New Delhi: The Supreme Court appointed three member Oversight committee, headed by former Chief Justice R. M. Lodha, is facing criticism of overlooking some very serious discrepancies of the medical system, pointed out by the MCI, during its yearly approval inspections.
A few of the MCI pointed discrepancies range from a college with 100% shortage of resident doctors; a hospital functioning without a medical superintendent and a student enrolled in three medical colleges in the same academic year.
So seriously have the observants taken against the decision Lodha panel that a petition has been filed by Vyapam whistleblower, Anand Rai, challenging the decisions taken by the Justice Lodha Committee to grant permissions to new medical colleges without due alertness.
According to whistleblower Rai, medical colleges with the above stated discrepancies have been given recognition by the OC, flouting all reservations expressed about them by the MCI.
The Hindu in its assessment of the allegations, cited the example of three colleges — Hi-Tech Medical College & Hospital, Rourkela; Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences, Indore and Dr. Somervell Memorial Mission Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram — which were debarred from admissions due to a two-year investigation carried out by the MCI, for putting up ghost faculties. The three medical colleges have been granted permission over the last few days by the Lodha Committee to admit students for the academic year starting in September.
Besides the above,two others- Sakshi Medical College, Guna, MP & Saraswati Medical College, Unnao, Madhya Pradesh, have also been granted recognition. This has been done despite they having admitted to the MCI earlier, that they were not able to make up for the addressed drawbacks and were therefore, not ready for any further checks.
To add fuel to fire, Maheshwara Medical College in Andhra Pradesh has been found with a 100 % shortage of resident doctors, while the NC Medical College had a missing Superintendent.These discrepancies were also MCI discovered ones.
The Lodha Committee’s decision of granting of recognition to private medical colleges, indeed seems to have opened a Pandora ‘s box of controversy, as the relaxation would be opening 6000 MBBS seats and 60 super speciality seats to students for the current academic year. According to many, if the colleges were with false undertakings it would debar them from accepting students for the next two years, jeopardising innumerable medical careers.
Dr. Rai a day after of his PIL filing said,” The Lodha Committee was formed to oversee the functioning of the MCI and not completely take over it. Further, without any physical verification of these colleges, the OC [oversight committee] has granted permissions based on the information provided on the websites of these colleges. The Lodha committee has been easy on private medical colleges by extending them the same privileges given to government medical colleges. Government colleges educate poor students at nominal fees, which is why the State extends them privileges. They cannot be compared to private colleges. I am challenging every recommendation made by the Lodha committee. If they want to completely overthrow the MCI, they will have to amend the Act in the Constitution before they do so.”
Justifying the Lodha Committee decisions Justice lodha said that the OC committee after going through the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report of March 2016 had come to understand that medical education and profession in the country were both at their lowest. The corruption and decay within the MCI, leading to a total system breakdown.
Answering criticisms on relaxation of recognition guidelines for private medical colleges , Justice Lodha said, relaxations were accompanied by stringent conditions and therefore, were in the best interest of medical education in the country.
“We have strictly discharged the mandate given by the Supreme Court. We had directed the MCI to undertake physical verification of these colleges but, unfortunately, they did not do it. They thought OC’s directions were not binding despite a clear order from the court that the OC will oversee their functioning. Our order is self-explanatory. It is premature to assume that students’ academic career will be affected. We have put stringent conditions like bank guarantee and undertakings from Dean etc while granting recognition and these will compel the colleges to make up the deficiencies. We have tried to make more seats available and we have done what we thought was best for medical education in the country,” said Justice Lodha.