Quick and arbitrary removal of secretaries and delay in reconstitution of the council might be tactical – to act as a cover for several scams that plague the body
Pankaj Kumar | June 5, 2013
Of late, the medical council of India has been in news for all the wrong reasons. The appointment of the present secretary, RP Meena, an IPS of the Odisha cadre, has created a controversy in the medical fraternity. The Indian medical association has lodged a strong protest for selecting the secretary from the non-medical community.
Before that, then secretary Sanjiv Srivastava had resigned from the post alleging harassment. Just prior to that incident, Dr Sangeeta Sharma, a medical practitioner for 16 years, was sacked because her appointment did not have approval from the appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC). But then, she did not appoint herself. Besides, in another such case (appointment of RN Setalvad as secretary) a few years ago, the MCI had told the Delhi high court that ACC rules were not binding on them.
Even since MCI chairman Ketan Desai was arrested on corruption charges and MCI was disbanded, things have not been all right with the council –barring a year under the chairmanship of Dr SK Sarin who got the common medical entrance test, the national entrance eligibility test, NEET, notified. With the bill still hanging fire in parliament, MCI’s reconstitution is allegedly being delayed to serve the interest of certain political masters.
About Sanjiv Srivastava’s tenure, an MCI insider told Governance Now on conditions of anonymity: “He was fed up of being asked to follow verbal directions to ignore deficiencies and grant permission to a college in south India and to increase MBBS seats in a few Madhya Pradesh colleges without conducting inspection.”
Another high-profile former member of MCI’s board of governors (BoG) said NEET could have been enforced a year earlier but for the tactical delay caused by vested interests (reference: BoG minutes dated July 7, 2011 and October 17, 2011.)
MCI sources also said conditional letters of permission were issued for the first time to colleges facing substantial evidence of irregularity in reports of the central bureau of investigation (CBI) and central vigilance commission (CVC). Fake faculty, fake patients and connivance with the assessors were used to obtain recognition from the MCI.
According to sources, despite irregularities reported by CBI and CVC, the BoG headed by Dr KK Talwar issued conditional letters of permission (LOPs) to four colleges (National Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jaipur; Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar; Muzaffarnagar Medical College; Teerthankar Mahavir Medical College, Moradabad) on March 31, 2012.
The MCI also took some arbitrary decisions favouring some colleges caught in a sting operation conducted by Tehelka magazine in 2011, while discrediting others.
Perhaps in a bid to please the political masters, the BoG headed by Dr KK Talwar granted seats to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, even without consent of affiliation, an essential requirement for increasing PG seats (reference: minutes of BoG meeting on January 23, 2012, item number 13). The college had submitted consent of affiliation on March 15, 2012, which was after the last date of submission of application (i.e. May 31, 2011). Besides, to favour Sree Narayana Institute of Medical Sciences, Ernakulam, compliance inspection in August 2011 was done after the cut-off date (June 30, 2011) and the college was granted approval ignoring discrepancies.
As per norms, MCI has no power to conduct any inspection after the last date.
But under the garb of improvised inspection process coupled with a new incumbent novice secretary every year, the inspection has become a formality. For the past two years, there has been an undue delay in conducting first inspections for all new applications for the academic year for setting up new medical colleges, increasing seats and renewal of permission (i.e. recognition).
As per regulations, every college/application is given an opportunity to make up the deficiencies identified during inspection and is allowed a personal hearing before making a final decision. The rules are flouted by not giving an opportunity to the colleges for compliance and PG seats are allotted in an arbitrary manner without consideration of the existing infrastructure and manpower duly complied by the colleges leading to unprecedented rise in litigation and wastage of public money.
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