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Now, health ministry to penalise students who block medical seats for kicks

The health ministry will penalise candidates who indulge in such tactics for three degree courses: MBBS, post-graduate and super-specialty streams.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2017 08:29 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
MBBC Seats,Medical Students,National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test
Private colleges collude with highly ranked candidates to block MBBS seats, which are then offered to low-rank holders for huge donations during the mop-up round of counselling.(HT File Photo)

The Union health ministry has decided to impose a monetary penalty on candidates who opt for seats during the centralised counselling process, but drop out at the last moment.

The practice – informally termed as seat-blocking – not only prevents deserving candidates from gaining admission to good colleges but also wastes government money that has gone into creating these seats.

An article published in HT on September 28 showed how private colleges collude with highly ranked candidates to block MBBS seats, which are then offered to low-rank holders for huge donations during the mop-up round of counselling. While private colleges use seat-blocking as a tool to make money, government colleges end up losing resources as well as deserving candidates.

The health ministry will penalise candidates who indulge in such tactics for three degree courses: MBBS, post-graduate and super-specialty streams. Interestingly, it had warned candidates during the last round of counselling for super-specialty courses that they would be debarred from appearing in the entrance examination next year if they needlessly block a seat. Despite that, around 150 of the 300 candidates who opted for admissions (from 550 seats) in the last counselling session failed to turn up.

Health ministry officials believe the threat of debarment didn’t work because there are examinations other than the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for gaining admission to certain super-specialty courses. Some medical institutions that still remain out of its purview are the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Pondicherry; Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh; All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi; Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram; and National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences in Bengaluru.

As many as 2,000 seats have been allotted for super-specialty courses at medical colleges across the country.

“From next year, we will ask candidates to deposit the first-year fee at the time of seat allotment. If the candidate refuses to take admission after opting for a seat, he will lose the entire amount,” said Dr B Srinivas, additional director general (medical education) with the Directorate General of Health Services.

Some candidates block seats just for kicks, hampering others’ chances. Take the case of 29-year-old M Dharanindra – a medical professional with a master’s degree in anaesthesiology – who has not only lost an opportunity to pursue his doctorate in critical care from the prestigious Tata Memorial Hospital-Mumbai but is now being forced to spend an additional Rs 57 lakh to pursue the same course at a private medical college.

The story goes thus: Dharanindra and another candidate – Rakesh (name changed on request) – scored the same percentile of 96.94190, but the latter was ranked a notch higher due to seniority in age. “The last seat at the Tata Memorial went to him, while I was forced to join the Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College at Pune,” said Dharanindra. The fee for the three-year course at Bharati Vidyapeeth – a private institution – turned out to be Rs 60 lakh, 57 lakh more than Tata Memorial.

Meanwhile, Rakesh dropped out of the Tata Memorial because it couldn’t offer him “family accommodation”. He denied blocking the seat deliberately, or for any untoward consideration.

Dharanindhra can no longer avail of the vacant seat because the third round of counselling – conducted on the Supreme Court’s orders – ended on October 20. “Now, I will have to approach the apex court once again to seek yet another round of counseling,” he said.

The Supreme Court had introduced NEET – a single examination for all government and private colleges – on April 11, 2016. However, as the post-graduate and super-specialty examinations were already over by the time the apex order came along, it was implemented for these courses for the first time this year.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 08:29 IST