Kerala approves bill to regularize MBBS admissions, move to benefit 180 students

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: PTI

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: The Kerala assembly on Wednesday approved a bill to regularize MBBS admissions, which had previously been deemed illegal by two official panels, apart from the Medical Council of India.

The Kerala Professional Colleges (Regulation and Admission in Medical Colleges) Bill 2017 will benefit about 180 students of two colleges—Kannur Medical College and Karuna Medical College.

Both are private colleges based in Kannur and Palakkad districts, respectively. The students had secured admissions in the 2016-17 batch.

The passing of the bill comes a week after the Supreme Court asked the state government to stay the ordinance, which paved the way for the current bill.

The ordinance has been challenged by the Medical Council of India in the Supreme Court.

The matter is expected to come up for hearing again on Thursday.

On 28 March, the Supreme Court rejected a review petition filed by the state government to invalidate cancellations of the admissions in these two colleges as per a 2016 Kerala high court order.

The high court had found that the colleges were not transparent about their admission procedures and cited the scuttling of chances of meritorious students in favour of those who were not as the grounds for the cancelling admissions.

The state government, however, got near unanimous support in the state assembly on Wednesday to pass the bill, reported regional news channels.

Congress member V.T. Balram’s protests against the bill were overruled by a leader from his own party, Ramesh Chennithala.

Last week, both chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and health minister K.K. Shylaja, who oversees the admission process, said the logic behind the bill was humanitarian considerations to save the academic life of innocent students penalized for probable technical errors of the management.

“There is no connivance between the government and Opposition. There are no glitches in the bill. The bill is not for protecting vested interests,” Chennithala was cited as saying by the website of regional newspaper Mathrubhumi.

The admissions were first set aside in October 2016 by an official panel headed by retired Justice J.M. James.

On 27 March, newspaper Deccan Chronicle reported that another official, who was tasked with advising on whether to regularize the disputed seats had recommended against the regularization.

Based on documents obtained using Right to Information, the newspaper report said that the official’s findings included profiteering in the seats by these colleges, which is illegal in India.

The government then asked the law department to take a look at the situation, which came up with a report favouring regularization.

The government decided to follow the legal opinion of the law department.

On 31 January, the state cabinet agreed to regularizing the seats in the two colleges after fining them at a rate of Rs3 lakh per student for irregularities in the admission process.