To get admitted into a school or college, prospective students pay a certain fee. But what about those students who got admissions illegally?
In the wake of an ongoing investigation into a judicial nexus in illegal medical college admissions, the Supreme Court directed a Lucknow-based college on Thursday to pay Rs 10 lakhs each to 150 students as compensation and sternly admonished a bench of the Allahabad high court for permitting the admissions.
The court asked the college to refund the admission fee paid by the students and slapped a fine of Rs 25 lakh to be paid to the SC registry. It also barred the college from admitting students for the next academic year of 2018-19.
Not mincing words while pulling up the division bench of the Allahabad HC for allowing the institute to admit students in violation of its order, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it was a case of “judicial indiscipline and impropriety”.
“It is most unfortunate, which may cause [an] institutional problem,” the bench said. The lawyers appearing for the medical council said that the High Court failed to consider that the college had poor infrastructure, clinical material and faculty.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh and lawyer Gaurav Sharma, appearing for the Medical Council of India (MCI), told the bench that the HC allowed admissions even though the college didn’t have formal permission from the Centre and failed to consider that the college suffered from deficiencies in infrastructure, clinical material and faculty. Moreover, the HC ignored the earlier SC order restraining any interim order in this regard.
The apex court said the HC bench had virtually overruled the SC order, transgressing all rules and regulations. “It is most unfortunate, which may cause [an] institutional problem,” the bench said and hinted that it may address the issue on the administrative side.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the college, said the institution should not be punished for the HC’s wrong verdict but the bench remained firm.
A bench of the Allahabad HC was recently in the news after the CBI arrested a retired judge of the Orissa HC, I M Quddusi, for allegedly conspiring to facilitate a favorable order for a college run by Prasad Education Trust — also a Lucknow-based institution. Quddusi had earlier served in the Allahabad HC.
The SC’s order assumes significance in view of allegations of a middlemen-judges nexus for getting favorable judgments in cases of medical admissions. The CBI arrested Quddusi and five others for allegedly conspiring to “settle” an MCI order debarring a private medical college from MBBS admissions. The case exposed the rot and corruption in medical education.
Quddusi has been accused by CBI of offering “legal guidance” to the promoters of the private medical college on how to get around the admission ban and even promising suitable orders from the apex court.
Investigating agencies have also lodged an FIR against two IAS officers serving in Puducherry — former health secretary B R Babu and Narendra Kumar, who headed the committee on admissions to medical colleges — for allegedly denying admissions to deserving students and selling seats to others at “exorbitant” rates.
Coming down heavily on GCRG Memorial Trust, which runs the college in Lucknow, the bench said it had illegally admitted students and jeopardized their careers. Quashing their admission, the bench said the college must compensate them for playing with their careers and “polluting young minds” by admitting them in violation of the law.
The case came under the scanner in September when one judge of a two-member Allahabad high court bench made hand written corrections to its original order to allow the medical college to admit students to MBBS course for 2017-18.
In the current case, the court had earlier passed an order restraining the HC from issuing any interim order pertaining to the academic year 2017-18. The HC, however, went ahead and allowed the college to admit students for the current session, drawing the SC’s ire.
“We really fail to fathom the manner in which the high court has misconstrued our order and passed the final order for 2017-18. We are issuing notice only to test the propriety of the order and also if the institution is eligible to get the renewal of letter of permission for 2018-19,” the bench had said while entertaining an appeal filed by MCI.
In its petition, the MCI also highlighted various irregularities, pointing out that the HC had originally passed an order on September 1, signed by both judges allowing the GCRG Institute to admit willing students “within the prescribed time frame”.
On September 4, one of the two judges, Narayan Shukla, made a correction by hand in the order to say, “the respondents (state govt/MCI) shall forthwith make available and permit the students willing to take admission in petitioner college (GCRC) within the prescribed time frame, ie, till September 5, 2017.
He signed the corrections with the remark, “corrected suo moto”, using a Latin term to mean he did it on his own initiative.
The GCRG Institute was among 32 new colleges that failed inspections in 2016 by the MCI.