PG medical seats for sale: HC orders enquiry into alleged DME, medical colleges nexus
Chennai: "It is very important to identify this malice that is afflicting PG Medical admissions in post-graduate medical courses. At the end of the day, money, contacts and power should not be the determining factor for getting a seat in a post-graduate course and it should be merit and merit alone which should form the basis for allotting a seat." This was the observation recently made by the Madras High Court on the plea of the PG medical aspirants who alleged that their admission was compromised for financial gains by certain medical colleges.
The Madras High Court has ordered an inquiry to identify the credibility of admission procedure in post-graduate medical (PG Medical) courses, and to check the probable conspiracy between the officials of the Directorate of Medical Education (DME) and the self-financing medical colleges.
The direction came following a batch of three petitions, filed by PG medical aspirants, seeking various directions in connection to their admissions at medical colleges.
The Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh while examining these petitions observed that private colleges had granted admissions to undeserving candidates, who otherwise would not have secured a seat through regular counselling, that too for some important clinical courses.
Moreover, it appeared to the court that these admissions were granted on the basis of a final list that was handed over to them by the Selection Committee of the Directorate of Medical Education.
The court through a common order directed the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, to immediately allot the matter to the CB-CID, which shall consist of a team headed by an officer, not below the rank of an Assistant Commissioner.
The bench remarked, "There is something more than what meets the eye when it comes to filling up seats in private medical colleges other than by way of counseling. Obviously, these are all candidates who are capable of pulling strings and already had a clear understanding with the concerned college. When the push comes to the shove, the prior understanding translated itself into a final action and the candidates got admitted into the course. Every year some mechanism is devised by the self-financing colleges to fill up vacancies in this manner."
This came in light of the fact that in one of the cases, the petitioner had submitted that she was allotted MD Micro Biology course during the first round of counseling under the Management Quota in PSG Institute of Medical Science and Research, Coimbatore.
The petitioner submitted that the allotment order itself provided for up-gradation of better choice during further counseling however, the mop-up counseling was not conducted and the College went ahead and allotted the seat in favor of a candidate who had secured lesser marks than her.
Therefore, the petitioner sought a direction upon the authorities to fill up the PG Medical seats declared as vacant as per the seat matrix published by the Directorate of Medical Education, only by conducting Mop Up counseling for management seats 2020.
Responding to the contentions, the authorities submitted that there were totally 103 seats available under the Management Quota and since there was no time to conduct the counseling, the selection committee wrote a letter to the self-financing colleges to fill up the vacancies from the list forwarded to them.
Accordingly, the institute also submitted that it was not able to allot the seat to the Petitioner since they had to only go by the list issued by the Selection Committee and if the Petitioner was allotted a seat, the seat occupied by her in MD Micro Biology would have fallen vacant.
At this point, the court inquired as to why the College had not approached the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time to conduct the mop-up counseling for the Management Quota.
The College informed that the Top Court had already extended the time from 31.05.2020 to 31.07.2020 and thereafter, to 31.08.2020, and therefore, it was thought that the Hon'ble Supreme Court may not grant any further extension of time to conduct the mop-up counseling.
Meanwhile, in another case, the Karpaga Vinayakka Medical College, Chengalpattu, refused to admit the petitioner in spite of being allotted a seat in the said college after he failed to pay the exorbitant fees. It was submitted that the petitioner was selected under the Government Quota for the MS Orthopedics course at the Respondent college.
On 30.08.2020, he paid a sum of Rs.30,000/- by way of Demand Draft before the selection committee. When he approached the College and produced the provisional allotment order on the next day, the College demanded a sum of Rs. 35,00,000/- as against Rs.3,00,000/- which was the actual fee. When this was questioned by the petitioner, the College refused to admit him, and admission was given in favor of another candidate, who had obtained lesser marks.
The Court observed that the Respondent college ought to have informed the Selection Committee about the non-payment of the fees by the Petitioner and thereafter, the Selection Committee should have identified the seat as a stray vacancy and only then the said seat could have been filled.
Subsequently, the court directed the petitioner to pay the fees fixed by the fee fixation committee to the Respondent medical college. On such payment, the institute should admit the Petitioner in the MS Orthopedics course. It further directed the medical college to refund the entire amount received from the candidate who was admitted in the place of the Petitioner.
While for the plea pertinent to PSG Institute, the court granted liberty to the Petitioner to give up her seat in PSG Institute of Medical Science and Research in MD Micro Biology, without the imposition of any penalty, as contemplated under Clause 21(c) of the Prospectus. Further, it ordered that the petitioner will be entitled to once again participate during selection in the next academic year for post-graduate courses.
The bench cautioned, "This liberty granted by this Court cannot be taken as a precedent in any other case and it is confined to the peculiar facts of the present case."
The court while passing the orders remarked that the manner in which admissions are being granted to unmeritorious candidates gives the impression that there is something beyond merit that can secure admission to a candidate and which is the purchasing power. It observed,
"If this situation is allowed to be continued year after year and no one takes any steps to redress the same, it results in injustice to meritorious candidates. Obviously, these seats carry a lot of monetary value to it and a student with the necessary contact and financial wherewithal can purchase this seat and undergo the course along with students who had toiled and burnt the midnight oil to secure these seats on pure merit."
The bench pointed out the serious consequences of filling up a medical seat vacancy with an unmeritorious candidate since it directly involves the life of a person. It remarked,
"A student who secures a seat in this manner is a bigger danger to this society. After completing the course, by hook or crook, they will be handling the lives of innocent people. Where the means adopted is iniquitous, then obviously the end will also suffer from its consequences. Such a candidate can only be a fruit from a poisonous tree."
"This is an area that is safely guarded to ensure that merit is not compromised by replacing it with mediocrity. This prelude became necessary since this Court is now going to deal with a scenario where merit has been given a go-by and self-financing colleges have been allowed to fill up certain important clinical seats with candidates who were right down under the ladder of the merit list and thereby mediocrity gained an upper hand by using the loopholes under the prevailing system," the bench added.
Expressing serious concern over the manner in which admissions are being granted in post-graduate medical courses, especially in self-financing colleges, the court noted;
"It is very important to identify this malice that is afflicting admissions in post-graduate medical courses. At the end of the day, money, contacts and power should not be the determining factor for getting a seat in a post-graduate course and it should be merit and merit alone which should form the basis for allotting a seat to a candidate in post-graduate courses and super-specialties."
Though, the Advocate General had submitted on behalf of the Directorate that it was facing an uphill task in filling up the seats in the various post graduate courses as many candidates who were allotted seats during the stages of 1st, 2nd and mop-up counselling were not able to report for admission in the Government Quota seats since these candidates were posted/engaged at various hospitals to offer treatment for COVID-19 afflicted patients. That apart, the restriction imposed on the movement to various places also prevented these candidates from joining the courses on time
The court rejected the claim and noted;
"There is an attempt to put every blame on the Corona Virus even where it did not have a direct nexus to the action performed by an institution or any instrumentality of the State. There cannot be a greater sin than to make use of the present situation and gain an advantage for one's own self-aggrandize"
It finally ordered an inquiry wherein, it has to be inspected whether there was any conspiracy between the officials of the Directorate of Medical Education and the self-financing colleges in filling up the stray vacancies; the amount received from each candidate who was admitted by the self-financing colleges on August 31, 2020 (deadline for conducting the mop-up counseling for Management Quota); any other matter that unfolds during investigation in this regard.