AYUSH department attempt may end up in their closure: court

The Madras High Court on Monday permitted the Government Siddha Medical College at Palayamkottai in Tirunelveli district and the Government Ayurveda Medical College at Kottar in Kanyakumari district to continue holding classes for the current academic year and conduct examinations.

Justice V. Ramasubramanian set aside an order of January 20 this year by the Joint Secretary, Department of AYUSH, Union Health Ministry, rejecting the permission sought by the institutions for academic year 2011-12.

The petitions were filed by T. Arutselvam, a student of MD (Siddha) and B. Santhi and 25 other students of the degree course in Ayurveda. They prayed the court to quash the Centre's order and direct the authorities to grant permission and allow the students to complete the post-graduate course in Siddha and degree course in Ayurveda.

In the counter, the Director of the National Institute of Siddha, who is an alumnus of the Government Siddha Medical College, said both the colleges were granted only conditional permission in previous academic years, but had not fulfilled these conditions. They had not rectified the deficiencies pointed out before the cut-off date for admission, October 31, 2011.

By a communication in March last year, it had been made clear that the fulfilment of minimum standards norms should be as on the date of inspection, but not on any subsequent date. Therefore, the representation that norms had been subsequently fulfilled could not advance the colleges' cause.

Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said a government college teaching alternative systems of medicine should be seen in the context of the initiatives taken by several governments globally, to nurture, protect and preserve alternative indigenous systems of medicine. The impugned order relating to the siddha college said that as against the requirement of 64 teachers, the college had only 60. As against the bed occupancy of 50 per cent for post-graduate courses and 40 per cent for under-graduate courses, the college had only 38.29 per cent. The deficiencies in the ayurveda college cited that though at least there should be 18 eligible teachers out of the total requirement of 20, it had only 11 teachers. There was no higher faculty. But, in the counter, the State Commissioner of Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy had detailed the steps taken to rectify the deficiencies. Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said in the ayurveda college, there was a problem with regard to redesignation of tutors as lecturers. They were subsequently rectified.

The revised norms of March 2011 required that 50 per cent bed occupancy should have been there during the period from January 1 to December 31, 2010. To this extent, the minimum standards norms, which were not even notified, sought to take away the rights already vested in government colleges by virtue of the old regulations.