in hostel. Bed occupancy is
more than 60%.
HT Investigation: HT visited the hospital on
September 21 (between 2:30 to 4pm) and found it in good
condition. However, emergency ward was empty and
hospital’s bed occupancy was between 10% to 20%.
College response: “There is a scope of improvement
in bed occupancy which we will improve,” said Narendra
Venkateshwara Institute of Medical Science, Gajraula
MCI assessment report: The MCI assessment report,
dated December 18 & 19, 2016, says the hospital was
locked. The deficiency of faculty and residents was
98.46% and 100% respectively. Bed occupancy and O PD
attendance was zero.
Venkateshwara College affidavit: The college said
that due to students’ agitation on December 14, 2015 the
college campus was closed and students, teachers and
other staff were asked to vacate the campus.
HT Investigation: When HT visited the hospital on
September 22, 2016 between 1:30pm to 3pm, it was
virtually locked. When this correspondent interacted
with a nursing staff, she informed that none of the
patients admitted in the gynacology ward had any health
complications. Some of them had mild ailments like
stomachache or headache. OT was empty and ICU, ICCU,
NICU, PICU were locked.
College response: “We are aware of shortcomings and
are in the process of acquiring all the facilities,”
said Prof Madhusudan, vice chancellor, Venkateshwara
SC panel in MCI driver's
seat, takes decisions
By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court appointed Lodha
Oversight Committee (OC) has settled itself in the MCI's driver's seat
and has, in fact, taken decisions that may embarrass the
MCI's governing body.
On August 13 the three member Justice R M
Lodha-led committee overturned the Council’s decision
denying permission to start/establish 86 new medical
colleges for the current academic session starting
The panel, reviewing MCI’s rejections, granted
permission to 26 new colleges out of the 86 rejected
earlier and promptly sent its recommendations to the
Health Ministry, paving the way for the establishment of
these colleges, which will be added to the existing 400.
The panel has
given private medical colleges the permission to teach
courses which they had been forbidden from running after being
found to be lacking the required infrastructure.
While the MCI denied permission to
start/establish new colleges on the basis of MCI's team
inspection which found the faculty and infrastructure
lacking in the colleges the Lodha panel overturned the
MCI decision on the basis of colleges' claims on their
websites and affidavits.
The panel has asked colleges to
submit an undertaking to MCI that they would comply with
all the norms and won't remain deficient when the new
session starts on September 30. The panel has also
reserved the right to inspect these colleges before or
after September 30 and if any non-compliance is found,
it can withdraw the permission. “If the committee is not
satisfied while conducting its own inspection, it
reserves the right to debar new colleges from admissions
for the subsequent two years,“ an MCI official said.
The 26 new colleges allowed to start enrolment will also
have to deposit bank guarantees worth Rs 2 crore each to
Among the newly approved institutions are Ananta
Institute of Medical Sciences, Rajasthan; NIMRA
Institute of Medical Sciences, Andhra Pradesh; Saraswati
Medical College, UP; Sri Sakshi Medical College, Madhya
Pradesh; World College of Medical Sciences, Jhajjar,
Haryana; Kerala Medical College; NC Medical College,
Panipat (Haryana); Local Medical College, Saharanpur and
Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow.
After the MCI rejected 86 applications, the Lodha panel
(OC) comprising ex-CJI Lodha, former CAG
Vinod Rai and renowned liver expert SK Sarin opened a
fresh window from June 15 to 22 asking applicants to
apply afresh and show compliance.
“The OC received 39 applications from institutions
promising compliance by September 30 when the new
session starts. The panel after considering these cases
has granted a go-ahead in 26 cases,” a Health Ministry
Lodha report relied on colleges' website info
According to a Times of India report the
Lodha committee granted conditional approval to 26 new
medical colleges based on information and “snapshots“
uploaded on college websites being verified by technical
“In an MBBS institute in Chhattisgarh, it appeared
that teaching faculty were just called for
assessment...In another hospital, many patients who were
not genuine and did not require admission were admitted
in wards,“ an MCI official said, pointing to instances
in the report that are reminiscent of the Sanjay
Dutt-starrer Bollywood hit.
“Availability of faculty on the website was
considered supportive evidence from the applicant
colleges before being considered favourably for
approval. Snapshots of infrastructure from the websites
wherever available were also obtained and kept on
record,“ the Lodha report, reviewed by TOI, said.
The report also noted that the “position of faculty
was independently verified through the technical
consultant with reference to websites of the respective
medical colleges too, by June 16, 2016“.
But MCI teams, which inspected the sites, found that
some hospitals were “under construction“ while some
others resisted or “would not allow inspection“. For
instance, a college in UP did not permit inspection on
the ground of holidays for Holi and Good Friday. In some
cases, the bed occupancy was as low as 12%, ICUs and
OPDs were found locked and non-operational, the MCI's
inspection report said.
