Thiruvananthapuram: The managements of the self-financing medical colleges in Kerala except those of the Christian institutions would go for the best of both the worlds: they take whatever that’s favourable to them in court orders, laws, government orders or earlier practices and dump all those which are inconvenient to them. They have no compunctions in interpreting them in whichever way they find it comfortable. And there is no government machinery to check the tendency and put things back on the rail. The latest is the refusal of the managements to set up the scholarship fund for students from economically weaker students using the excess money sanctioned by the admission supervisory committee. In its order on July 13, the committee had said the fee for the NRI candidates for the previous year was Rs 15 lakhs per seat.
“This year, the medical colleges have proposed to increase the amount to Rs 20 lakh. The Committee decided to accept the increase of the amount of Rs 5 lakhs per seat and the above amount has to be kept as corpus for giving scholarship for BPL category candidates, as the interest of the poor and meritorious students also have to be protected by the committee. Therefore the Committee provisionally fixes the tuition fee for NRI candidates as Rs 20 lakhs.” The decision not to cooperate with the scholarship fund would put medical education beyond the reach of poor students. Some medical colleges had claimed that the committee headed by Justice Rajendra Babu had unilaterally proposed the scholarships without consulting the managements. “The present fee structure was based on the Supreme Court verdict which had not made any observation regarding the scholarship fund,” Mr Anilkumar Vallil, secretary, Kerala Private Medical College Managements Association, told Deccan Chronicle. “Hence, I do not think that the medical colleges are legally bound to set up a scholarship fund.”
The managements did not have the financial capacity to provide the scholarships because the government had converted 117 NRI seats into government quota seats. “This has resulted in huge financial loss to the managements,” Mr Vallil pointed out. Mr Vallil’s argument flies in the face of facts and court orders. The Supreme Court had fixed the fee for 85 per cents, leaving the 15 per cent for NRI students and had passed no order on their fee. Moreover, the managements collected the fee based on the order issued by the Rajendra Babu committee. MES president Fazal Gafoor is of the view that the decision to create the scholarship fund would not stand legal scrutiny. “It would amount to cross-subsidy,” he said. “The Supreme Court had already made it clear that any cross-subsidy can be introduced only through a mutual agreement with the managements.”
Dr Gafoor’s stand is at odds with what the Supreme Court said in the Inamdar Vs State of Maharaashtra case which first sanctioned a separate quote for the NRIs. In the judgment, the Supreme Court had clearly spelt out the rationale for reserving seats for the NRIs. “A limited reservation of such seats, not exceeding 15 per cent, in our opinion, may be made available to NRIs depending on the discretion of the management subject to two conditions,” the court said. “First, such seats should be utilised bona fide by the NRIs only and for their children or wards. Secondly, within this quota, the merit should not be given a complete go-by. The amount of money, in whatever form collected from such NRIs, should be utilized for benefiting students such as from economically weaker sections of the society, whom, on well defined criteria, the educational institution may admit on subsidised payment of their fee.”
Meanwhile, the Kerala Christian Professional College Managements Federation coordinator George Paul while welcoming the Justice Rajendra Babu committee proposal for scholarship said that it was the Christian managements which proposed the scholarship fund. “As per the proposal, an amount of Rs 5 lakh of the Rs 20 lakh each from fee for each NRI quota seats would be earmarked for the scholarship,” Mr Paul told DC. “The amount would be handed over to the government. The government can constitute the fund and identify the candidates for the same from BPL candidates or economically backward students. This is because we do not have the mechanism for identifying eligible candidates. The government can either identify 15 students from a college and provide the scholarship for the entire amount of the fee of Rs 5 lakh or identify 30 students from a college and provide half amount of Rs 2.5 lakh as scholarship.” The state government, however, has made no move on setting up the scholarship fund or to cajole the managements into taking a compromise route. “We have not taken up the issue yet,” an official in the health minister’s office told DC.
Fee committee says fund is mandatory
It is mandatory for the managements of the self-financing medical colleges to abide by the decision of the fee regulatory committee on the scholarship fund, according to committee chairperson Justice Rajendra Babu. The committee has the legal standing for proposing a scholarship fund. Action would be taken against colleges which violated its directive, he said. The committee would take steps to constitute the scholarship funds soon. The delay was because it was being formed for the first time this year and some time was required to complete the formalities. From next year, the scholarship funds would be formed earlier.
It may be recalled that the committee had earlier said that the medical fee for the NRI candidates for the previous year was Rs 15 lakh per seat. This year the medical colleges have proposed to increase the amount to Rs 20 lakh. The committee decided to accept the increase of Rs 5 lakh per seat and the amount has to be kept as corpus for giving scholarship for BPL category candidates. Therefore, the committee provisionally fixed the tuition fees for NRI candidates as Rs 20 lakh, according to the order.
No takers for 22 NRI seats in BDS
As many as 22 NRI seats in BDS courses in the self-financing medical colleges were changed into government seats as there were no takers for them in the spot admissions held at Sree Swathy Thirunal Government Music College auditorium, Thycaud, here on Friday. The vacant seats were in Pariyram dental college, Kannur, Azeezia dental college, Kollam, Sri Sankara dental college, Varkala, and Pushpagiri College of Dental Science, Thiruvalla.
All the BDS seats in every category were filled in other government and self- financing medical colleges during the earlier spot admissions held on September 2 and 3. Of the total of 26 vacant seats in NRI quota, only four candidates had come for the spot admission. Following this, the other seats were converted into government quota. With the completion of admissions to these seats, the allotments to BDS courses in the state have ended. Candidates who submitted the DD for the requisite fee alone were permitted to attend spot admission.
Supreme Court adjourns appeals of 3 medical colleges
The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned to Monday the appeals of three self-financing medical colleges whose admissions have been cancelled. Of the three colleges, Al-Azhar Medical College and Super specialty Hospital, Thodupuzha, has 100 seats and DM Institute of Medical Sciences, Wayanad, and Mount Zion Medical College, Pathanamthitta, 150 seats each. The advocate representing the MCI was not present in the court on Friday and, therefore, the case was adjourned. The court also sent notices to the MCI and the central government asking them to appear before the court and make stand clear.
The court had cancelled the admissions to these colleges following a petition filed by the Medical Council of India. The colleges had moved the High Court and got an order for admitting students. This was challenged by MCI in the Supreme Court. The Kerala University of Health Sciences had also denied affiliation to the colleges earlier as they lacked the required infrastructure, patient strength and faculty....