The hon’ble Supreme Court yesterday considered a batch of petitions filed against MCI and central government over inspections and slammed both the MCI and the Central government for having delay in inspections. In a case titled Royal Medical Trust (Regd) and Anothers vs Union of India and Anothers, the Supreme Court considered a batch of petitions that arose out of communications issued by the Central Government recommending disapproval of applications preferred in respect of Medical Colleges of the applicants for the academic year 2014-2015. In these petitions, after conducting inspection of the respective Medical Colleges the Medical Council of India (MCI for short) had found infirmities or inadequacies in the infrastructure, facilities and faculty. The respective applicants then claimed that they had rectified the shortcomings and asked for compliance verification. But the Central Government and/or the MCI refused to undertake any fresh inspection for verification, for want of adequate time.
Considering all the points raised by both the parties, the bench of Justices A R Dave, Vikramjit Sen and U U Lalit said “The MCI and the Central Government have been vested with monitoring powers under Section 10A and the Regulations. It is expected of these authorities to discharge their functions well within the statutory confines as well as in conformity with the Schedule to the Regulations. If there is inaction on their part or non-observance of the time Schedule, it is bound to have adverse effect on all concerned,” the Court said.
The Court also reminded the MCI and the Central Government that the Schedule giving various stages and time limits must accommodate every possible eventuality and at the same time must comply with the requirements of observance of natural justice at various levels.
In the myriad of application that the supreme court considered, it divided the said applications into three categories namely:-
(I) Cases where new Medical Colleges were sought to be established for the first time and where such colleges were seeking appropriate permission to admit students to the first year of MBBS course
(II) Cases where the existing approved Medical Colleges were seeking increase in intake of seats for admissions of students to the first year of MBBS Course
(IV) Medical Colleges seeking renewal of permission, who had already received permission in the previous year(s) either for establishing new Medical College or for increasing intake capacity of the existing Medical College. In this category of cases, the renewal for subsequent batches and for permission to admit students to the first year course was sought.
In these cases, during inspections conducted by the MCI in respect of Medical Colleges falling in Categories I, II and III certain deficiencies were found which were then communicated to the concerned applicants. According to the concerned applicants, either the deficiencies were wrongly noted or they had since then been rectified and compliance was reported. Though compliance was so reported and the Central Government / the MCI were asked to have inspection to verify such compliance, the Central Government communicated its disapproval without taking any steps to assess or verify the compliance report.
After due consideration, on the question of relief to be afforded in the petitions, the Court said:
“Since the deadline for making admissions was over and there was no formal permission to establish new Medical Colleges or to increase the intake capacity in respect of existing Colleges, applicants in Categories I and II were not considered fit for grant of any interim relief. For the same reasons no relief can be granted to them.
The relief granted in respect of those falling in Category III, vide orders dated 18.09.2014 and 25.09.2014 is made absolute in terms of those orders and the writ petitions and appeals arising from special leave petitions in Category III stand disposed of in such terms.”
The court however said that the requirements of reasonable opportunity must be afforded not only at the initial stage but also in cases of subsequent renewal and further that the opportunity must be afforded at both the stages namely by the MCI as well as by the Central Government, the Schedule under the Regulations must accommodate and provide for adequate time limits to take care of such eventualities.
The Court however noted that the Schedule which was brought in force by way of an amendment dated 21.09.2012 does not provide for such stage wise consideration. “ It simply gives four stages without indicating any time limits to ensure grant of such reasonable opportunity in case the decisions of disapproval are taken against the applicants. It also does not speak of any compliance verification,” the Court said.
You can find the entire judgement here