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The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, which has been cleared by the Cabinet, is set to replace the existing Medical Council Act, 1956. The new body gives longer rope to medical colleges, but has a say on fees. The new Bill looks at moving to a less regulated environment in medical education, in favour of “outcome based monitoring”. Several conditions, such as increasing the intake of students, will be relaxed once the Bill is cleared.

At present, the Medical Council of India (MCI) gives permission for the establishment and recognition of medical colleges, renews their licenses and approves increases in intake of students. Once the new Bill is implemented, colleges do not need to renew licences, and can increase student intake on their own. They can also start post-graduate courses on their own, without seeking permission from the National Medical Commission (NMC), which will replace the MCI. Opening up the medical education sector will lead to significant addition in the number of UG and PG seats and substantial new investment in this infrastructure sector.

Under the new Bill, if a college does not fulfil any requirements, it will not face strict penalties such as not having its licence renewed or not being allowed to admit new students. Rather, it would face a fine of up to 10 times the annual tuition fee. One of the critical changes that the new law is expected to bring about is determination of fees. While the MCI did not have any power to prescribe fees, the NMC can frame guidelines for determining the fee for up to 40 per cent of the seats in private medical colleges.

[Source: The Hindu Business Line]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Bench comprising of R.S. Jha and A.K. Joshi, JJ. held that Dental Council of India (D.C.I.) and Medical Council of India (M.C.I.) should not give any undue benefit to relatives or children of powerful authorities and shall grant it to those who falls within the parameters constructed under regulations of M.C.I. and D.C.I.

Petitioners stated that D.C.I. and M.C.I. have granted migration in “undeserving cases” such as to the children and relatives of I.A.S., I.P.S. officers and ministers and denied it to others. The Court disposed off the petition stating that the instances included by petitioners are “stale” and “old” and therefore no decision in respect to order of migration can be given by court. It further directed M.C.I. and D.C.I. to strictly adhere by the regulations before granting migration. [Dr. Anand Rai v. Medical Council of India,  2017 SCC OnLine MP 799, decided on 17.05.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking quashing of admission notice issued by CBSE dated 31.1.2017 that stipulates the maximum age of 25 years as eligible candidates to undergo the NEET examination, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that, prima facie, such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India and that it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before 5.4.2017.

It was contended by the petitioners that in the absence of Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India with regard to the age limit, by issuance of a notice, the age limit could not have been determined and that there are students who, after graduation, are also desirous of taking NEET examination to become doctors.

Directing that the online portal shall be opened from today evening, the Court said that if the competent authority of the CBSE seeks any logistic support from the agencies for having additional centres in the District, the Collector of the concerned District or the Commissioner of the City whoever is the authority will extend all the support so that the forms are accepted and the examinations are held on the date fixed by making different centres available.

The Court further clarified that if any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this Court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. However, no High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres.

The matter will be taken up in the second week of July, 2017 for final hearing. [Rai Sabyasachi v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 303, order dated 31.03.2017]


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A.K. Goel, JJ cleared the air over the much debated topic as to the hardship to the students who have either applied for NEET-I but could not appear or who appeared but could not prepare fully thinking that the preparation was to be only for 15% All India seats and there will be further opportunity to appear in other examinations. The Court said that all such eligible candidates who could not appear in NEET-I and those who had appeared but have apprehension that they had not prepared well, can be permitted to appear in NEET-II, subject to seeking an option from the said candidates to give up their candidature for NEET-I. The Court also said that the date of the NEET-II can be rescheduled, if necessary.

Regarding the State Government’s power to legislate on matters relating to admission, the Court referred to the Constitution Bench’s judgment dated 02.05.2016, where it was held that the admission involved two aspects. First, the adoption of setting up of minimum standards of education and coordination of such standards which aspect was covered exclusively by Entry 66 of List I. The second aspect is with regard to implementation of the said standards which was covered by Entry 25 of List III. On the said aspect, the State could also legislate. The two entries overlap to some extent and to that extent Entry 66 of List I prevailed over the subject covered by Entry 25.

The Court further said that the Oversight Committee appointed by this Court vide the aforementioned judgment dated 02.05.2016 shall also oversee the NEET-II examination to be conducted by the CBSE. [MEDICAL & DENTAL COLLEGE v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 480, decided on 09.05.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Niji Vyavasayik Shikshan Sanstha (Pravesh Ka Viniyaman Avam Shulk Ka Nirdharan) Adhiniyam, 2007′, the Admissions Rules, 2008 and the Madhya Pradesh Private Medical and Dental Post Graduate Courses Entrance Examination Rules, 2009, that regulate the admission of students in post graduate courses in private professional educational institutions and deal with fixation of fee and reservation of seats, the Court held that education is treated as a noble ‘occupation’ on ‘no profit no loss’ basis. Thus, those who establish and are managing the educational institutions are not expected to indulge in profiteering or commercialise this noble activity.

The constitutional bench comprising of Anil R Dave, Dr. A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, Adarsh K Goel and R Banumathi, JJ held that though the right to establish and administer an institution includes the right to admit students and to set up a reasonable fee structure, fixing of rigid fee structure, dictating the formation and composition of a governing body, compulsory nomination of teachers and staff for appointment or nominating students for admissions would be unacceptable restrictions. The State can forbid charging of capitation fee and profiteering. The object of setting up educational institution is not to make profit. There could, however, be a reasonable revenue surplus for development of education. Hence, it was held that the unitary CET will tackle the capitation fee and bring about transparency.

Holding that for admission, merit must play an important role, the Court held that such merit should be determined either by the marks that students obtained at qualifying examination or at the CET conducted by the institutions or in the case of professional colleges, by Government Agencies.

Considering the corruption in the MCI, the Court constituted and Oversight Committee to oversee the functioning of the MCI consisting of the following members:

  1. Justice R.M. Lodha, former Chief Justice of India
  2. (Dr.) Shiv Sareen, Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences
  3. Shri Vinod Rai, former Comptroller & Auditor General of India

It was hence said that to achieve fulfillment of twin objectives of transparency and merit the State is permitted to provide a procedure of holding a CET in the interest of securing fair and merit based admissions and preventing maladministration. [Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 373, decided on 02.05.2016]