Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ., pronounced an order in which it was suggested by Amicus Curiae Kapil Sibal and further accepted by the Court that “a computer-based technological solution which might include artificial intelligence should be advised”  for the purpose of inspections in medical colleges.

The Court noted that various disputes have been observed in regard to the same issue of inspections of various private medical colleges by the Medical Council India (MCI). Contesting parties virtually contest every fact that is recorded in the inspection.

Amicus Curiae, Kapil Sibal suggested for a computer network based technological solution for the above-stated problem and for that he requested for the appointment of Mr Nandan Nilekani who is an expert for this problem. Further, Gaurav Sharma, counsel for the respondent also supported the stated suggestion.

Therefore, the Court agreeing to the same requested Mr Nandan Nilekani to give a concrete suggestion at the earliest. Further, the Court stated that respondent’s counsel and amicus curiae shall prepare a written note highlighting the issues that need to be taken up by Mr Nilekani to provide solutions to the problem stated above. Also, he has the liberty to take technical assistance from various IT companies.

The matter is listed after 6 weeks for further hearing. [Al Azhar Medical College and Super Speciality Hospital v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1633, dated 19-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where a Medical Institution was aggrieved the Government order dated 31.05.2017, which resulted into non-renewal of the permission to admit students for the academic year 2017-2018, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ held that the order was non-reasoned and directed the Central Government to afford a further opportunity of hearing to the petitioners as per Section 10-A of the Medical Council Act, 1956 and also take the assistance of the Supreme Court mandated Oversight Committee. The matter will be taken up on 24.08.2017.

Stressing upon the need to have institutions which are worthy to impart medical education so that the society has not only qualified doctors but doctors with impeccable and sensitive qualities, the Court said that the objectivity of the Hearing Committee and the role of the Central Government assume great significance in this regard.  The real compliant institutions should not always be kept under the sword of Damocles. Stability can be brought by affirmative role played by the Central Government and the stability and objectivity would be perceptible if reasons are ascribed while expressing a view and absence of reasons makes the decision sensitively susceptible.

The Court said that the direction of the Central Government for compliance verification report should not be construed as a limited remand as is understood within the framework of Code of Civil Procedure or any other law. The distinction between the principles of open remand and limited remand is not attracted. It was clarified that it would be inapposite to restrict the power of the MCI by laying down as an absolute principle that once the Central Government sends back the matter to MCI for compliance verification and the Assessors visit the College they shall only verify the mentioned items and turn a blind eye even if they perceive certain other deficiencies. The Court said that the emphasis is on the compliant institutions that can really educate doctors by imparting quality education so that they will have the inherent as well as cultivated attributes of excellence. [IQ City Foundation v. UOI, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 842 decided on 01.08.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Government of India order, by which the colleges/institutions have been directed not to admit students in the MBBS Course in the academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that a reasonable opportunity of hearing contained in the proviso to Section 10A(4) of Medical Council Act, 1956 is an indispensable pre-condition for disapproval by the Central Government of any scheme for establishment of a medical college and hence the Central Government should consider afresh the materials on record pertaining to the issue of confirmation or otherwise of the letter of permission granted to the petitioner colleges/institutions.

The Court further said that the Supreme Court Mandated Oversight Committee is empowered to oversee all statutory functions under the Act, and further all policy decisions of the MCI would require its approval and that its recommendations, to state the least, on the issue of establishment of a medical college, can by no means be disregarded or left out of consideration. The Court clarified that the Oversight Committee is also empowered the Oversight Committee to issue appropriate remedial directions.

The order that was challenged was the order dated 31.05.2017 of the Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Department of Health and Family Welfare) whereby the conditional permission for the establishment of the medical colleges for the academic year 2016-17, granted on the basis of the approval of the Supreme Court Mandated Oversight Committee had been cancelled and the colleges have been debarred from admitting students in the next two academic years i.e. 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Asking the Central Government to re-evaluate the recommendations/views of the MCI, Hearing Committee, DGHS and the Oversight Committee, as available on records, the Court directed that the process of hearing and final reasoned decision should be completed within 10 days. The matter will next be taken up on 24.08.2017. [Glocal Medical College and Super Speciality Hospital & Research Centre v. UOI, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 846, order dated 01.08.2017]