The Punjab government has sought "views/concurrence" of the Dental Council of India (DCI) before giving the legal sanctity to 11 private dental colleges' illegal move of admitting 456 students to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course who had "not qualified" the 2012 Pre-Medical Entrance Test (PMET).
Behind this contentious move, which with impunity violates the Supreme Court ruling and is also contrary to the Punjab government's own notification, are Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) vice-chancellor SS Gill, principal secretary (medical education and research) Vini Mahajan, medical education and research minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, according to official documents Hindustan Times has accessed.
Evading the DCI's terse direction to take "necessary action strictly" against the erring private dental colleges, which in gross violation of the rules also admitted 11 such candidates to the BDS course who did not even appear in the PMET, the state government on May 17 mooted a proposal to the DCI for "regularisation of the admissions" in view of the "interest and career" of these "large number of candidates".
"You are requested to kindly indicate your views/concurrence to the approach suggested…," reads the Punjab government's May 17 letter to the DCI. The government has also enclosed BFUHS vice-chancellor Dr Gill's letter to make these admissions regular.
These colleges are being run by people close to the powers that be. At stake is not only the affiliation of these colleges but also the huge amounts of money the students have paid to buy these seats.
Thus, the matter went to the level of the chief minister and the minister in charge. The minister, while approving regularisation of admissions of "non-qualified" students, proposed that from next year a senior IAS officer be assigned the duty of supervising admissions in all BDS colleges to ensure that admissions were done on merit. Badal approved Bhagat's proposal on April 22.
The fresh move of the government is contrary to its initial stand. The government, in January, had intimated the DCI that 11 private dental colleges "at their own level" had admitted students to the BDS course in gross violation of the rules, regulations and guidelines and that these admissions "have not been regularised" by the BFUHS.
While asking the government to take action against the "erring dental colleges" which are affiliated to the BFUHS, Faridkot, the DCI had recommended "discharge of students" besides "withdrawal of affiliation".
Following the mounting pressure from the private colleges in question, the BFUHS V-C in March took a U-turn and asked the government to issue necessary directions for "regularisation of the admissions". The V-C stated that prior to 2012, similar non-qualified students had been admitted and that there had been no "objection/rejection" from the DCI. "There were a large number of seats lying vacant after the second centralised counselling and private dental colleges admitted candidates at their own as per previous years' practice," reads the V-C's letter.
After discussing the matter with the BFUHS V-C and director research medical education, principal secretary Vini Mahajan in her detailed note (HT has the copy) wrote: "…It was stated that "as per precedent of previous years…admissions made by these dental colleges seem to be logical." She further wrote: "It is proposed that we may forward the letter of the V-C, BFUHS, to the DCI to indicate their views/concurrence to the approach suggested by the V-C."
Admissions violate Supreme Court verdict
The PMET test was held on May 21, 2012 and its result was declared a day later.
On May 8, 2012, in a landmark verdict in the Priya Gupta versus the state of Chhattisgarh and others case, the apex court had ruled: "Every effort has to be made by all concerned to ensure that the admissions are given on merit after due publicity and not in a manner which is ex-facie arbitrary and casts the shadow of favouritism." Further, the ruling stated that the "seats will be filled on merit obtained in the entrance examination".
The ruling had prompted the Punjab government to make amendments in the admission procedure of the medical and dental colleges.
Despite this the dental colleges in question admitted "non-qualified" students as well as those who didn't appear in the PMET.