A decision to install CCTV cameras at medical colleges has snowballed into an ethical controversy at the Patliputra Medical College Hospital (PMCH) in Dhanbad, with female MBBS students insisting that such an action would violate their right to privacy.The students explained that they learn about various organs, including private parts and their functions, in anatomy and physiology classes. “If CCTV cameras are installed in classrooms, we won’t feel comfortable clearing our doubts with teachers on any subject,” one of them said on the condition of anonymity. “Such an action would be unethical. In anatomy classes, we are given male and female bodies to study organs and their functions. There is complete privacy, and discussions are conducted freely because there is nobody but students and a teacher present. Footage from CCTV cameras will be accessible to people outside the laboratories, and they will be in a position to play mischief,” the student added.However, PMCH principal Dr Arun Kumar said he was “helpless” because the CCTV equipment has been installed in pursuance of Medical Council of India (MCI) directives. “The council clearly stated that cameras should be installed in classrooms, laboratories, lecture halls, demonstration rooms, practical rooms and several other locations across the campus,” he elaborated.The directive also specifies that all activities in the campus be captured through CCTV cameras, and later screened live in the principal’s chamber. This was to ensure that the MCI was kept up to date on academic activities at the institution.“We have to keep the council informed about classroom interactions, besides daily engagements between students and faculty members,” Kumar said, adding that they have no option but to adhere to the MCI’s directives.Students, however, said the management should at least try to get surveillance equipment removed from their anatomy and physiology classes.The other two state-run medical colleges in Jharkhand – the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) at Ranchi and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital (MGMCH) at Jamshedpur – are yet to install CCTV cameras.An MCI spokesperson said the decision to install the cameras was taken in February, at a meeting of state members. “They all strongly recommended the installation of cameras in classrooms. Around 100 medical colleges will be covered in the first phase,” he added.