Requisite of minimum standards for enabling a medical college to seek fresh inspection is not contrary to the scheme of Section 10-A of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956

Supreme Court: Allowing the appeal filed by the Medical Council of India, the Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar, JJ., set aside the decision of Bombay High Court wherein it had ordered the MCI to inspect the respondent medical college, despite “large-scale deficiencies” being found during an inspection in 2017, and consider the grant of renewal permission for admission in academic year 2018-2019. The Bench held that there is no conflict between Section 10-A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Regn. 8 (3)(1) proviso (a) of the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999 and construing them together clearly indicates that opportunity shall be given to the medical colleges to rectify the defects; however, certain minimum standards are to be required. This requisite of minimum standards for availing an opportunity to seek re-inspection is not ultra vires either the Regulation or Section 10-A of the 1956 Act.

Vedantaa Institute of Academic Excellence had submitted an application under Section 10-A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 for starting a Medical College. The Union of India issued a letter of permission to admit the first batch of 150 students for the academic year 2017-2018. The inspection for the purpose of granting first renewal for admission of students for the academic year 2018-2019 was conducted on 25.09.2017 and 26.09.2017. However upon inspection by the Council, it was found that there was a severe deficiency of proper faculty and basic infrastructure.

The Council under Regn. 8 (3)(1) proviso (a) of the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999 disapproved the application of the respondent college for renewal of permission of MBBS course 2nd batch for the academic year 2018-2019.

The Bombay High Court allowed the Writ Petition filed by respondent on the ground that Regn. 8 (3)(1) proviso (a) is not applicable to the case. The High Court also raised doubts over the fairness with which the inspection was conducted. The counsel for the appellant contended before the Court that the  provisions concerned are neither in conflict with each other nor it’s language is ambiguous. It was further contended by the appellants that the Regulation was inserted with a view to ensure that institutions which do not satisfy the minimum infrastructure and faculty cannot to be given an opportunity to rectify their defects as the standards fixed by the Medical Council of India are the bare minimum and have to be strictly complied with to ensure the maintenance of basic minimum standards of medical education.

Perusing the contentions of the parties and the inspection notes provided by the appellants, the Bench concluded that the High Court interpreted the  provisions concerned erroneously by ignoring the proviso attached to Regn. 8 (3)(1). The Court observed that the provisions in question are complementary to each other as fixing minimum standards which have to be fulfilled for the purpose of enabling a medical College to seek fresh inspection would not be contrary to the scheme of Section 10-A. Relying on it’s decision in MCI v. Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, (2016) 11 SCC 530 the Court observed that medical education must be taken very seriously and when an expert body certifies that the facilities in a medical College are inadequate, it is not for the Courts to interfere with the assessment, except for very cogent jurisdictional reasons, which are not present in the instant case. [Medical Council of India v. Vedantaa Institute of Academic Excellence Pvt. Ltd,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 584, decided on 01.06.2018]

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