Chennai: After a long wait, 150 MBBS students at defunct Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Medical Sciences (PRIMS) have finally gotten relief; since the Madras High Court has ordered the state government to shift them to any of the 22 Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) in Tamil Nadu. In a case of shortage of places at the GMC, the court directed the state government to take necessary approval from the Medical Council of India (MCI) for MBBS seat increase
The decision of shifting these students was taken by the state government after noting the lack of facilities for clinical practice and lab studies at the newly founded medical institute, PRIMS.
The students had requested the authorities to shift them to the state-run medical colleges contending that there is a chance that the private medical colleges may face a similar condition as PRIMS and if they get accommodated there, their studies might suffer again.
In view of all the submission laid during the course of arguments since a few months, the HC has recently passed the order directing the state to send a proposal to the Medical Council of India (MCI) to accommodate the MBBS students of PRIMS, within two weeks.
Medical Dialogues had extensively reported about the MBBS students, who moved HC seeking the transfer from PRIMS. According to these students, who were admitted in the first year MBBS course during 2016-17 under the government and management quota after passing NEET, the medical college was started from the 2016-17 academic year after obtaining approval from the state and central governments and MCI.
It was mentioned before the court that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare debarred the college from making MBBS admissions for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as it had failed to rectify the ‘deficiencies’ pointed out by the MCI earlier.
In view of that, the state government informed the court that on 3rd October, the Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan had written a letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary Preeti Sudan seeking its concurrence for shifting 150 second year MBBS students of PRIMS to the other self-financing private colleges, since the GMCs were already overloaded.
On this, the HC had directed the state government to apprise the Centre as well as MCI of the vacant seats available in different private colleges and how the 150 MBBS students could be accommodated over there.
The counsel for the students stressed that all the MBBS students have to be accommodated only in GMCs since there is an apprehension that some of the private medical colleges may also face the same problem like PRIMS in future and the students will be in trouble. In addition, if all the MBBS students are to be accommodated in private medical colleges, then the approval of the apex medical council is necessary.
Throughout all the hearing sessions, the state reiterated its submission that it was not possible to accommodate the present 150 MBBS students in GMCs as in compliance with the earlier HC order, the government had shifted about 144 students of Anna Malai Medical College and Hospital to various government colleges last year only.
While abiding by the HC’s earlier order, the state has taken consent from the MCI for its decision of transferring the MBBS students to private medical institutes and has received its approval for the same.
Later, the HC directed the state government to inform the court as to whether it could accommodate the students in the Junior Batch of 2nd-year students studying in GMCs as the students had already lost a few months of their studies.
One batch was a senior batch and they had already started doing their second year. The second batch was a junior batch and they started doing their second year only from October 2018 onwards.
The Hindu reports that although it was contended that there were no vacancies in GMCs, but Justice T Raja directed the state government to obtain necessary approvals for increasing the number of seats from the authorities concerned and then accommodate the MBBS students by spreading them out to various government colleges.
The judge stated,
“MCI on receipt of said proposal shall take a decision and forward the same to the Board of Governors in Supersession of MCI within one week thereon…
… The Board of Governors shall take a decision within a period of one week from the date of receipt of the decision of the MCI and forward the same to the ministry of health and family welfare…
… The MOHFW shall pass necessary orders increasing the number of seats in government medical colleges and approve the accommodation of students of Ponnaiyah medical college in the 23 government medical colleges, functioning in the state of Tamil Nadu.”
Deccan Chronicle adds that PRIMS was directed to return all the original certificates to the students forthwith. The students were required to file an affidavit that they shall pay the fees fixed by the fee fixation committee applicable for private medical colleges every year.
“The state government shall take steps for appointing adequate faculty members and also providing sufficient infrastructure facilities and bed strength”
Further, the bench directed MCI to encash the bank guarantee furnished by PRIMS and give the same to the state to enable it to provide sufficient infrastructure facilities and appoint faculty members.
On the issue of private medical colleges not having enough infrastructural facilities to accommodate students, the bench observed that the students cannot be shifted to these colleges and should be accommodated in GMCs only. The bench had stated,
“In the case of self financing medical colleges who have come forward to accommodate the students admittedly indicated that they do not have sufficient infrastructure facilities, bed strength and adequate faculty.
In view of this reason, the arguments by additional advocate general that all MBBS students of defunct Ponnaiyah medical college should be distributed in self financing medical colleges will prove fatal to the future career of the students”