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Medical colleges: SC asks Centre to file response

By Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi Sept. 9. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to file its response on an application filed by ad hoc committee appointed by the court to manage the affairs of Medical Council of India (MCI) alleging that the Centre had bypassed the committee and gave permission to certain medical colleges in Andhra Pradesh to increase their student strength.

A Bench comprising Justice M. B. Shah and Justice A R Lakshmanan on Monday while seeking the Centre's response asked the Attorney-General, Soli J Sorabjee, Amicus Curiae Harish Salve and senior advocate K K Venugopal, who appeared for MCI, to sit together and resolve the controversy.

The ad hoc committee comprised eminent doctors -- N Rangabashyam of Chennai, P. N. Tandon of New Delhi, S K Bhansali of Mumbai and S Kantha of Bangalore.

The application moved through Mr. Salve alleged that the MCI was called upon to examine the application by the Andhra medical colleges, set up by the State Government for increase in their intake capacity of students. "The ad hoc committee along with the Executive Committee of the MCI did not find it appropriate to recommend the grant of such permission as it found substantial shortcomings.''

The Central Government forwarded compliance reports by the Andhra medical colleges to the MCI on August 8 and requested the MCI to undertake fresh inspection of the colleges. This request was received on August 11 by the MCI. However, five days later the Union Government granted permission to these colleges "as one-time measure'' for admission of fresh batches of students without awaiting the recommendations of the MCI, which was mandatory under the law.

The application said, "This permission, granted in a tearing hurry without even awaiting an inspection by the MCI, has to be viewed in the backdrop of the admitted fact that in the academic year 2002-03, these Government colleges had been admitting students even without receiving the recommendations/permissions from the Central Government. Strangely enough, the Government permission granted on August 16 makes the permission conditional on the State Government ensuring compliance with the requirements of the MCI and sorting out the pending issue relating to the previous year,'' it said.

"Thus, the colleges are free to admit students for the present, but if thereafter they are found non-compliant with the MCI regulations, these students would be left in the lurch, having been admitted into colleges which are unrecognised or unauthorised,'' the Committee said and added that if the Government had decided to deal with recognition of medical education at its own level, then the MCI had no role and the ad hoc committee could be dispensed with.

The Bench said that it would take up this matter on September 18.

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