Taking serious note of the inspection report of the National Medical Commission (NMC) of a college in Maharashtra which had all “hale and hearty” children in the paediatric ward and medical records including the blood pressure of patients of a future date, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the admission of 100 MBBS students till further orders.
The top court directed the NMC to conduct a fresh surprise inspection of the college by the officers of Professor rank from AIIMS and Maulana Azad Medical College here within two months to see whether it complied with required norms or not.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Aniruddha Bose, which had earlier likened the college to the movie ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’, said that it had earlier set aside the order of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court and had remanded the matter back but it again reaffirmed its earlier findings.
“Prima facie at this stage it appears that the finding of the High Court with regard to the lack of the authority to issue an order for stoppage of admission does not appear to be correct in view of the provision of section 25, 26 (F) of the National Medical Commission Act. We accordingly order and direct that the operative direction contained in paragraph 37 of the impugned order of the High Court, permitting the institution to admit 100 MBBS students for the academic year of 2021-22 shall remain stayed, pending further orders”, the bench said in its order.
The bench noted that the court is apprised of the fact that after the judgement dated March 4 of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, a notice of show cause has been issued on March 7, 2022, by the NMC.
“The medical college is show caused as to why the recognition which was granted by letter dated July 14, 2021, and the permission to start post-graduate courses should not be withdrawn”, the bench noted.
It said that in the meantime, the college has been directed to stop admission in pursuance of the deficiencies which were noticed during the course of inspection which was conducted on January 14 and 15, 2022, with immediate effect.
The bench said that the High court has accepted the inspection report of the NMC panel but allowed the students to continue, which will seriously prejudice their future down the line.
“We cannot allow this situation to occur. The High Court has accepted the inspection report. A balance has to be made not in favour of the institution but in favour of the students. This kind of order causes serious prejudice. We have to protect the interest of the students otherwise six months down the line when the permission is withdrawn they will be nowhere. High Court has overstepped. In the earlier round, we set aside the order and sent it back to the High Court and it reaffirmed its own finding”, the bench said.
Senior advocate Nidesh Gupta, appearing for the medical college Annasaheb Chudaman Patil Memorial Medical College, which is situated in the Dhule district of Maharashtra, said that they had already made the admissions and students are studying there.
“Allowing the appeal of the NMC would seriously jeopardise the interest of the students”, he said.
The bench said, “Just understand where the medical education is going to go. You had healthy children in the paediatric ward, who were brought in without any ailments and by the evening they all went back to their homes. The nurses on January 14, had records of January 16 onwards what the blood pressure would be of patients and what other blood parameters would be. This is completely doctored data which was produced by the college”.
The bench said that there were so-called patients who had their registration numbers 11111.. and 66666… and all the patients were healthy.
Gupta said that the inspection was carried out on holiday and the officials who came to inspect were not from a random pool.
“This college has been running for the past 30 years and had the same infrastructure but now they have problems with it. The real problem is that now a new trustee has come who had an association with the opposition party”, he said.
The bench said that what it could make out from the inspection reports after reading between the lines, it appears that the college had prior information about the surprise inspection but it did not get time to prepare itself, and hence healthy children were brought in, who left by the evening.
On February 14, the top court said it is like a Bollywood movie ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ moment where patients in the wards were “hale and hearty” and “no serious in-patient was found in paediatric ward”.
The NMC told the top court that permission for admission of additional students was cancelled as there were no operation theatre and no X-RAY machines in the college besides other deficiencies.
The top court had then set aside the orders of the Aurangabad bench and asked it to consider afresh.
It had noted that the medical college, which was established in 1992, has an intake capacity of 100 seats for the MBBS course.
The top court earlier noted that on January 14, 2022, a surprise inspection was conducted, and based on the report of the inspection, on January 19, 2022, the NMC withdrew the letter of permission for an increase in the intake capacity and directed stoppage of admission for 2021-2022.