Vardhan raps MCI for scrapping seats in medical colleges

Vardhan raps MCI for scrapping seats in medical colleges

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday flayed the Medical Council of India (MCI) for scrapping seats in medical colleges saying its “adversarial” stand led to a loss of 1,170 seats in the 2014-15 academic session, nipping in the bud the dreams of many meritorious candidates.

This comes following the Supreme Court quashing the Health Ministry’s plea for modification of the time schedule for granting approval to new colleges and renewal of permission to existing seats in old colleges. The apex court dismissed the ministry’s petition on July 31 as the MCI did not support it when its opinion was sought.

The ministry filed an interlocutory petition in court in the Priya Gupta vs Chhattisgarh case last month, after it did not receive any response from the MCI over its suggestion to review 150 cases. “Instead of supporting our plea in court, I am surprised the MCI opposed it. This makes me wonder whose side they are on,” the health minister said.

Vardhan said the MCI had received applications to raise the existing number of seats because of the establishment of new medical colleges and existing ones adding more seats. At one point of time in June, more than 10,000 seats were in jeopardy, but the MCI had to relent following persistent “advocacy” by the ministry.

“Eventually 2,750 were approved. On the other hand, the applications for 3,920 seats for fresh renewal were struck down for their failure to meet the MCI’s requirements. The net deficit, therefore, is 1,170. Of the 46 colleges affected, 41 are privately owned,” he added.

He pointed out that most of the “deficiencies” that the MCI underscored while rejecting the applications of medical colleges were about problems with air-conditioning in those institutions, or thickness of the partition walls in buildings.

In some cases, permission was cancelled by the MCI only because the libraries did not have sufficient number of journals, the minister noted.

“For years, it was an open secret that the MCI was looking the other way as medical colleges rampantly flouted regulations. Suddenly this year they have struck. But why are they not punishing the managements? Effectively, the MCI did not keep the sentiment of students in mind. It wanted to punish students instead of the college managements” he charged.

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