New Delhi, April 12, 2022: While allowing the Appeals filed by the Central Council for Indian Medicine, the Supreme Court has referred to the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and clarified that previous permission of the Central Government is necessary in order to establish a medical college and open a new or higher course of study or training, including a post- graduate course of study or training.
The Division Bench of Justice L.Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R.Gavai affirmed that such sanction is also required to increase admission capacity in a medical college in any course of study or training, including a post-graduate course of study or training.
The factual background of this case was such that the Karnataka Ayurveda Medical College(respondent herein) had applied to the State Government, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (third respondent) and the Central Council for Indian Medicine (appellant herein) for permission to start Post-Graduate course for the academic year 2014-15. The appellant granted permission to start five new Post Graduate Ayurvedic disciplines with five seats each in accordance with the then prevalent Indian Medicine Central Council (Post-Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2012. These 2012 Regulations came to be superseded by the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post-Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016.
As per 2016 Regulations, it was a requirement that an institution should possess a Central Research Laboratory and an Animal House and so, the respondent-College collaborated with Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College of Ayurveda, Udupi, which permitted the College the usage of Animal House set up by it. As such, the appellant and the respondent-Union of India, continued permission to the respondent- College for the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18.
The Union of India directed the appellant to inspect the facilities available with the respondent-College in accordance with the relevant Regulations and submit its recommendations. This was to be done by the end of March 2018 so that the matter pertaining to grant of permission for the academic year 2018-19 could be considered before the start of the next academic year. The appellant inspected the facilities available with the College and issued a notice pointing out certain deficiencies.When an opportunity of hearing was granted, Union Of India rejected the permission to the College to admit students to the Post Graduate courses for the academic year 2018-19 on the ground of non-availability of Central Research Laboratory and Animal House but granted permission to admit students to Under Graduate (BAMS) Course with an intake of 50 seats for the academic year 2018-19 subject to it fulfilling the deficiencies mentioned therein.
In the interregnum, the Union of India granted permission to the respondent- College to admit students for the Post Graduate Course for the academic year 2019-20. When a writ petition was filed by the College before the Single Judge of the High Court of Karnataka, the Court allowed the said writ petition. The same was carried in an appeal by the present appellant before the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka, which was dismissed by the impugned judgment. Hence, the appellant-Council approached this Court by way of the present appeals.
Making a reference to the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970, the Top Court said, “The statutory scheme is thus clear that no medical college can open a new or higher course of study or training, including a post-graduate course, except with the previous permission of the Central Government. Prior to such a permission being granted, the procedure as prescribed under Section 13A has to be followed.”
The Court noted that Regulation 3(1)(a) of the 2016 Regulations specifically provides that the Ayurveda colleges established under Section 13A and existing under Section 13C of the said Act and their attached hospitals shall fulfill the requirements of minimum standard for infrastructure and teaching and training facilities referred to in the Regulations 4 to 11 up to 31st December of every year for consideration of grant of permissions for undertaking admissions in the coming academic session. So, it was clarified that in order to be eligible for grant of permission for undertaking admissions in a particular academic session, the institution must fulfill the requirements of minimum standard as on 31st December of the earlier year. On this basis, the Court held that finding that the permission granted for a subsequent academic year would also enure to the benefit of earlier academic year though the said institution was not fulfilling the criteria of minimum standard, was totally erroneous.
The Bench discussed the judgment of this Court in Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal and Another v. Union of India and Others wherein Shastra Seva Mandal had approached the Bombay High Court being aggrieved by the refusal by the Government of India to grant permission to the colleges to admit students for the academic year 2011-12. Such permission was refused on account of various deficiencies.This Court specifically noticed that a large number of students had applied for admission for the academic year 2011-12 and that too with the leave of this Court. However, this Court found that the privilege granted to the candidates could not be transformed into a right to be admitted in the course for which they had applied.
The Division Bench referring to this ratio opined that that in Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal’s Case (Supra), the contention that since the deficiencies stood already removed and the permission granted for the academic year 2012-13, the said permission should also be construed as having been granted for the academic year 2011-12, was not accepted by this Court.
Thus, holding that the Single Judge as well as the Division Bench had grossly erred in not taking into consideration the scheme of the said Act as also the judgment of this Court in Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal’s Case (Supra), the Apex Court allowed the Appeal.