The Madras High Court on Friday declared nine post graduate distance education courses offered by the Tamil Nadu Dr M G R Medical University as “illegal and ultra vires” as they did not have the approval of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the central government. Justice S S Sundar of the Madurai bench also asked the state-run university to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh to the secretary of the education department, who was directed to use the money for improving the infrastructure in government schools.
The court allowed a petition by secretary of the Doctors Welfare Association of Tamilnadu Dr K Srinivasan against the courses, including post graduate diploma in Palliative Medicine and MD Family Medicine. The judge said the high court and also the Supreme Court had already unambiguously held that the state government or the university cannot offer parallel courses without permission from the MCI and the Centre.
The apex court had ruled that the regulations of the council were binding and mandatory. The public would be misled to believe such unrecognised diploma-holders were experts. Hence, in public interest the writ petition is allowed, the judge said. The university had issued the impugned advertisement for conducting the distance education programme in utter disregard to the directions of the courts under the guise of a decision taken by the governing council of the university.
The conduct of the university in this matter, in flagrant violation of previous judgements, was condemnable, the judge said. The petitioner said the university’s February 11, 2018 advertisement offered five one-year courses and four two-year courses under the distance education programme. It was also stated in the advertisement that courses did not have MCI’s approval.
The university contended that the distance education programmes were not illegal or contrary to the Indian Medical Council Act as they were offered as per the governing council order issued on May 12, 2010.
The courses were offered to the MBBS degree holders to develop skills and update knowledge and overcome scarcity of experts in such fields and to fulfil the medical needs and treatments for patients, it said. The MCI, supporting the case of the petitioner, said neither the state government nor the university can introduce or offer parallel courses in medicine. There cannot be a provision under the state act to override the central legislation and offer courses without permission, it added.