HC slams NMC for wrongly denying increase of MBBS seats on basis of false and erroneous facts, orders probe
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court bench recently slammed the National Medical Commission (NMC) for wrongfully denying Tamil Nadu based Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital to increase MBBS seats from 150 to 250 seats.While NMC had claimed that the college had huge deficiencies including the shortage of faculty, the HC bench comprising of Justice Sanjeev Narula referred to...
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court bench recently slammed the National Medical Commission (NMC) for wrongfully denying Tamil Nadu based Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital to increase MBBS seats from 150 to 250 seats.
While NMC had claimed that the college had huge deficiencies including the shortage of faculty, the HC bench comprising of Justice Sanjeev Narula referred to the NMC's surprise inspection report to hold the college eligible for the increase of seats.
Slamming the Apex medical commission for its "deliberate effort" to decline the prayer of the college, the HC bench also referred to the growing demand of qualified doctors in India and noted, "Before parting, it must be noted that to meet the rising need of more qualified doctors to serve country's population, augmentation of medical infrastructure is crucial, and hence, role of regulatory bodies like NMC is unquestionably significant. The authorisation procedure must indeed be strictly adhered to ensure that there is no decline in the quality of medical education. However, at the same time, deserving colleges must not be unfairly denied the opportunity to contribute in enhancing the strength of medical professionals."
Further questioning the attitude of NMC, the bench has ordered and inquiry, and directed the NMC Chairperson to probe the reason why the Commission submitted an affidavit before the court with inaccurate facts and take appropriate action.
The matter concerned Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital affiliated with Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai. The college had been granted permission for 150 MBBS seats. later, the college had applied to the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) of National Medical Commission (NMC) seeking an increase of seats to 250 from the academic year 2021-2022. However, MARB recommended only increase of 50 seats.
Dissatisfied with the partial acceptance, the college approached the First Appeal Committee, which dismissed the appeal on February 21, 2022. The committee not only disagreed with MARB, but also declined the request for increase of seats altogether. Resultantly, the original sanctioned intake of 150 MBBS seats was restored as the Committee observed that there were certain deficiencies in teaching faculty and occupancy of hospital beds. Consequently, the second appeal was also dismissed.
Challenging the NMC decision, the college approached the Delhi High Court and sought a direction to the Apex medical body for issuing a letter of approval for 250 MBBS seats at the medical college.
Previously, while considering the matter, the HC bench had provided an interim relief to the college and had allowed it to admit 200 students in the NEET UG Counselling 2021-2022.
Meanwhile, for the academic year 2022-2023, the college applied before NMC in April 2022 for increasing the seats from 150 to 250 and consequently, NMC conducted a surprise inspection in August and a report was also prepared, where it had been mentioned that the college was found to be compliant with existing norms in all aspects, except for a minor deficiency in teaching staff.
Although the college urged NMC for increasing the seats from 150 to 250, no final decision was taken in this regard and therefore the college approached the Court again. It was argued by the counsel for the college that the institute was fully equipped for increasing up to 250 MBBS seats and pointed out that if NMC did not grant the permission for the ongoing counselling process, it would be colossal waste of resources. Further the counsel for the college claimed that NMC was deliberately denying the college the benefit.
Since the admission schedule was running our, the Court, while taking note of the minor deficiency (0.49%) in teaching staff of the college, had asked the NMC to submit an affidavit and explain the criteria for relaxation of deficiencies up to 5% in private medical colleges.
Responding to this, NMC acknowledged and confirmed that relaxation of up to 5% on faculty strength is applicable to the concerned college. However, it was further contended by the top medical body that if the existing facilities available with Petitioner college as per the MARB inspection report are to be considered for 250 seats, faculty deficiency would substantially increase from 0.49% to 6.9%, which is beyond the permissible limit of 5%.
Considering the NMC report, the court noted that the Apex medical body had alleged 6.9% deficiency in teaching staff/ faculty, and contended that for 250 seats, faculty strength should be 202 seats.
Perusing the inspection report and taking note of the 5% relaxation awarded to the colleges, the HC bench observed, "As per the inspection report, only deficiency of 1 associate professor in the orthopaedic department was present in Petitioner college. However, when the said report is applied for 250 seats, it is contended that Petitioner college is lacking 14 faculty members. Nonetheless, as against required strength of 202, since Petitioner college would be entitled to the benefit of relaxation norms, it is required to have minimum strength of 192 teachers [i.e., 202 - 10 (5% of 202 seats)]."
