The National Medical Commission (NMC), which regulates around 600 medical institutions in India, has allegedly violated a deadline fixed by the Supreme Court for inspection of colleges, part of a process to streamline medical education in the country and also weed out any scope of malpractice in the highly-competitive sector.
In 2016, the apex court had fixed May 31 as the last date by which the regulator had to complete the process, including processing applications for establishment of new medical colleges, and increasing or decreasing seats for under-graduate and post-graduate courses.
Several medical colleges Outlook spoke to confirmed that the NMC’s inspection continued way beyond the deadline.
At least two emails by Outlook to NMC officials remained unanswered. Outlook has written to NMC secretary Anjula Jain and chairman Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma. After several attempts one call to the chairman on his office landline was answered by his PPS Nayan Mishra. “Chairman sir is very particular about emails and he reads every email very carefully. He must have read it. If he hasn’t reverted, I don’t know why,” Mishra told Outlook.
NMC was formed in September 2020 after the Centre dissolved the earlier regulatory body, the Medical Council of India.
The Supreme Court had, for the first time in 2005, worked out a time schedule for the inspection. It revised the deadline in 2016 to May 31. The Medical Council of India had failed to stick to the SC-mandated time schedule in 2020 due to the pandemic but it had sought approval of the court for extending the deadline.
However, the NMC, is yet to file an application to seek permission from the court to extend the time schedule for 2020-21 and 2021-22. Legal experts say violation of time schedules may invite contempt proceedings.
“Legally, the NMC should have filed an application in the Supreme Court before the time schedule expired and sought an extension but it didn’t do that. If any of the concerned parties move the court in a contempt petition, NMC officials might get into trouble,” an advocate dealing with medical education matters said requesting anonymity.
Dr (Major) Gulshan Garg, orthopaedic surgeon and chairman of Sankalp Charitable Trust, on whose petition the Supreme Court had implemented National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) in 2016, say that the court had sought to inject discipline in the academic calendar and directed all concerned to strictly adhere to the time schedule.
“Any violation would invite proceedings against the defaulting party. Observance of time schedule ensures completion of entire exercise from the declaration of results, counselling, admission and grant of permission within the prescribed schedule leading to transparency in the system and accountability of all stakeholders,” Garg said.
He added, “I am not surprised if corruption and role of money might have crept into the system and that could be the reason why NMC, instead of going to the court to seek instruction, is doing things in an illegal manner.”