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To Establish an off-Campus Centre, One Needs To Follow Necessary Guidelines Given by the Institute of Eminence: Jharkhand High Court

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This writ petition was filed on 06-11-2020 for quashing the notice given by the office of ADG(ME), Government of India, Directorate General of Health Services, Medical Counselling Committee (MCC), New Delhi. Further, Petitioner no.1 Manipal Tata Medical College has been removed from the counselling process of UG Seats in the conduct of the NEET 2020 Examination.

Facts of the Case

There is a timeline of events that happened in the case. Petitioner no.2, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and Respondent no.7, Tata Steel Ltd made a confederation to establish a medical institution at Baridih, Jamshedpur. On 28-06-2019, The Department of Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare, Government of Jharkhand issued an essentiality certificate. On 01-07-2019 Petitioner no.2 issued an application to the Secretary-General, Board of Governors, stating the establishment of a new medical college at Baridih, Jamshedpur with an intake of 150 MBBS Seats for the upcoming academic year. With a letter dated 04-10-2019 stating that the no-objection certificate has been granted by the Department of Higher, Technical Education, and Skill Development, Government of Jharkhand for the development of the off-campus centre. Further, on the inspection done and the report given by the Board of Governors, Medical Council of India there were some insufficiencies found and for the same, they were redressed. Further, on the 9th & 10th September 2020 the BoG appointed a valuer who can make a compliance assessment report on certain legal documents including infrastructural facilities provided by the college. Also, Bank guarantees the required total amount of 24 crores in favour of the Medical Council of India. Letter of Permission was also issued by the BoG. Manipal Academy of Higher Education got the Institute of Eminence (IoE) status by the Ministry of Education, Government of India under the UGC Regulations, 2017. On 09-10-2020, Petitioner no.2 registered the college with Medical Counseling Committee, and information about the seats was uploaded on their official website. On 16-10-2020, Petitioner no. 2 applied for the establishment of an Off-campus centre. On 28-10-2020, Medical Counseling Committee conducted NEET 2020 Examination. Further, on 06-11-2020, ADG(ME), Government of India removed Petitioner no.1 from the first round of counselling of UG Seats held in pursuance to the NEET-2020. Then, Petitioner no.1 wrote a letter to Petitioner no.2 informing that it is no longer governed by UGC, 2019 rather UGC, 2017, and therefore, the application can not be processed. 

Arguments by Petitioner

Learned Counsel stated that the institution has been declared an IoE by notification dated 14.10.2020 and no regulation other than Regulation 2017 will apply to it. Also, Petitioner no.2 was not aware of the notification dated 14.10.2020 and it applied for an Off-campus centre on 16-10-2020 under regulation 2019. Further, Petitioner no.2 was an IoE from date 14.10.2020 so it doesn’t require any permission from UGC Regulation 2019 for the establishment of an Off-campus centre. Learned Counsel further submitted that according to section 14(3) of the NMC Act, 2019 that the Commission shall specify the manners of conducting common counselling by the designated authority for admission under UG and PG seats at all medical institutions by framing regulations, so they can’t remove petitioner no. 1 from the counselling of UG Seats. The power of the Secretary of NMC is clearly defined under Section 8(4) the Act, 2019, and so on its illegal to ask respondent no.3 to remove Petitioner no. 1 from counselling. Learned Counsel submits that Petitioner has invested 69 crores to date will rise to 250 crores in the next two years. Further, the said institution has been spread up to 20 acres of land and other infrastructural facilities of which has been cleared by the Medical Counseling of India by granting LoP dated 24-09-2020.

Arguments by Respondents

The Learned Counsel stated that on the issue of opening of an Off-campus centre by the IoE necessary amendments in Regulations, 2017 have been brought by the UGC Regulations, 2021 while provided inter alia the procedure to be followed for granting permission to IoE for establishing an Off-campus centre. So on it was stated that there is no illegality by the letter dated 11.06.2020. Mr Sinha further added that Manipal Tata Medical College, Jamshedpur, and Data Meghe Medical College, Wanadongri, Nagpur shouldn’t be included in counselling of NEET-UG 2020 as there are problems for the off-campus establishment. Counsel Mr Laxman Kumar stated that Petitioner no.2 was required to submit a detailed fifteen-year strategic plan and a five-year rolling implementation plan. 

Court’s Observation

As per the Court’s observations, an off-campus establishment can’t have the right to continue unless it maintains the requirement to be fulfilled by it. The Petitioner no.2, the said institute must complete the required targets to survive, or else the institute will be called as an ordinarily deemed institute and also will be removed from IoE. Empowered Expert Committee should check regularly on the given targets if they are achieved or not.

Court’s Decision

The writ petition is disposed of on three points:

(1) The notice issued by the Office of ADG(ME), Govt. of India, Directorate General Health Services, Medical Counselling Committee on 06-11-2020 is quashed and set aside.

(2) Special Leave to Appeal is confirmed where petitioner no.1 took admission of the MBBS students because of the order dated 20-11-2020

(3) The Petitioner should make an application under Regulation 11.7.1 of the Regulations, 2021 for getting post facto permission for the establishment of an off-campus centre.

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