When doctors mix with politicians, the results are diabolical. Loopholes in the law are exploited by the Union government to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) by the National Medical Commission (NMC) culminating in an institution known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) at Parel, in central Mumbai, to conduct medical exams awarding diplomas after MBBS. This is going on despite a Bombay high court order indicting the CPS in 2018 for continuing its courses in Maharashtra despite opposition from the MCI which is now defunct.
The CPS has defended itself by pointing out it is allowed to confer its diplomas under the Indian Medical Degrees Act, 1916 which has not been repealed, according to its president Dr Girish Maindarkar who runs a hospital at Latur and holds bona fide post-graduate qualifications apart from those of the CPS. Also, the National Medical Council Bill which the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has opposed, will be passed by Parliament between June 17 and July 26 to replace the scam-tainted MCI with another expert body known as the NMC which will have so-called eminent doctors selected and not elected by the government.
None of the fresh 69,800 MBBS graduates churned out by India’s 469 medical colleges are permitted to anaesthetise, remove an appendix, or do gynaecology or ultrasound procedures without an MD, MS or a Diplomate National Board (DNB) awarded by the National Board of Examiners under a central law which permits its holders to teach medical students. This is why these fresh doctors need to specialise to recover their parents’ money spent to become doctors.
After 15 years of teaching, DNB holders or those with MD or MS degrees can become examiners for medical colleges recognised by different universities. But those holding qualifications given by the CPS cannot teach medical students or become examiners. MBBS graduates who fail to get into specialities of their choice enrol in the CPS which has tie-ups with private hospitals and holds lectures at Parel.
Seven months back, the Agripada police arrested 58 doctors for holding bogus certificates awarded by the CPS although they had failed their exams. Dr Snehal Subaschandra Nyati, an MBBS from Nashik took Rs 6 lakh per doctor to hand over bogus certificates. But the CPS president, Dr Girish Maindarkar who is a former MCI member, said the signatures on these certificates were bogus.
The CPS was born in 1912 before its nemesis, the MCI was set up in 1934 and using this argument continues to award qualifications such as FCPS and MCPS apart from sundry diplomas which were derecognised by the MCI in 2009. Without being a charitable organisation, the CPS is registered under the charity commissioner as a society and is recognised by the Union ministry of medical education and Maharashtra’s department of medical education and research despite not being a university and not under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, 2005. This is a bizarre situation because only universities listed under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 can award degrees.
The now defunct MCI, informed the Union government that the CPS is not even a deemed university which prevented it from conferring medical diplomas or degrees. An MBBS graduate filed a petition in the Bombay high court in 2018, pointing out these anomalies which resulted in a two-judge bench comprising Justices S C Dharmadikari and Bharati Dangre asking how the government of India could continuously ignore the MCI’s opinion by recognising the CPS’ courses.
Both judges said the Union government continuously ignored the advice of the MCI not to recognise the qualifications of the CPS by including the CPS qualifications in the first schedule of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The MCI told the government this “so-called college (CPS) is nothing but a society. It is not a recognised university and not covered by the UGC Act, 1956…In view thereof, the CPS is not legally entitled to conduct any medical course as well as confer any degrees whatsoever. In any event, the degree (sic) granted by the CPS cannot be treated as a recognised medical qualification.”
The high court judges pointed out that the union health ministry’s notification dated 23/10/2017, violated and bypassed the UGC Act, which alone permitted universities listed on its website to award degrees. The government recognised CPS qualifications without it meeting minimum standards of teaching hospitals or seeking approval from the MCI.
Coming down strongly on the CPS, the two judges observed: “The two year diploma course conducted by the above institute (CPS) really throws the entire medical education into disarray. The history of medical education in India reveals the Union of India hardly cares for the opinions of expert bodies (like the MCI) and conveniently brushes it aside to accommodate some courses/ some institutions/ some colleges. If we go on permitting this, a day will come when a course of this nature and type will be conducted on a road side or on the pavement without any infrastructure.
We do not want MBBS doctors with qualifications such as DCH (CPS) attached to their names. We want the central government and the state of Maharashtra to file affidavits and disclose to the court how they will curb such tendencies. If a CPS diploma holder cannot teach any student, he cannot be termed an expert in any branch of medicine or surgery. He cannot be allowed to display such a qualification on his name plate,” the judges said.
But tragically, the government of India is thinking of allowing the CPS to conduct all diploma exams after MBBS in India. The future of Indian doctors seems to be in the hands of the CPS with assistance from both the Central and state governments for dubious reasons.
The writer holds a PhD in Media Law. He is a journalist-cum-lawyer of the Bombay High Court.