However, the panel, headed by ex-Chief Justice of
India R M Lodha, maintained it took a “considered view“
that was “in best interest of medical education“.
Speaking to TOI, Justice Lodha said, “We received over
100 complaints alleging irregularities in MCI
inspection. Some said the inspections were carried out
during holidays, while many alleged discrimination
between government and private medical colleges.“
He said the oversight committee had asked the MCI to
re-inspect the applicant sites. “However, the MCI did
not follow our directive and this itself is violation of
the SC order,“ Lodha said, adding that the committee was
left with no other means but the college websites to
verify compliance. It hired two independent consultants
-- one each from Lucknow and Delhi -- to verify the
information given by colleges.
“We do not want to compromise on quality of medical
education and, therefore, we have attached conditions to
the approvals. We have told the colleges that by
September 30 everything should fall in place and we
reserve the right to inspect the facilities and if any
deficiency is found they will be barred for two
simultaneous years,“ Lodha said.
SC bars pvt colleges/assn to hold admission test
By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI : Giving another pungent blow to private
college owners and their associations the Supreme Court
barred them from holding any kind of admission test for MBBS or BDS
seats. The bar will also be applicable on the deemed
universities, the court said.
The bench said "it is clarified that no
examination shall be permitted to be
held for admission to MBBS or BDS studies by any private
college or association or any private/deemed
Continuing daily hearing in
Sankalp Charitable Trust case
on May 6 2016 the three-judge bench of Justices Anil R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A.K. Goel said the
issue with regard to students who had appeared or who
are due to appear in examinations conducted by the
states in accordance with local laws, shall be decided
after hearing the Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar on May
The bench said students who had appeared for Neet
Phase-I on May 2 would not be permitted to take Neet
Phase-II. Those who could not appear for the phase-I
test may appear for the second phase on July 24.
The court is expected to allow Tamil Nadu to admit
students on the basis of marks in the higher secondary
exam. Students of states like Telangana, Andhra Pra-desh,
Kerala, Maharas-htra and Gujarat maybe allowed to admit
students on the basis of local CETs.
Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, submitted that if private
colleges are not allowed to make admissions through
their own CET or through the association of private
medical colleges, they were not obliged to surrender 50
per cent of their seats to the government quota and that
this would result in a piquant situation.
Mr Ranjit Kumar informed the court that the Centre had convened
a meeting this weekend with all the stake-holders. He
would inform the court on Monday of the outcome of the
meeting so that it can pass appropriate orders.
“We want NEET. On the legal side, we supported it. But I
have to take instructions if states can be allowed to
hold their tests this year or not. We want to resolve
the issue after discussing with them,” he said.
The order came as a window of hope for states opposing
NEET. The states contended that their students were not
prepared to take the test as some of them studied in the
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 --
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 day
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
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
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
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
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
“The NEET regulations are restored and MCI can conduct
the examinations pending the fresh judgement,” the order
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
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,
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 -
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
"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
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
Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations of the
Medical Council of India, 2000 were
binding and state governments could not make any rule in
violation of the regulations.
The state, the apex court said, overstepped its
jurisdiction by making a law earmarking 40% of total
seats available to the state quota for its medical
officers who were to get admission on the basis of their
seniority, without appearing in the entrance
Delivering its judgement in
Sudhir N. & ors. versus State of
Kerala & ors.
on January 12 the
bench said : "Regulation 9 (of MCI) is, in our opinion, a complete
code by itself inasmuch as it prescribes the basis for
determining the eligibility of the candidates including
the method to be adopted for determining the inter se
merit which remains the only basis for such admissions.
To the performance in the entrance test can be added
weightage on account of rural service rendered by the
candidates in the manner and to the extent indicated,"
The court said the method, however, was given a go-by by
the impugned legislation when it provided that
in-service candidates seeking admission in the quota
shall be granted such admission not on the basis of one
of the methodologies but on the basis of seniority of
"When the maximum marks to be obtained in the entrance
test for admission to the institutions for higher
education including higher medical education are fixed,
the state cannot adversely affect the standards laid
down by the Union government. It was held that it is for
the MCI to determine reservation to be made for SC/ST
and OBC candidates and lowering the qualifying marks in
their favour," it said.
Upholding the order, the apex court, however, objected
to the observation made by the High Court in which it said that
seniority of in-service candidates should be considered
while preparing merit list.
"A meritorious in-service candidate cannot be denied
admission only because he has an eligible senior above
him though lower in merit. It is now fairly well settled
that merit and merit alone can be the basis of
admission. Their merit cannot be overlooked only to
promote seniority which has no place in the scheme of
MCI regulations," it said.