Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quality of Medical Education: Supreme Court’s Concern in Judgment dated 6th September 2013

Quality of Medical Education: Supreme Court’s Concern in Judgment dated 6th September 2013
Division Bench of Hon’ble SC shows its anguish in following words:
We think, this is an apt occasion to ponder over whether we have achieved the desired goals, eloquently highlighted by the Constitution Bench judgments of this Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation and  Others  vs. State of Karnataka and others  (2002) 8 SCC 481 and P.A.  Inamdar andOthers vs. State of Maharashtra and others (2005) 6 SCC 537.  TMA Pai Foundation case (supra) has stated that there is nothing wrong if the entrance test being held by self financial institutions or by a group of institutions but the entrance test they conduct should satisfy the triple test of being fair, transparent and not exploitative.  TMA Pai Foundation (supra) and Inamdar (supra) repeatedly stated that the object of establishing an educational institution is not to make profit and imparting education is charitable in nature. Court has repeatedly said that the common entrance test conducted by private educational  institutions  must  be  one  enjoined  to  ensure   the fulfillment  of  twin object  of  transparency and merits  and  no capitation fee be  charged  and  there  should  not  be  profiteering. [Para 38
Facts, however, give contrary picture.  In Inamdar, this Court, in categorical terms, has declared that no capitation fee be permitted to be charged and no seat can be permitted to be appropriated by  payment of capitation fee. [Para 38]
The CBI’s investigation, however,  reveals  a  sorry  state  of  affairs, which  is  an  eye-opener  for  taking  appropriate  remedial measures in future so that medical  education  may  attain  the  goals envisaged by the IMC Act and the Regulations and serve the  community.  CBI had to charge-sheet none other than the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, itself which depict how the educational system in this country is deteriorating. Many of regulatory bodies like MCI, AICTE, UGC etc. were also under serious clout in the recent years. CBI, in the year 2010, had to arrest the President of the MCI for accepting bribe to grant recognition to one Medical College in Punjab.  Later, it is reported that the CBI found that the President of the MCI and its family members possessed disproportionate assets worth of 24 crores.  We have referred to these instances  only  to indicate the falling  standards  of  our  educational  system  at  the highest level, sometime even at the level of  the  Central  Government making a serious inroad  to  the  right  to  life  guaranteed  to  the citizens of the country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. [Para 39]
Mushrooming of large number of medical, engineering, nursing and pharmaceutical colleges, which has definitely affected the quality of education in this country, especially in the medical field which call for serious introspection. Private medical educational institutions are always demanding more number of seats in their colleges even though many of them have no sufficient infrastructural facilities, clinical materials, faculty members, etc. Reports appear in every now and then that many of the private institutions which are conducting medical colleges are demanding lakhs and sometimes crores of rupees for MBBS and for post-graduate admission in their respective colleges. [Para 40]
                Recently, it is reported that few MBBS seats were sold in private colleges of Chennai.  We cannot lose sight of the fact that these things are happening in our country irrespective of the constitutional pronouncements by this Court in TMA Pai Foundation that there shall not be any profiteering or acceptance of capitation fee etc. Central Government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Central Bureau of Investigation or the Intelligence Wing have to take effective steps to undo such unethical practices or else self-financing institutions will turn to be students financing institutions. [Para 40]
We notice that the current policy of the Central Government in the higher education is to provide autonomy of institutions, but adoption of unfair practices is a serious violation of the  law.  Few States, like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi etc. have  passed  some legislation to  prohibit demand/collection  of  capitation  fee  which  have  no  teeth, the institutions who indulges in such practices can  get  away  by  paying some fine, which is meager. [Para 41]
Need for Parliamentary Legislation for curbing unfair practices:
We, therefore, emphasise the extreme necessity of a Parliamentary Legislation for curbing these unfair practices, which is the demand of our society. “The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and University Bill, 2010” has already been presented to both the Houses of Parliament. It is reported that the States have welcomed such a legislation, but no further follow up action has been taken. We are confident, earnest efforts would be made to bring in proper legislation, so that unethical and unfair  practices  prevalent  in higher technical and medical institutions can be effectively curbed in the larger public interest. [Para 42]
Reference:
·         K.S. Radhakrishnan, J., A.K. Sikri, J. Rohilkhand Medical College & Hospital, Bareilly vs. Medical Council of India & Another, Writ Petition (Civil) No.585 of 2013, Date of Judgment: September 06, 2013, http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=40735


   

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