The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a PIL seeking the quashing of three orders by the Justice Lodha - headed Oversight Committee for allegedly arrogating to itself the powers of the central government while granting approval to 25 new medical colleges.
The court also declined the plea by petitioner Anand Rai who had sought the quashing of another two orders by the committee by which it renewed the permission to existing colleges to take fresh students with more seats and recognising new medicine courses in these colleges.
A bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageswar Rao said that the in view of the fact that counselling for admission to medical colleges has commenced on September 3, they were not inclined to interfere.
However, the bench permitted Rai, who had sought the quashing of the orders passed by the Oversight Committee on August 11, August 12 and August 13, to approach it with the suggestions which would be considered by it.
The top court by its May 2 order had set up a three member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India, Justice R. M. Lodha, and comprising former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences Director Shiv Sarin to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India including its statutory functions and vetting of all its policy decisions as it took a dim view of its working.
On Tuesday, the court also allowed the MCI to withdraw its application seeking the quashing of three directions passed by Justice Lodha committee with permission to file a substantive petition to challenge them.
At the outset of the hearing, Rai, who is credited with exposing the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh, told the court that doctors that would be produced by these medical colleges would only be "Munnabhais", referring to the popular Sanjay Dutt film.
Rai, who is a practising medical doctor working with Madhya Pradesh government, told the court that a good number private medical colleges were in a pathetic condition bereft of every facility starting with absence of trained manpower, teaching faculty and including the medical equipment.
Appearing for him, senior counsel Parag Tripathi told the court that the committee was overstepping its brief by exercising powers which were in breach of the statutory provisions and its own mandate, and passing orders which fell within the domain of the central government.
Urging the bench to direct the live video recording of the facilities, manpower including that of faculty at 25 medical colleges which were approved, he said that the committee could supervise the working of the MCI but couldn't arrogate to itself powers that rested with the central government, which alone who had final word in the approval of medical colleges.
Appearing for the MCI, senior counsel Vikas Singh assailed the three orders passed by the Oversight Committee saying that they were in violation of the MCI Act and the regulations.
"MCI is governed by law and not by someone who thinks law should be other way, " he said, citing the "whimsical ways" the committee was functioning both in breach of law, its mandate and the judgments of the top court.
However, another senior counsel Amarender Sharan, appearing for a medical college, defended its decisions oand pointed to various reports by the expert committee and also by the parliamentary standing committee pointing to not so positive acts of the MCI which regulates the medical profession in the country.