Medical Council of India throws out 778 private college students in Puducherry
The medical education regulator has cancelled the admission of 778 MBBS students who joined private colleges in Puducherry last year for violating the Supreme Court’s guidelines, HT has learnt.
All the seven private medical colleges in the Union territory “haven’t demonstrated any evidence of fairness and transparency in the admission process...” the Medical Council of India said in a September 7, 2017 letter, cancelling the admissions.
HT has a copy of the order that came on the complaint of Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi, who said merit had been sacrificed for money.
Bedi got complaints from parents alleging fraud and ordered a probe which found that of the 1,200 students who joined the bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery, or MBBS, in 2016, 778 were admitted overlooking the top court’s directives on the national eligibility-cum-entrance test (NEET).
The state-run Indira Gandhi Medical College, which has 150 seats, is in the clean as it followed the counselling guidelines.
The MCI order highlights the difficulties in cleaning up medical education, a lucrative business, in India. NEET that replaced a web of tests conducted by states and various medical colleges was one such step.
But, some colleges continue to set aside norms for money or favour, leaving out deserving students. States have come up with arbitrary guidelines this year as well, as reported by Hindustan Times on Wednesday, raising questions over the fairness of the process.
While restoring NEET in 2016, the top court ordered all states to designate a counselling authority to prepare a list of successful candidates.
Puducherry, too, set up a centralised admission committee (Centac) but the seven private colleges admitted students directly, ignoring the panel.
Of the 1,200 MBBS seats -- bulk of them are with private colleges -- available in the UT, 283 are set aside for students of Puducherry, or state quota, while the remaining 767 are available to aspirants from across India.
Last year, 280 state-quota seats were filled through Centac. The three that remained vacant were added to the India pool, taking the number of seats to 770.
Panchapakesan Ganesan, whose daughter was denied admission, alleged that 778 admissions -- 770 under all India quota and eight in state quota – were made fraudulently.
President of Puducherry UT All Centac Students Parents Association M Narayanassamy wrote to Bedi, who asked a committee led by a retired judge, Chitra Venkatraman, to look into the charges.
Venkatraman’s report said the entire exercise violated the Supreme Court order, as students with high NEET scores were denied admission with money taking precedence over marks.
“At the hands of the private medical colleges, merit has become a casualty,” Bedi said in a letter to MCI.
The MCI on September 7 informed the chief secretary of its decision cancelling admission of all the students “except those who were admitted through Centac”.
As in the past, students can challenge the MCI order in the courts.
The MCI in 2016 threw out 519 students in four states for similar violations but most of the colleges managed to get relief from courts.
Colleges were misusing the legal system, as courts’ normally took a compassionate view and allowed students to continue, a senior lawyer who didn’t wish to be identified said.
‘Why spare colleges?’
The parents association has questioned the MCI’s failure to act against the erring colleges.
“I am surprised why no action has been recommended by the MCI against colleges? I feel disappointed as we didn’t intend to destroy the career of students,” Narayanasamy said.
Ganesan said he had written to the President seeking amnesty for students. “I started this crusade so that private colleges would mend their ways and be made more accountable. But I can’t see it happening,” he said.
Parents who have paid lakhs of rupees in fee say scrapping of admission a year later was unfair.