SC backs spot checks at medical colleges

Court rejects Haldia institute's plea against regulator but gives relief to existing students

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 3.10.17

New Delhi, Oct. 2: The Supreme Court has ruled that the Medical Council of India has the right to conduct surprise inspections of medical colleges to check compliance with norms, rejecting a Haldia-based college's allegations of "mala fide" against the medical education regulator.

After a surprise inspection, the MCI had recommended to the Centre not to allow further admissions to the Icare Institute of Medical Sciences and Research & Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy Hospital, Haldia, on the ground that it had failed to meet various norms such as bed and teacher strength.

The court noted that after the medical college had "submitted that it had complied with deficiencies pointed out by the team of assessors, the Medical Council of India (MCI) thought it necessary to have a (surprise) inspection... to verify whether the institution was really compliant".

The MCI's verification report of April 24 this year cited "a number of deficiencies", the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar noted in their recent judgment.

Observing that the assessors were "experts in the field", the bench rejected the charge of "mala fide" made in the joint petition by the Indian Centre for Advancement of Research and Education (Icare), Haldia, and its medical college.

"In the absence of any kind of material brought on record, the mere allegation that there was a surprise inspection, within a fortnight (of the first inspection), would not make the inspection a tainted one," the court said.

The petitioners had requested the court to quash the health ministry's May 31 order refusing to renew the medical college's recognition, and direct the Centre to recognise the MBBS degrees awarded to its latest batch of graduates.

The medical college claimed to have corrected all the deficiencies mentioned by the regulator.

But Chief Justice Mishra observed: "At the time of consideration of recognition, the compliance is viewed and scrutinised with great rigour and strictness. What may be treated as a minor deficiency at the initial stage may not remain so when the institution/college proceeds from year to year."

However, with the students' interests in mind, the court said: "We think it appropriate to direct that the students who have been admitted... shall be permitted to continue in the courses and the students who pass out from the institution, the MCI shall see to it that they are conferred degrees."

It did not comment on the stoppage of further admissions to the medical college, which was established in 2011.