It's like Munna Bhai MBBS movie, all patients are "hale, hearty": SC on medical college inspection

The bench told Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, 'Illness does not stop on 'Makar Sankranti'. Your client (college) did not say that there were no patients.'
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday came across a Bollywood movie 'Munna Bhai MBBS' moment while dealing with a case of cancellation of permission for admission of additional students in a medical college, owing to surprise inspection on grounds that patients in the wards were "hale and hearty" and "no serious in-patient was found in paediatric ward".

The National Medical Commission (NMC) told the top court that permission for admission of additional students was cancelled as there were no operation theatre and no X-RAY machines in the college besides other deficiencies.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said, "It is shocking. It's like a Munna Bhai movie. All the patients in the ward were found to be hale and hearty. In the paediatric ward, there was no serious patient. We can't tell what else we found in the inspection report. We were surprised.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Annasaheb Chudaman Patil Memorial Medical College, said that the inspection was carried out by the NMC without any notice and that too on a public holiday that is on the day of the festival 'Makar Sankranti', which is prohibited.

The bench told Singhvi, "Illness does not stop on 'Makar Sankranti'. Your client (college) did not say that there were no patients".

The bench was hearing appeals filed by NMC and the medical college, which is situated in Dhule district of Maharashtra, against the Bombay High Court order, which had directed for fresh inspection of the college by the commission and allowed the admission of students.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and advocate Gaurav Sharma said that NMC can take surprise inspection under the law and what the High Court order did was that it allows 100 MBBS students, to take admissions "in this type of college", which was the initial capacity.

"There is no operation theatre and no X-Ray machines," Mehta said, adding that students need not to be worried as they would be accommodated in other colleges after consultation with the government.

Mehta said, "Only one thing I need to point out, 100 were given the permission and 50 was new and what this order does is that they continue with 100 but don't admit new so that new batch does not come in this kind of institution. Now, if we cancel their recognition, those students will not suffer, as in consultation with the government we will distribute them in other colleges. But they cannot now start adding new students in this kind of institution."

Singhvi said that this college has been running since 1992 with 100 MBBS seat capacity and therefore NMC has no power to withdraw the permission for admission to these seats.

He said that NMC did not give permission for additional 50 seats based on the inspection report.

Senior advocate Nidesh Gupta, also appearing for the college, said that the infrastructure which has been flagged in the inspection report by the NMC has been in existence for decades, and then there was no issue about it.

The bench set aside the orders of Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court and asked it to consider afresh saying "the High Court having not dealt with the merits of the rival contention, we set aside the impugned order of the High Court dated January 25.2022 and February 2, 2022, and restore admission before the High Court."

The bench said, "as the record before this court stands, both the NMC as well as the medical college, are aggrieved by the orders of the High Court. The decision which was based on gross deficiency which was noted during the surprise inspection cannot be justified by simply ordering a fresh inspection without inquiring into the validity of inspection which has been already carried out."

It noted that the medical college, which was established in 1992, has an intake capacity of 100 seats for the MBBS course.

"The medical college submitted an application on November 30, 2020, for an increase in intake capacity from 100 to 150 MBBS seats for the academic year 2021-22. On July 15, 2021, renewal of recognition was granted for the academic year 2021-22 on the condition that continuation of recognition would be in accordance with law," the bench noted.

"The assessors appointed by the NMC conducted a physical inspection on September 8, 2021, and letter of intent was issued on November 16, 2021. The college submitted an undertaking on November 23, 2021, following which on November 25, 2021; permission was granted for the increase in capacity from 100 to 150 seats," it said.

The top court noted that on January 14, 2022, a surprise inspection was conducted, and based on the report of the inspection, on January 19, 2022, the NMC withdrew the letter of permission for an increase in the intake capacity and directed stoppage of admission for 2021-2022.

The order of the High Court was challenged by the NMC in the top court on the ground it was passed without noticing the provisions of the NMC Act. The medical college also challenged the High Court order.

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