HC allows TN med college to increase intake in NEET counselling

The high court's observation came while dealing with a petition by Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital in Tamil Named raising the issue of denial of request for increased intake of students from 150 to 250.
HC allows TN med college to increase intake in NEET counselling

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has said augmentation of medical infrastructure was crucial to meet the rising need of qualified doctors and deserving colleges must not be denied the opportunity to enhance the strength of medical professionals as it allowed a Tamil Nadu college to increase intake of students for NEET-UG 2022.

The high court's observation came while dealing with a petition by Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital in Tamil Named raising the issue of denial of request for increased intake of students from 150 to 250.

It directed the authorities to permit the college to take admissions of 250 students in the ongoing counselling of NEET-UG 2022 for MBBS course and added that they shall forthwith issue necessary directions and intimate the order to competent authority/body of the Government of Tamil Nadu to add 250 seats in its seat matrix.

''To meet the rising need of more qualified doctors to serve the country's population, augmentation of medical infrastructure is crucial, and hence, the role of regulatory bodies like NMC (National Medical Commission) is unquestionably significant. The authorisation procedure must indeed be strictly adhered to ensure that there is no decline in the quality of medical education," Justice Sanjeev Narula said.

The plea sought a direction to the NMC to issue a letter of approval with respect to the college's application for 250 students per year from the academic year 2021-22.

Advocate T Singhdev, representing the NMC, submitted that a surprise inspection of the college was carried out by the commission and the college's request could only be processed for 200 seats.

The counsel for the college submitted that the institute was fully equipped to increase up to 250 seats and it would be a colossal waste of resources if permission for the same is not granted.

He argued that there was a deliberate attempt on the authorities' part to deny them this benefit.

On the court's direction, the NMC filed an affidavit highlighting the deficiencies that, according to them, impede grant of 250 seats to the college.

In its affidavit, the NMC acknowledged and confirmed that relaxation of up to five per cent on faculty strength is applicable to the petitioner college, however, it contended that if existing facilities available with the institute are to be considered for 250 seats, faculty deficiency would substantially increase from 0.49 per cent to 6.9 per cent, which is beyond the permissible limit of five per cent.

The high court said under the scheme of National Medical Commission Act, no medical college can increase its seats without obtaining a prior approval from the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB).

For the purpose of granting permission, MARB is entitled to conduct assessment/ inspection of such colleges for evaluation of their performance vis-à-vis benchmarks set out in law, it noted.

"Indeed, in matters of medical education, it is not for the court to sit in appeal over deductions of an expert body in respect of insufficiencies found in an educational institute; but when it is demonstrated that respondent-authorities have acted in defilement of extant rules, it is incumbent upon the court to step in and rectify the injustice so caused," it said.

The court confirmed an interim order of March 30, 2022 and held that the college was entitled to enhance its intake to 200 seats for academic year 2021-22.

Regarding the 2022-23 academic session, the court said since the decision of NMC to deny increase in seats is ex-facie based on irrelevant considerations and in ignorance of relevant materials, it is a fit case for this court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution and issue a writ of mandamus compelling performance of the discretion conferred upon the NMC in order to prevent injustice to petitioner.

"Since no other impediment has been brought forth, in the facts of the case, directing NMC/ MARB to re-inspect the petitioner college is not required as it fulfils all parameters established under extant regulations. Accordingly, the present petition is allowed…," the high court said.

The court said "though Singhdev has very ably assisted the court, the attitude exhibited by NMC remains highly questionable".

"Instead of assisting the court, the additional affidavit filed pursuant to directions of the court has presented non-existent deficiencies, based on false and erroneous facts, in an attempt to deny the college the relief it is entitled to, under law.

"The NMC must not lose sight of its responsibility to maintain accuracy of facts/ information presented to the court. Having regard to the circumstances noted above, the Chairperson of NMC is directed to inquire into the circumstances that have resulted in filing of the additional affidavit with inaccurate facts, and take appropriate action," it said.

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