Ensure increase of MBBS seats at JNIMS, Imphal to 150 as per NMC guidelines: Manipur HC to state
Imphal: Manipur High Court has directed the state government to take all the necessary steps as required by the MCI (now, NMC) guidelines in order to ensure that the number of MBBS seats at JNIMS, Imphal increases to 150 from the academic session 2021-2022.
The PIL had been filed by one concerned who challenged The State of Manipur, the Director of Health and Family Welfare, Manipur and other officials regarding the MBBS seats in the State. The petitioner Singh requested a writ mandamus to direct the respondents (Manipur govt) to increase the MBBS seats in Manipur from the present session 2020-2021.
Division Bench of Justice Kh. Nobin Singh and Justice Mv. Muralidaran listened to the arguments made by Advocate Shri Kh. Tomba and Smt. M. Swarnalata Devi representing the petitioner. Afterward, the court disposed of the case with the direction that the State Govt. shall take necessary steps to ensure that the MBBS seats at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Manipur increases, but from the next session (2021-2022).
The plea, filed by Petitioner Shri Singh in Public Interest, stated that there had been a scarcity of medical professionals in The state of Manipur wherein the ratio between the medical practitioners and the population of the State was very low as compared to that of other States in the country. There were, at the time of the PIL, 100 seats at JNIMS, Imphal and 30 seats at Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). Out of these seats, 15 seats at JNIMS were kept aside for the All India quota.
The petition further stated that as the total number of MBBS seats in Manipur had been only 115, the increase in the number of seats for admission to the MBBS course in the State of Manipur had been the demand of the people. That demand, however, remained unfulfilled, as stated in the petition.
The PIL further mentioned that the Director, JNIMS issued a circular on 25-06-2020 to inform about a proposal for increasing the student's intake to 150. However, more seats demanded better infrastructure which would fulfill the norms set by the apex medical council (now NMC). So, JNIMS Director directed all the heads of the Departments to submit the required infrastructure with adequate dimension as per NMC guidelines on or before 25-07-2020, stated the petition.
It had been mentioned in the petition that the people in the State were very happy to learn about it but no action was taken by the concerned authority before the commencement of the NEET-2020 with the result that the students could not get the benefits of the said circular.
The petition also mentioned a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Manipur. The Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, in that letter informed the Manipur official that the JNIMS was approved under CSS for its up-gradation by increasing 50 seats more for admission to the MBBS course. The excess amount of Rs.2.37 crore, released to the JNIMS, should be adjusted towards the grant-in-aid to be released to the newly approved Medical College at Churachandpur, for which he requested for an action taken report. The Chief Minister of Manipur also uploaded a message in his Facebook account to express his happiness about the approval being granted by the Government of India, mentioned the petition.
However, the petition also marked that although the number of seats for admission to the MBBS course had been increased in respect of many States and Union Territories in the country as mentioned in the PIL, The state of Manipur had not taken appropriate steps for increasing the number of seats for the reason best known to it.
The petitioner stated that the inaction on the part of the State, had deprived the people and in particular, the students who had been aspiring for admission to MBBS course, of their rights to be considered for admission.
The petition talked about an article that came to be published in a local daily called 'Imphal Free Press' by South East Asian Cultural Organisation appealing the State Government to increase the seats for admission to MBBS course. A clear picture of the approval being granted by the Government of India and the inaction on the part of the State Government was stated therein.
The successful and qualified students in the NEET-2020 also made an appeal to the authorities in this regard through the 'Imphal Free Press'. Their demand had been followed by their parents in a local daily called 'Sangai Express'.
The petitioner also learned from reliable sources that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India had so far released a total sum of Rs.56.37 crore during the period from 2017 to 2019 in favor of the JNIMS for its up-gradation, out of which a sum of Rs.2.37 crore being the excess amount would have to be adjusted against the newly approved Medical College as stated before.
Mentioning that an adequate amount had been received from the Government of India, the petition stated that since the State Government had failed to take appropriate action, the apex medical council (now NMC) did not convey its approval.
The inaction on the part of the State respondents had been highly unfair and it compelled the petitioner to file this PIL in the interest of the students who had qualified in the NEET- 2020.
