New Delhi: Through a recent case of a medical college versus the MCI and the government, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the decision by the Union Health Ministry based on MCI recommendations noting that a decision taken by the Union of India on the basis of a recommendation of an expert body regarding the inadequacy of facilities in medical colleges cannot be interfered with lightly.
The court was also critical of the High Court directing the MCI and the Govt to give approval to the said medical college for increased intake for MBBS admissions
The case concerns KMCT Medical College which had applied for enhancement of the intake of students from 100 to 150 for the academic session 2016-17 which was given by the MCI. A renewal for the same was also approved by the council for the academic year 2017-18.
Now, for the academic year 2018-19, the MCI conducted an inspection and based on the deficiencies, the executive committee of the council, decided to recommend not to renew the request for permission to admit 3rd Batch of MBBS students against the enhanced intake of 150 students. The representation by the medical college was made to the hearing committee, which suggested to MCI “may review and make a revised recommendation without any need for compliance verification.”
However, the council once again conducted an inspection on 14th March 2018. The Executive Committee of the MCI considered the Compliance Verification Assessment Report dated 14th March, 2018 along with the previous Assessment Report of the inspection conducted and decided to recommend not to renew the permission for admission against the enhanced intake of 150. Following the recommendation, the Union health ministry directed the College not to admit more than 100 students in the MBBS course for the Academic Session 2018-19.
Challenging the decision, the KMCT medical college approached the State High court. The High Court allowed the Writ Petition and directed MCI to recommend an increase of intake of students from 100 to 150 to-Union of India, within a period of three days from the date of the judgment. There was a further direction to the Union of India to issue the letter of permission within three days thereafter. The Writ Petition was allowed solely on the ground that the MCI ought to have made a recommendation without any further verification. The High Court was of the opinion that the MCI is bound to comply with the direction given by Union of India and that the inspection conducted on 14th March, 2018 was unwarranted. On the basis of the said conclusion, the High Court found the recommendation for disapproval made by the MCI and the order of Govt accepting such recommendation to be illegal and arbitrary.
Challenging the HC Decision, MCI approached the Supreme Court. The contention of the MCI is that there is no fetter on the power of the Medical Council of India to conduct an inspection for the purpose of verifying compliance. It is the further case of the MCI that it is not bound by the observations of the Union of India regarding the manner of compliance verification. In any
event, the observation of Govt was only a suggestion. The MCI also contended that the High Court could not have issued a direction in favour of the College after 31st May, 2018 which was the last date for issuance of a letter of permission.
The Counsel for the College relied upon the inspection conducted on 18th/19th September, 2017 for the year 2018-19 to submit that only two deficiencies were pointed out which, even according to Respondent No.2, have been rectified. It was further argued on behalf of the College that the MCI was bound by the direction issued by UOI which is the final authority for grant of approval. According to the Ld. Senior Counsel for the College, another inspection could not have been conducted in March, 2018.The Ld. Senior Counsel for the College submitted that the endorsement made by the Principal of the College on the inspection report would clearly show that the inspection was not conducted in a proper manner. He contended that the findings of the assessors in the inspection conducted on 14.03.2018 were without any basis.
After going through the submissions, the Apex court quoted various judgments given by itself in this regard. The court first highlighted the out the steps to be followed by all the parties for MCI approval of MBBS courses. The court also recounted the power of the MCI to conduct a second
inspection as considered by the Court in Madha Medical College and Research Institute v. Union of India & Anr.
“There is no restriction in conducting a second inspection limiting it only in respect of the deficiencies ” as held by the SC in I.Q. City Foundation & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.
The court then noted
The conclusion of the High Court that a second inspection ought not to have been conducted by the MCI is contrary to the law laid down by this Court in the judgments referred to supra. We are also not in agreement with the High Court that the MCI was bound to comply with the direction issued by Respondent No.2 (UOI)and that a recommendation ought to have been made by the Appellant without verification.
The court also added that At best, the observation of the Hearing Committee, as affirmed by UOI, is a suggestion. The court then Observed
Remand of the matter to the Appellant -MCI for conducting a review is due to the fact that the physical verification for compliance can be done only by the Appellant – MCI. The manner of verification of the compliance has to be necessarily left to the Appellant -MCI. We are of the view that it is open to the Appellant to choose the manner of compliance verification. Remand by the Government of India to MCI for a review does not place any restriction of verification to only the deficiencies pointed out earlier. MCI is competent to conduct the inspection regarding the compliance of the minimum standards as prescribed by the Regulations as well.
The court then passed the following order
We do not deem it necessary to deal with the submission made on behalf of the College regarding the inspection not being properly conducted. This Court has repeatedly said that a decision taken by the Union of India on the basis of a recommendation of an expert body regarding the inadequacy of facilities in medical colleges cannot be interfered with lightly. Interference is permissible only when the colleges demonstrate jurisdictional errors, ex facie perversity or mala fide.
As no case is made out by the College for interference with the inspection report, we decline the request of Mr. Sibal for remand of the matter to the High Court.