While considering a batch of petitions relating to medical admissions, the Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh for the poor infrastructure of their government medical colleges.
A vacation bench of Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Indu Malhotra was hearing a string of writ petitions challenging a refusal by the Medical Council of India to issue Letters of Permission to eight colleges, possessing a total of 800 seats, in these states.
In pursuance of the Supreme Court order dated June 14, senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Government of Bihar, produced an affidavit on behalf of the state, indicating the nature of deficiencies as pointed out by the MCI in terms of infrastructural facilities and faculty, the response of the state government as to the present status thereof, the timeline within which the continuing deficiencies shall be rectified and the outlay of capital required for the same.
On June 14, the court had also needed the Principal Secretary, Incharge, Medical Education as well as the Chief Secretary of the states concerned to submit an undertaking in respect of the responsibilities to be shouldered by them.
“What would happen to the patients if this is the infrastructure of the medical colleges and the (attached) hospitals? You have to treat human beings and not animals...In ’98, we had already said that you are producing half-baked doctors...,” remarked Justice Nazeer on Monday.
In MCI v. State of Karnataka (1998), the apex court, while dealing with admissions made in excess of the intake capacity fixed by the MCI, had noted, “A medical student requires grueling study and that can be done only if proper facilities are available in a medical college and the hospital attached to it has to be well-equipped and the teaching faculty and doctors have to be competent enough that when a medical student comes out, he is perfect in the science of treatment of human beings and is not found wanting in any way. The country does not want half-baked medical professionals coming out of medical colleges when they did not have full facilities of teaching and were not exposed to the patients and their ailments during the course of their study...”
“The faculty deficiency is at 18%...within three months we shall have a full faculty...,” Kumar sought to submit.
In response, ASG Maninder Singh advanced, “In Prakash Singh (2006), to tackle the deficiency of police personnel, then Chief Justice Khehar had required the Chief Secretaries of 2-3 states to appear in person every Monday and Friday, recording their personal responsibility to make appointments as per the directions of this court...My grievance is that in the present case, the Secretaries have not assumed such ‘personal responsibility’ in the undertakings submitted...”
“We will make them responsible,” asserted Justice Malhotra.
For the sake of the students, the ASG suggested the colleges be permitted to function at present, subject to the outcome of the inspection by the MCI after three months. “If the deficiencies are not cured within this period, the colleges will have to be closed,” he stated.
“Also please do not allow this to become a precedent...otherwise, High Courts will pass orders and we shall be nowhere...please let this exception only be confined to the peculiar circumstances of this case...800 seats is too big a number...,” he continued.
To back the plea for interim directions, senior counsel Vibha Datta Makhija, representing the state of UP, cited the order of the Supreme Court in Hindu Charitable Trust Shekhar Hospital v. UOI (2014), where it was observed, “...when several seats for medical admission are likely to remain vacant for the academic year 2014-15, we are of the view that these matters require urgent consideration and we are giving these interim directions under the provisions of Article 142 of the Constitution of India...We are conscious of the fact that number of physicians in our country is much less than what is required and because of non-renewal of recognition of several medical colleges, our citizens would be deprived of a good number of physicians...”
Accordingly, the court has passed the following directions;
We hereby direct that in view of the undertakings submitted by the Principal Secretary of each of the three States, permission is granted to the aforesaid Government Medical Colleges for admission to the MBBS course for the current academic year 2018-19. The seats in the aforesaid Government Medical Colleges will be included in the seat matrix, for which counseling is scheduled to take place on 19th June, 2018.
The MCI shall carry out an inspection after three months to verify that the State Governments have in fact carried out compliance to rectify the deficiencies pointed out. If the deficiencies are not removed within the period specified, the Principal Secretary of each of the States will be held personally responsible for non-compliance with the Orders passed by this Court.
The Order passed in the present Writ Petitions will not be treated as a precedent, as the same are being passed in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, as otherwise over 800 seats in Government Medical Colleges would get wasted.
The Writ Petitions will remain pending for compliance. Post these petitions on 25th September, 2018 for further proceedings.