India has one doctor for every 1,700 persons against the WHO-prescribed standard of 1 doctor for every 1,000 persons. MCI found guilty


Apex Court Holds MCI, Centre Guilty
Red tape consumed nearly 4,000 MBBS seats in the 2014-15 academic session, and this at a time when India is lagging behind the doctor to population ratio by a wide margin.

The country has one doctor for every 1,700 persons against the WHO-prescribed standard of one doctor for every 1,000 persons.

The Supreme Court held the government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) guilty for the loss of 3,920 MBBS seats mainly because of lethargic inspection of infrastructure in medical colleges and nongrant of timely permission to colleges to admit students.

A bench of Justices A R Dave, Vikramjit Sen and U U Lalit said, "The affidavit filed on behalf of Union of India shows that though the number of seats had risen, obviously because of permissions granted for establishment of new colleges, because of disapproval of renewal cases, the resultant effect was net loss in terms of number of seats available for the academic year." According to the affidavit, total capacity in MBBS courses increased from 51,598 in 2013-14 to 54,348 in 2014-15.However, renewal of seats was not permitted in case of 3,920 seats in 2014-15, leading to a net loss of 1,170 seats.

The MCI had recommended rejection of renewal in case of 8,667 seats. However, renewal permission for 4,747 seats in 73 government medical colleges was granted by the Centre on the last date, that is July 15, 2014, by relying on the undertaking compliance given by the respective state governments.

Calling the loss of MBBS seats serious, the bench said, "It not only causes loss of opportunity to the student community but at the same time causes loss to society in terms of less number of doctors being available. The MCI and the central government must, therefore, show due diligence right from the day when ap plications are received."

The SC has time and again dealt with the issue of admissions to medical colleges and attempted to streamline it by laying down a detailed schedule for inspection of medical colleges.

On rectification, a fresh inspection is to be carried out and a report sent expeditiously to the central government for either grant or rejection of the application seeking renewal of permission to admit students well ahead of the commencement of each academic session.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Lalit said the Centre had been empowered to make minor adjustments in the schedule for inspection and grant of permission to medical colleges. However, the bench clarified that the September 30 deadline to complete admissions to all MBBS seats must be scrupulously adhered to.