The grievance of the petitioner had been that even though the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India had released a sum of Rs.56.37 crore during the period from 2017 to 2019 in favor of the JNIMS for its up-gradation, the State Government had failed to take appropriate action thereby depriving the students of their rights to be considered for admission to MBBS course for the academic session, 2020- 2021 for no fault of theirs.
The State Government contended that the PIL had not been maintainable for the reason that it had not been filed in terms of the provisions of Rule 10 of the High Court of Manipur (PIL) Rules, 2019 and therefore, it was liable to be dismissed.
The respondents further mentioned that the petitioner was not the aggrieved person and the aggrieved persons were the students who qualified in the NEET-2020.
While discussing the merit of the petition, the respondents argued that the Secretariat, Health Department wrote a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, on November 26, 2020. In the letter, the Secretariat submitted the essential certificate for increasing the seats from 100 to 150 from the academic session, 2021-2022.
The Secretariat also in another letter dated 07-12-2020 requested the Director, JNIMS as well as the Director, RIMS to furnish necessary comments. Following this, JNIMS on December 14, 2020, submitted a report as regards the increase of MBBS seats from 100 to 150 from the academic session, 2021-2022.
The respondents further mentioned that the Directorate of Medical and Health Services, Manipur furnished the information that the increase in the intake capacity of medical students in a Medical College would be possible only getting permission from the National Medical Commission and that an inspection could be expected in the near future.
It had further been stated that the necessary steps had been taken by the State Government but since the minimum requirements as prescribed by the apex medical council (now, NMC) were yet to be fulfilled, the increase of seats from the academic session, 2020-2021 could not be made.
After listening to the arguments the High Court Bench had observed that the matter of increasing or not increasing the number of seats for admission to MBBS course of a Medical College in a State is a matter of policy decision.
In other words, it is the domain of the State Government to take a policy decision, the implementation of which will depend upon the approval of the apex medical council (now, NMC).
The bench also observed that the increase of the student's intake in a Medical College would not be an easy task and it would depend upon the fulfillment of various conditions like adequate infrastructure, sufficient manpower of both teaching and non-teaching, financial capacity, etc. The State Government would definitely need financial assistance from the Government of India for its implementation.
The bench of justice gave some merit to the points made by the counsel appearing for the petitioner that despite an adequate amount being received from the Government of India during the period from 2017-2019 towards up-gradation of the JNIMS, the State Government had failed to take appropriate actions in time and that the inaction on the part of the State respondents had been highly unfair, unreasonable being violative of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
However, the bench also mentioned that the JNIMS still didn't have adequate infrastructure and a mere passing of order would not suffice in the matter. In other words, there was no point in passing any order by the Court that couldn't be actually implemented by the State Government on the ground itself.
The bench further noted that after the approval being conveyed by the Government of India, the State Government had submitted its certificate for increasing the seats from the academic session, 2021-2022.
The bench agreed that the State Government ought to have taken proactive action right from the day when the Director, JNIMS issued a circular regarding the proposal of up-gradation of JNIMS.
However, it further noted that failure on the part of the State Government for having not done so in time couldn't be said to have conferred rights upon the students who had been successful/ qualified in NEET-2020, for admission to MBBS course in the academic session, 2020-2021.
The bench also observed that the people in the State of Manipur ought to have pursued the matter with the State Government vigorously, continuously and relentlessly which they too appeared to have not done.
Finally after considering all the peculiar facts of the PIL the bench observed that it was not a matter where this Court could issue a writ of mandamus directing the State Government to increase the seats for admission to MBBS course from the academic session, 2020-2021 itself, when there had been, admittedly, no adequate infrastructure at the JNIMS and that too, without the prior approval of the apex medical council (now, NMC).
Disposing of the PIL, the bench of Justices directed that the State Government should take appropriate and immediate steps as required by the apex medical council (now, NMC) guidelines in order to ensure that the number of seats for admission to MBBS course at JNIMS, Imphal would increase to 150 from the academic session, 2021-2022.
The bench also mentioned that it was open to the public to get in touch with the State Government in this regard so that the needful would be done by the State Government without fail.
To view the judgment, click on the link below: