Dental College can only be within 10 kms of 100 bedded hospital: Supreme Court upholds DCI rule
New Delhi: Reiterating the opinion given by the Constitutional bench, the Supreme Court division bench recently made it clear that an individual's right to establish an educational institution including medical and dental colleges can be regulated in order to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of maladministration.
Such observation was given by the top court bench comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai while it quashed the Rajasthan High Court order striking down the Union Government notification dated May 21, 2012. In that notification the Dental Council of India had amended Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Dental Council of India (Establishment of New Dental Colleges, Opening of New or Higher Course of Studies or Training and Increase of Admission Capacity in Dental Colleges) Regulations, 2006.
While the previous rule a person could establish a Dental College if they owned or managed a General Hospital of not less than 100 beds, the amendments made it mandatory for an individual to attach its proposed dental college with the government or private medical college, located within 10 kms from the proposed dental college.
The main case concerned Biyani Shikshan Samiti which had sought permission from the Union Government for establishing a dental college from the academic year 2013-2014. Even though already the State had issued the letter of intent, the Dental Education section of Union Health Ministry pointed out certain deficiencies in the proposal and directed the Samiti to cure the same.
In the meantime, existing Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Regulations was substituted by amended Regulation 6(2)(h). Thereafter, even though the Samiti had approached the Union Government for establishing the proposed Dental College, the permission was not granted. Challenging the the Government order, the Samiti approached the Rajasthan High Court. However, as the single judge bench dismissed the plea, the Samiti approached the Division bench of HC and challenged the Government notification amending Regulation 6(2) (h) of the Regulations.
Consequently, the HC division bench, after considering the plea, struck down the notification and directed the Union Government to reconsider the case of the Samiti. Being aggrieved by the HC judgment, the Dental Council of India approached the Supreme Court.
Advocate Gaurav Sharma, the counsel for the DCI argued before the top court that the Dentists Act, 1948 empowers the Council to make Regulations for various aspects concerned with Dental Education, including prescribing requirement of minimum standards. He submitted that the Council, after examining various aspects, had found it necessary to amend Regulation 6(2)(h) of the Regulations. This was done for providing better teaching facilities to the students and for improving the standards of education.
On the other hand, the counsel for the Samiti argued that the High Court had rightly quashed the notification as the notification had nexus with the object sought to be achieved. Referring to the huge shortage of dentists in the country, the counsel argued that the object of legislation should be to encourage establishment of more Dental Colleges rather than providing a requirement which will restrict the number of new Dental Colleges.
Mentioning that there is no medical college within the vicinity of 100 kms o f the place where the Samiti plans of opening the Dental College, the Samiti's counsel contended that the impugned notification, therefore, violates the fundamental right of the Samiti for establishing an educational institute under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.
After taking note of the submissions, the top court bench referred to Several relevant sections of the Dentists Act and especially the previous and amended version of Regulation 6(2) (h). Before the amendment the regulation mentioned, "(h) the applicant owns and manages a General Hospital of not less than 100 beds as per Annexure I with necessary infrastructure facilities including teaching preclinical, paraclinical and allied medical sciences in the campus of the proposed dental college, or the proposed dental college is located in the proximity of a Government Medical College or a Medical College recognised by the Medical Council of India and an undertaking of the said Medical College to the effect that it would facilitate training to the students of the proposed dental college in the subjects of Medicine,Surgery and Allied Medical Sciences has been obtained, or where no Medical College is available in the proximity of the proposed dental college, the proposed dental college gets itself tied up at least for 5 years with a Government General Hospital having a provision of at least 100 beds and located within a radius of 10 K.M. of the proposed dental college and the tieup is extendable till it has its own 100 bedded hospital in the same premises. In such cases, the applicant shall produce evidence that necessary infrastructure facilities including teaching preclinical, paraclinical and allied medical sciences are owned by the proposed dental college itself."
However, as per the amended version, "(h) the applicant shall attach its proposed dental college with a Government/Private Medical College approved/recognised by the Medical Council of India which is located at the distance of 10 kms. by road from the proposed dental college and produce evidence of the said Medical College to the effect that it would facilitate training to the students of the proposed dental college as per syllabus/course curriculum prescribed in respective undergraduate and post graduate dental course regulations as amended from time to time: Provided that not more than one dental college shall be attached with the medical college."
Referring to the change, the top court bench noted, "It could thus be seen that the change that has been brought by the impugned Notification is that, though under the unamended Regulation 6(2)(h), an applicant was entitled to apply if he/she/it owned and managed a General Hospital of not less than 100 beds; by the impugned Notification, it has been made mandatory that the applicant has to attach its proposed Dental College with the Government/Private Medical College, approved/recognized by the Medical Council of India, which is located at a distance of 10 kilometers by road from the proposed Dental College. The distance of 10 kilometers has now been increased to 30 kilometers, vide amendment dated 5th July, 2017."
On the other hand, the Rajasthan High Court had struck down the amendment on the following grounds-
Barsha completed her Master's in English from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at email@example.com.