‘Depriving public of vital information’: Doctor complains to PMO, health ministry about NMC functioning

NEET Counselling 2023: Despite CIC’s order, NMC has not made medical college inspection reports public. These could help aspiring MBBS students.

‘Depriving public of vital information’: Doctor complains to PMO, health ministry about NMC functioning National Medical Commission (Image: Official Website)
Sanjay | Jun 7, 2023 - 3:59 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Doctor and activist Dr Mohamed Khader Meeran has written to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the union health ministry requesting the disclosure of infrastructure assessment reports of all medical colleges following the directions of the Central Information Commission (CIC). Having such assessment reports in the public domain will allow students to make informed decisions about medical colleges before the start of admission counselling, or NEET counselling 2023.

The letter was prompted by a fresh refusal from the National Medical Commission to make these reports public despite the CIC’s directing it to do so in March 2023.

Meeran has alleged that there are “growing concerns about the functioning and effectiveness” of the NMC in fulfilling its duties. He has raised questions on the shortage of resource allocation for assessing the infrastructure and educational standards of medical colleges. He also alleged that NMC officials have failed in ensuring transparency and pointed out that NMC officials have not disclosed their assets publicly as the regulations require them to do.

Meeran’s representation to the PMO and health ministry also seeks the removal of the NMC chairperson Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma and other officials, for “actions” that have allegedly “significantly compromised the public interest”.

Also Read | ‘Not even minimum transparency’: Doctor pushing NMC to make medical college reports public

NEET counselling and assessment reports

The infrastructure and faculty assessment reports of medical colleges were removed from the NMC website. These reports were routinely uploaded on the official website of the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI).

Despite the CIC order of March 28, 2023, while hearing Meeran’s application to disclose medical college assessment reports, the NMC has failed to comply. Within a week of this CIC order, NMC once again refused to share the current academic year (2022-23) assessment reports with Meeran who had filed an RTI application. NMC cited the “voluminous” nature of the documents requests as a reason for the denial.

“This denial raises concerns about the transparency and accessibility of crucial information related to the assessment of medical colleges. The NMC's failure to disclose these reports not only disregards the CIC order but also impedes the public's right to access important information regarding the quality and standards of medical education,” says Meeran’s representation “Despite the binding nature of the order, the NMC has not taken the necessary steps to proactively disclose these reports, depriving the public of vital information.”

Public medical assessment reports would allow aspiring MBBS students to make compare and assess before picking a medical college during admission counselling by the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) and respective state medical education departments. This process is popularly called “NEET counselling”. “It is imperative that the NMC promptly uploads the assessment reports for the upcoming academic year (2023-24) on its official website to facilitate an informed and transparent counselling process,” said Meeran, referring to NEET counselling 2023.

In response to NMC’s argument that it lacks the necessary resources to provide medical college assessment reports, Meeran pointed out that despite this, the commission is demanding live streaming of activities in every medical college in the country on a daily basis be made available to NMC for monitoring. In July last year, the NMC advised colleges to install a total of 25 CCTV cameras in the campus.

NMC officials, CCTVs, assets

NMC’s Minimum Requirements for Annual M.B.B.S. Admissions Regulations, 2020 state that, “The biometric attendance shall be made available on the Medical College Website in the form of daily attendance dashboard. The Commission may seek from the Medical Colleges/Institutions, such record of attendances during or after assessment.”

Meeran’s letter alleges that not a single medical college has had real-time biometric daily attendance dashboard on the college website since the publication of this regulation in 2020.

“Without ensuring this biometric attendance live dashboard on every medical college website, NMC was giving recognition to all these medical colleges over three years. This indicates that NMC’s current office bearers have failed miserably in ensuring the live dashboard system available on the medical college website in the past 3 years,” he said.

Also Read | NEET UG 2023 re-exam over for candidates of Manipur; know about result, counselling

NMC’s decision regarding the fixation of fees for 50% of private medical college seats is also currently under legal challenge. There have been reports of the NMC denying RTI applications without sufficient justification or explanation.

NMC’s current functioning has raised concerns about its lack of vision, foresight in anticipating legal challenges, and its effectiveness in regulating medical education and upholding the highest standards of professionalism in the medical field,” he said.

Section 6(6) of the National Medical Commission Act states that “The chairperson and every member of the commission shall make declaration of his assets and his liabilities at the time of entering upon his office and at the time of demitting his office and also declare his professional and commercial engagement or involvement in such form and manner as may be prescribed, and such declaration shall be published on the website of the commission.”

However, NMC office bearers have not disclosed their assets and details regarding professional and commercial engagement to date.

“The failure of any member or office bearer of the National Medical Commission (NMC) to disclose their assets on the NMC website since 2020 reflects a lack of willingness and commitment to fulfil their legal obligations as mandated by the NMC Act. This raises concerns about transparency and accountability within the NMC, as the disclosure of assets is a crucial step in ensuring ethical conduct and preventing potential conflicts of interest,” he said.

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