The Supreme Court has allowed the Medical Council of India's (MCI) plea to extend the last date to grant a Letter of Permission for the establishment of new medical colleges as well as for the renewal of existing colleges and the increase in intake capacity in MBBS and super-speciality medical courses.
The Court also acceded to the MCI's request to extend the deadline for admission to Postgraduate courses for academic year 2020-21, from May 31 to July 31.
The Bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai were of the view that the prayer seeking a 3 month extension to complete the required processes was justified in view of the unique situation presented by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through three applications, the MCI had requested the Court to modify the schedule for the Academic Year 2020-21 so that proper inspection of medical colleges and counselling process of students could be undertaken. It had been requested that they be granted an extension not only to establish new colleges and grant permission for renewal of existing ones, but also to incorporate new super-speciality courses and allow an increased intake for these courses. The third application sought an extension of deadline for the admission of students to PG courses, from 31.5.2020 to 31.7.2020.
"Miscellaneous application stands allowed in terms of prayer (a)", recorded the Order, allowing all three prayers.
Given the peculiar situation presented by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was urged that the initial cut-off date for the grant of Letters of Permission be extended from May 31 to August 31, as a one-time measure.
Earlier, on 18.01.2016, the Top Court had approved MCI's time schedule for processing admissions to Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Super-speciality courses, as well that for processing applications for new establishments/renewal of existing ones under Section 10A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (IMC Act). Notably, the last date for the grant of Letters of Permission to this effect was to be May 31. This timeline, submits the Council, was strictly adhered to in compliance with Court Orders.
Subsequently in September 2018, the Centre passed an Ordinance affording a Board of Governors the power to discharge functions under the IMC Act, in supersession of the MCI. The Board now has powers to permit the establishment of new colleges, opening of new courses and increase admission capacity independently of MCI.
However, informs MCI, the physical assessment of a college and a report thereof is essential in determining whether or not a college may be granted a Letter of Permission. This is irrespective of the Board being in supersession of the Council or not, asserts MCI.
The applicant has further apprised the Court that the process of physical inspection/assessment of colleges could not take place as its office as well as the concerned colleges were not fully functional in lieu of the nationwide lockdown. The cases of 108 colleges are, therefore, pending before the Board for final decision, states the application.
In view of the entire situation, the new academic session for the year 2020-21 cannot commence before September 15, informs MCI.
Thus, it is "submitted that the balance of convenience is in favour of the applicant and no irreparable loss shall be caused to the any party if the present application is allowed. The present application is bona-fide and in the interest of justice."
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