The court noted that NMC had recorded a shortage of three faculty members in the Dentistry department. At this outset, the court referred to the Minimum Requirements for Annual MBBS Admissions Regulations, 2020, which clarifies that a separate dentistry department is not required if a dental college is available in same campus/city and run by the same management.
Referring to the Inspection Report, the court pointed out that the college a separate and functional dental college situated within its campus. Therefore, the court observed, "The shortage of teachers in dentistry department being reckoned as deficiency is a flawed conclusion. The alleged deficiency of 3 faculty members must therefore be reduced from the figure of 14. In fact, the Court perceives NMC's stance of including the dental faculty towards total deficiencies as an attempt to mislead the Court."
Further, the bench dismissed the NMC's argument regarding shortage of one faculty in the Physiology department and observed, "NMC's finding in respect of shortage in physiology department has no lawful footing, and cannot be countenanced."
In respect of the Microbiology department, the court said, "The said department is short of 1 associate professor, but the same is compensated by extra professors and as such, there is no deficiency."
Similarly, the court also dismissed the faculty shortage in General Surgery department as it noted, "Nevertheless, excess of professors in general surgery compensates deficiency of 1 assistant professor, and therefore, no deficiency as per norms is made out."
Referring to this data, the bench opined that the deficiencies in teaching staff of Petitioner college are far less than what NMC has portrayed, and is well within permissible/ relaxation limit of 5%.
Slamming NMC's decision, the court mentioned in the judgment,
"NMC's assertions, based on MARB's (expert assessors) findings, of deficiency of 6.9% in faculty, is demonstrably misconceived and erroneous. Petitioner college fulfils the criteria for increasing its admission capacity in MBBS course from 150 to 250, as per applicable norms."
"From the foregoing discussion, it emerges that there is a deliberate effort on the part of NMC to somehow justify its entirely untenable / unsustainable and ex-facie arbitrary action of artificially raising deficiency in faculty to 6.9%, which falls outside relaxation limit (i.e., 5%). Respondents' stand is not only incorrect, and flawed, but also depicts arbitrariness on their part," further read the order.
Therefore, confirming its earlier interim order, the bench held the concerned college entitled to admit 200 MBBS students for the academic year 2021-2022. Regarding the college's prayer for increase of seats from 150 to 250, the bench noted,
"As regards 2022-23, since the decision of NMC to deny increase in seats is ex-facie based on irrelevant considerations and in ignorance of relevant materials, it is a fit case for this Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 and issue a writ of mandamus compelling performance of the discretion conferred upon NMC in order to prevent injustice to Petitioners. Since no other impediment has been brought forth, in the facts of the case, directing NMC/ MARB to reinspect Petitioner college is not required as it fulfils all parameters established under extant regulations."
With this observation, the bench allowed the college's appeal for increase of seats and mentioned in the order,
"Respondents are directed to permit Petitioner college to take admissions of 250 students in the ongoing counselling of NEET UG 2022 and for that purpose, Respondents shall forthwith issue necessary directions and intimate the order to competent authority/ body of the Government of Tamil Nadu to add 250 seats in its seat matrix."
Slamming the NMC for its questionable attitude, the HC bench further observed,
"In the present case, NMC through its acts of omission and commission, has not only violated the norms laid down under relevant regulations, but also completely disregarded the legislative and policy decisions of the Government by issuance of afore-noted impugned orders. Although Mr. Singhdev has very ably assisted the Court, the attitude exhibited by NMC remains highly questionable. Instead of assisting the Court, the additional affidavit filed pursuant to directions of the Court has presented non-existent deficiencies, based on false and erroneous facts, in an attempt to deny Petitioner college, the relief it is entitled to, under law."
Issuing orders for an inquiry, the bench further added in the judgment,
"NMC must not lose sight of its responsibility to maintain accuracy of facts/ information presented to the Court. Having regard to the circumstances noted above, Chairperson of NMC is directed to enquire into the circumstances that have resulted in filing of the additional affidavit with inaccurate facts, and take appropriate action."
To read the order, click on the link below:
Barsha completed her MA 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.