Bench sets aside decision of Board of Governors

No expiry date of Essentiality Certificate issued by the State Government has been contemplated anywhere in the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act and regulations, and the decision of the Board of the Governors, superseding the Medical Council of India (MCI), that the certificate will expire in three years is out of its power and competence, the Madras High Court has said.

The First Bench of Acting Chief Justice, Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan, said this in its judgment, while allowing a writ appeal by a medical college challenging a single Judge’s order dismissing its writ petition.

The court observed that Parliament’s legislative power had not been delegated to the Board of Governors so as to frame its own rules. The Board should strictly adhere to the scheme of things propounded under the IMC Act and regulations. There was no amendment by Parliament giving life of only three years to the certificate.

The State Government had issued the Essentiality Certificate to Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital, a constituent college of the Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research (Bharath University), Chromepet near here, for an annual intake of 100 students in the MBBS course from academic year 2003-04 and the then MCI had granted permission. The Centre renewed permission for admission of 100 students from that year.

The college applied to the Board for increasing the intake from 100 to 150 for 2011-12 along with the Essentiality Certificate and the deemed university’s consent. After inspection and several correspondences between the parties, the Board, by a letter dated June 29 last year, disapproved the college’s proposal.

The institution filed a writ petition. A single Judge dismissed it. Hence, the present appeal.

Appellant’s counsel Vijaynarayanan contended that neither the IMC Act nor the regulations specified any time limit for Essentiality Certificate. Therefore, the Board’s decision requiring the college to obtain the certificate afresh was illegal.

The Board argued that at its meeting on December 12, 2011, it was decided to demand revalidation of Essentiality Certificate after three years from the date of issue.

Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and Aruna Jagadeesan said there was no denying the fact that neither in the IMC Act nor in the Establishment of Medical College Regulations any time limit had been prescribed with regard to the validity of the certificate. The legislature had not imposed any such burden on the applicant. If the Board wanted to fix a time limit, it should have recommended to the government to amend the law accordingly. In the absence of such an action, the board, on its own, could not insist on the applicant to get a fresh certificate from the State government as if its life was limited only to three years.

The Bench directed the Board Chairman to consider the college’s application for increase of strength without insisting on a fresh essentiality certificate from the State government and pass orders on merit and as per law within eight weeks.