22 April 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Noting that the country has been staunchly promoting the Ayurvedic system of medicine after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court has said that it is the need of the hour to encourage institutes which possess the necessary infrastructure for running ayurvedic medical colleges, to contribute to the bigger goal of strengthening the infrastructure of this system of medicine...
Noting that the country has been staunchly promoting the Ayurvedic system of medicine after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court has said that it is the need of the hour to encourage institutes which possess the necessary infrastructure for running ayurvedic medical colleges, to contribute to the bigger goal of strengthening the infrastructure of this system of medicine in the country.
Justice Rekha Palli made the observation while allowing a plea filed Sumandeep Vidyapeeth, an Institute Deemed to be University, desirous of starting a new Ayurvedic Medical College with 100 seats in the undergraduate (UG) programme Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery for the Academic Year 2021- 2022.
The petitioner institute had challenged the denial order dated 31.01.2022 passed by the Medical Assessment and Rating Board of the Indian System of Medicine vide which its scheme for commencement of the said course was rejected.
The petitioner also assailed the orders dated 24.02.2022 and 31.03.2022 passed by the respondent authorities whereby its first appeal and second appeal against the denial of Letter of Permission was rejected.
The Court thus allowed the plea by quashing the impugned order dated 31.03.2022 passed by the Union of India. However, the Court said that no orders were called for in respect of the impugned orders which 31.1.2022 and 24.02.2022 as they stood merged in the impugned order dated 31.03.2022.
"The respondents are directed to forthwith issue a letter of permission to the petitioner institute to participate in the remaining rounds of counselling for admission to 80 seats in BAMS for the academic year 2021-2022," the Court directed.
The petitioner haad approached the Health and Family Welfare Department, state of Gujarat seeking a No Objection Certificate as required under the Indian Medicine Central Council (Requirements of Minimum Standard for undergraduate Ayurveda Colleges and attached Hospitals), Regulations, 2016. On 29.08.2020, the state government, after satisfying itself with the infrastructure and clinical material in the petitioner institute issued a NOC for establishment of an ayurveda college with the admission capacity of 60 seats in BAMS course to the petitioner.
On 23.09.2020, the petitioner, armed with this NOC, submitted an application to respondent no.2 under section 13A of the Indian Medical Central Council Act, 1970 for establishment of Sumandeep Ayurveda Medical College and Hospital. The said application was rejected by the respondent no.1 on 18.11.2020 for want of an updated Consent of Affiliation from the affiliating university as it was the petitioner‟s case that on account of being a Deemed to be University as per the UGC norms, it did not require a Consent for Affiliation.
Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner approached the High Court against the respondents‟ refusal to consider its application on the aforesaid ground and it was only after the intervention of the Court that the respondent no.1 agreed to process the petitioner‟s application without insisting on a Consent for Affiliation.
In the meanwhile, the petitioner received a fresh NOC dated 26.03.2021, with an increased intake of 80 seats in BAMS. However, since this NOC inadvertently referred to the academic year 2022-2023, a corrigendum was issued by the government of Gujarat on 03.08.2021, clarifying therein that the NOC, in favour of the petitioner, had in fact, been issued for the academic year 2021-2022.
In accordance with the procedure mentioned under the MSR, 2016 the petitioner, on 25.08.2021, sent its duly filled up Part-I visitation proforma alongwith the institute and hospital's layout, as also the visitation fees, so that the necessary inspection could be conducted for issuance of a Letter of Intent in its favour.
Based on the petitioner‟s application, and the NOC granted by the Government of Gujarat, the MARBISM appointed a team of visitors to undertake an online verification of the petitioner's faculty and infrastructure on 14.09.2021. During this inspection, the petitioner claimed to have shown all the relevant records in respect of both the In-Patient Department and Out-Patient Department, as also the doctors and nursing staff roster, to the members of the visitors‟ team.
After consideration of the report of this visitors‟ team, the petitioner was issued an LOI on 03.11.2021 by the respondent no.2, in accordance with the Establishment of New Medical College, Opening of New or Higher Course of Study or Training and Increase of Admission Capacity by a Medical College Regulations, 2019, by the Ministry of AYUSH, informing the petitioner that its scheme for 80 seats in its UG BAMS course had been approved.
After the LOI had been issued in the petitioner‟s favour for 80 seats, a further virtual inspection of its premises was carried out on 13.12.2021 by the MARBISM. Based on this inspection, the petitioner was issued a hearing notice by the MARBISM to explain certain purported deficiencies, for which an opportunity of hearing was granted to it on 17.01.2022, before the designated hearing committee appointed by the MARBISM.
The petitioner claimed that none of these deficiencies, in the notice dated 13.01.2022 existed, which was duly explained during the course of hearing granted to it, but, the respondent no. 2 issued a denial LOP to the petitioner for starting the (UG) BAMS course on 31.01.2022.
Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner preferred a first appeal under Section 29(5) of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act, 2020 which came to be rejected by the Appellate Authority of the respondent no.2 on 24.02.2022, thus, compelling the petitioner to prefer a second appeal under section 29(6) of the NCISM Act on 28.02.2022; which too was rejected by the Central Government vide the impugned order dated 31.01.2022.
Hence the petition was filed by the petitioner.
The Court noted that the order passed by the Centre recorded that the petitioner was not properly maintaining the OPD and IPD records, as also the staff duty roster, and was therefore, not a functional institute.
"Even though the respondents have really not pressed these aspects either in their counter affidavit or during their course of arguments, I find that, even otherwise, these grounds are extremely vague. None of the three impugned orders refer to the defects in the manner in which the petitioner is maintaining the OPD and IPD records, as also the doctors and nursing staff roster. In fact even the observations of the visitors‟ team are equally vague. Moreover, I cannot also lose sight of the fact that the state government while issuing the NOC, as also the respondent no.1 while forwarding the petitioner‟s application, had clearly found the hospital to be functional, which is evident from the certification given by the state government in the NOC," the Court observed.
The Court opined that the conclusion arrived at by the respondent regarding the three purported deficiencies was wholly perverse and it would be against the interest of justice of the students as well as the general public to deny permission to the petitioner institute to establish the Ayurvedic Medical College with 80 seats, for which two inspections have been carried out.
"Our country has, after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, been staunchly promoting the Ayurvedic system of medicine, and therefore, it is the need of the hour to encourage such institutes as the petitioner, which possess the necessary infrastructure for running ayurvedic medical colleges, to contribute to the bigger goal of strengthening the infrastructure of this system of medicine in the country. I am, therefore, of the opinion that it would be against public interest to deny permission to the petitioner college and let these 80 precious seats in BAMS to go waste," the Court said at the outset.
The plea was accordingly disposed of.
Case Title: SUMANDEEP VIDYAPEETH, AN INSTITUTE DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY v. UNION OF INDIA & ANR
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 356
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