Punjab’s medical education panel is defunct for more than six years, even as complaints against private medical institutes have increased.
The mandate of this nodal authority — as defined under the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission), Fixation of Fee and Maintenance of Education Standard), Act, 2007 — is to bring transparency and quality into medical education to prevent the exploitation of students.
Under Section 8 of the Act, its members can accept direct complaints from students and their parents and take notice of the excess fee or admission-related issues on their own. The panel has the powers of a civil court to access and scrutinise college records.
On August 27, 2008, the government appointed justice Amarbir Singh Gill (retd) as the panel’s first chairman along with then-Chandigarh-PGI-head Dr KK Talwar and former Panjab University vice-chancellor RP Bambah as first members. But after their term ended in 2010, no fresh appointment was made.
Gill said it should be re-activated, “since the objectives of the Act cannot be enforced without this authority”.
“We provided a lot of students with relief in many cases,” Gill said “A girl found seat in a government college after joining a private college initially. We got her fee refunded.” Bambah said the watchdog required permanent office, staff, and the government’s will to accept its decisions.
The criteria for appointing members is well defined. All medical institutes must display the address and the contact details of this authority. Dr Talwar, its former convener, said: “These bodies are important and that’s why they were constituted in the first place. But I would not be able to answer why it could not sustain thereafter.”
Chandigarh-based PMT trainer Arvind Goyal said Adesh University had hiked its fee recently to the level of exploitation. Students then faced issues with Gian Sagar and Chintpurni medical colleges. “An active panel will at least protect the interests of students.”
When Haryana passed a similar Act in 2012, it used it to stop fee hike at Mullana’s private medical university. Punjab medical education secretary Vikas Partap said he would try to find out why this nodal authority was defunct in his state. The state has three government-run and six private medical institutes, including a deemed university, besides 16 colleges of dental science and more than 100 of nursing.
Created on: August 27, 2008
Set up under: Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission), Fixation of Fee and Maintenance of Education Standard), Act, 2007
Mandate: To bring transparency and quality into medical education, prevent the exploitation of students
First chairman: Justice Amarbir Singh Gill (retd)
First members: Dr KK Talwar (then head of the PGI, Chandigarh), RP Bambah (former Panjab University vice-chancellor)
Defunct since: 2010, after the term of its members ended and no fresh appointment was made