Delhi HC allows TN medical college to increase student intake in NEET-UG 2022 counselling

HC was hearing a petition by Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital in Tamil Nadu raising the issue of denial of a request for increased intake
Pic only for representational purpose (Pic credits: Express)
Pic only for representational purpose (Pic credits: Express)

The Delhi High Court has allowed Tamil Nadu colleges to increase the intake of students for NEET-UG 2022. It said augmentation of medical infrastructure was very important to meet the rising need for qualified doctors and deserving colleges must not be denied the opportunity to enhance the strength of medical professionals, as stated in a report by PTI. 

It delivered this observation while hearing a petition by Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital in Tamil Nadu raising the issue of denial of a request for an increased intake of students from 150 to 250. In this regard, in the ongoing counselling of NEET-UG 2022 for MBBS, the court directed the authorities to allow the college to take admissions of 250 students. Further, the college shall forthwith issue necessary directions and intimate the order to the competent authority/body of the Government of Tamil Nadu to add 250 seats to its seat matrix, the court added. 

Speaking on this, Justice Sanjeev Narula said, "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."

Following this, the plea sought 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. Speaking for NMC, advocate T Singhdev 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.

Contradicting this, the college counsel submitted that it would be a colossal waste of resources if permission is not granted as the institute is fully equipped to increase up to 250 seats. Further, he argued that the authorities are trying to deny this benefit. On the court's direction, the NMC filed an affidavit highlighting the deficiencies that, according to them, impede the grant of 250 seats to the college.

NMC's affidavit
The NMC in its affidavit acknowledged and confirmed that a 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.

Approval from MARB
In that context, the court said that under the scheme of the National Medical Commission Act, no medical college can increase its seats without obtaining prior approval from the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB). For the purpose of granting permission, MARB is entitled to conduct an assessment/ inspection of such colleges for evaluation of their performance vis-à-vis benchmarks set out in the law, it noted.

An interim order was confirmed on March 30, 2022, by the court and it upheld that the college was entitled to enhance its intake to 200 seats for the academic year 2021-22. With respect to the 2022-23 academic session, the court said since NMC's decision to deny an increase in seats in 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.

Moreover, the court said, 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. NMC's Chairperson is directed to inquire into the circumstances that have resulted in the filing of the additional affidavit with inaccurate facts, and take appropriate action, the court added, as stated in a report by PTI. 

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