After a long tussle with the Union Health Ministry and written undertakings from state chief secretaries, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has restored the 4,700 seats in government medical colleges across the country that it wanted to scrap.
However, the MCI continues to disagree with the ministry over restoring 3,000-odd seats in private medical colleges. With the ministry going to the Supreme Court, the court last week asked the MCI to submit “compliance verification reports” on these colleges by July 31.
According to the ministry, the seats in government colleges were cleared in the second week of July, and not giving consideration to seats in private colleges, which have submitted compliance reports on objections raised by MCI, amounts to discrimination.
The ministry is peeved at what it considers “frivolous” objections raised by the MCI. “Most of the deficiencies listed in the MCI’s reports are about problems with air-conditioning, partition walls in buildings and, of course, shortage of faculty. But although most of the colleges have complied with the MCI’s demands, there has been no acknowledgement,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
“This is the first time that the number of MBBS seats is set to go down, which is against the stated policy of the government. When there is already a demand-supply gap in medical seats, this can only make matters worse. Our stand is that the MCI has time to even do a physical verification of these colleges, because admissions do not start before September 1,” said a Health Ministry official. The SC had earlier set June 15 as the deadline for the MCI to send its recommendations on medical seats, while July 15 was the last date for approvals. The ministry has held that if the MCI has cleared the seats in government medical colleges, then its contention that the deadline cannot be violated does not hold.
In a letter to MCI chairperson Jayshreeben Patel, Health Secretary Lov Verma said the council should ask the SC to extend the deadlines. But MCI chose to ignore the letter.