The Dental Council of India (DCI) has refused to accept the contentious proposal of the Punjab government to regularise the admission of 456 students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course in 11 "erring" private colleges without clearing the 2012 Pre-Medical Entrance Test (PMET).
The fate of these students hangs in balance, while the "erring dental colleges" (see box) affiliated with the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, face the threat of action as recommended by the DCI earlier. The BFUHS, after refusing to regularise their admission, has also not issued them the roll numbers for the first-year examinations beginning on June 26.
Ignoring the DCI's earlier terse direction to take "necessary action" against the colleges, which in gross violation of the rules had also admitted 11 candidates to the BDS course who had not even sat for the PMET, the state government on May 17 had mooted a proposal to the DCI for regularisation of the admissions in view of the "interest and career of these large number of candidates".
The government had sent a letter from the BFUHS vice-chancellor, Dr SS Gill, to the DCI to see these admissions made regular and requested the council to "kindly indicate your views/concurrence to the approach suggested…" by the V-C. The admissions are all legal, Dr Kamal Baghi, president of the Punjab Private Self-financed Dental and Medical Colleges Association, has said.
Sources in the DCI said its executive had discussed the May 17 proposal of Punjab government and, through a June 10 letter, informed the government that it affirmed its earlier recommendations, including discharge of students and withdrawal of affiliation from the private dental colleges.
When contacted, the BFUHS V-C said: "We have not issued roll numbers to the students…if the state government takes a decision (to regularise the admissions), only then we will issue the roll numbers."
Government sources say the medical education and research department received the DCI's reply on Wednesday and put the matter on fast track on Thursday for consideration of the issue at the level of cabinet minister Bhagat Chunni Lal.
In January, the state government had informed the DCI that 11 private dental colleges had admitted students to the BDS course in gross violation of the rules, regulations and guidelines. It had also indicated to the DCI that the colleges had made the admissions "at their own level" and the BFUHS had "not regularised" these.
Marked "most immediate", the DCI's earlier communiqué referring to the Punjab government's December 10, 2012, letter and the BFUHS' December 5, 2012, letter about admission of "non-qualified and non-appeared PMET-2012 students" had directed the government that "if no action had been taken, it be taken immediately." The DCI's executive committee had noted: "The erring dental colleges… have violated the provisions… issued by the Punjab government."
Following pressure from the private colleges, the BFUHS V-C took a U-turn in March and asked the government to issue directions to regularise the admissions. The V-C stated that prior to 2012, similar non-qualified students had been admitted and there had been "no objection from the DCI". "Many seats were vacant after the second centralised counselling and private dental colleges admitted candidates on their own based on previous years' practice," reads the V-C's letter.
'Admissions based on BFUHS prospectus'
The 456 students have been admitted as per rules in the BFUHS prospectus, Dr Kamal Baghi, president of the Punjab Private Self-financed Dental and Medical Colleges Association, has said.
"These admissions have not violated the Supreme Court verdict in the Priya Gupta case (May 8, 2012) because it is clear that any verdict is to be considered prospectively not retrospectively," he claimed, adding that all 456 had paid the fee as prescribed by the Punjab government and the admissions had been on merit.
Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar
Sukhmani Dental College, Dera Bassi (SAS Nagar)
Luxmi Bai Institute of Dental Sciences, Patiala
Genesis Institute of Dental Sciences, Ferozepur
National Dental College, Dera Bassi (SAS Nagar)
Guru Nanak Dev Dental College, Sunam (Sangrur)
Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences, Faridkot
Rayat-Bahra Dental College and Hospital, SAS Nagar
Sri Guru Ram Das Dental College, Amritsar
Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Ludhiana
SKS Sarabha Dental College, Sarabha (Ludhiana)
Note: 456 did not qualify the PMET, while 11 other didn't even sit for the test