Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has directed the new board of governors, which has taken over the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI), to ensure transparency in the process of granting recognition to medical colleges.
"The decisions to be taken by the board of governors should be free, fair and without fear," Azad wrote in a letter addressed to governing body head and eminent gastroenterologist S K Sarin on June 2, officials sources said on Monday.
Last week, Azad wrote to the heads of medical colleges all over the country warning them of stringent action on being found involved in corrupt practices and entertaining middlemen or touts.
In his letter to the board of governors, Azad also cautioned the members against touts who were using the name of the board as well as the ministry, bringing bad name to them, the sources said.
"There are a large number of touts in the field of medical education who are being used by the managements of some interested institutions to get clearances for their colleges by illegal means. These touts collect money from interested institutions in the name of the government, office bearers and the members of the Medical Council of India, thereby bringing bad name to both the government and the Medical Council of India," Azad wrote in the letter.
"I would like you to caution the members of the newly constituted board of governors that they have to be vigilant and keep their eyes open since their every step is being watched by the entire country with high expectations," he added.
The six-member board of governors replaced the MCI in May after it was suspended following the resignation of its president Ketan Desai. Desai was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly accepting Rs two crore as bribe for granting recognition to a medical college in Punjab though it did not meet the standards.
Extending full support to the board, Azad reassured them of full autonomy in their decision.
"The ministry will be more than happy to provide all necessary support and assistance to the council as and when required. I would also like to make it clear that I have instructed the officials of the ministry not to interfere in the functioning of the board of governors," the minister wrote.
The board is empowered to grant permission for establishment of new medical colleges, opening new or higher courses of study and increase the admission capacity in any course of study.
Other members of the board are Ranjit Roy Chowdhary, Gautam Sen, Devi Shetty, R.L. Salhan and Sita Naik.