UP: Judge ‘corrects’ his bench order to allow medical college to admit students
On Sept 4, justice Narayan Shukla made a correction by hand in the order. He signed the corrections with the remark, “corrected suo moto”, to mean he did it on his own initiative.
One judge of a two-member Allahabad high court bench made hand written corrections to its own order to allow a medical college in Uttar Pradesh to admit students for 2017-18, show court documents in possession of HT.
The high court’s revised order on September 4 came eight days after the Supreme Court barred it from allowing the Lucknow-based GCRG Institute of Medical Science to admit fresh students for the academic session 2017-18.
The Medical Council of India (MCI), the country’s medical education regulator, had moved the top court against the high court’s revised order, passed three days after the original order.
“I am at my hometown right now to attend a puja. I will reach Lucknow on October 2. I will talk then,” justice Narayan Shukla told HT when reached on phone for his comments. The other judge, Virendra Kumar, refused to comment.
The original order of September 1, signed by both judges, had asked the MCI and the state government to allow the GCRG Institute to admit willing students “within the prescribed time frame”.
The SC had earlier set August 31 as the cut-off date for admissions to medical colleges in the country.
On September 4, justice Shukla made a correction by hand in the order to say, “the respondents (state govt/MCI) shall forthwith make available and permit the students willing to take admission in petitioner college (GCRC) within the prescribed time frame, ie, till September 5, 2017.
He signed the corrections with the remark, “corrected suo moto”, using a Latin term to mean he did it on his own initiative.
The GCRG college took the revised order to the directorate general medical education (DGME), Uttar Pradesh, which in turn called MCI officials to verify the sanctity of the order.
After MCI got a certified copy of the order, it approached SC for an urgent hearing.
“The SC got very angry and passed a direction to test the propriety of the HC’s order,” said Vikas Singh, a senior counsel who pleaded for MCI in SC.
Former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the college, admitted the judge committed a “minor impropriety” by correcting the order without hearing both sides. He, however, defended the high court. “The Supreme Court had asked the HC not to pass any interim order and the HC passed the final order. So I don’t think the HC did any wrong,” Rohatgi said.
The GCRG Institute was among 32 new colleges that failed inspections in 2016 by the MCI.
All 32 colleges approached the SC-appointed Lodha Committee which allowed them to admit the first batch on the condition that if they failed a subsequent MCI inspection, they would be barred from admitting new batch for the two next academic sessions and would lose their ₹2 crore security deposits. Barring two, all colleges including GCRG failed the MCI inspection.
The Lodha panel re-heard the matter and recommended to the Union health ministry to allow 23 colleges out of 30 to admit students. GCRG was one of them.
The ministry turned down the Lodha Committee’s recommendation on May 31.
The colleges again approached the Supreme Court which sent the matter back to the ministry directing it to reconsider and pass a reasoned order of disapproval in case of each college.
Unable to get a favourable order from the ministry, GCRG once again challenged the ministry’s order in the SC.
During the hearing, the college withdrew the matter with SC’s permission to approach the Allahabad high court. The SC, however, categorically said the HC would not pass any order which would allow the college to admit fresh student for 2017-18.
One of the most preferred career choices in India, the standard of medical education has deteriorated over the years, according to a parliamentary panel report last year. It said medical graduates lack competence in performing basic healthcare tasks like normal deliveries.
A section of private colleges allegedly hire doctors on rent to pose as full-time faculty members and fill beds with healthy people to pass inspections. There are 460 medical colleges in the country, 202 of them government-run.
Alleged corrupt practices by private medical colleges came under the spotlight after the CBI arrested a retired Odisha high court judge and five others in a separate case in which a medical college tried to influence judicial process to gain permission for MBBS admissions for 2017-18.