V.N. PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATIONAL TRUST (1ST respondent) vide letter dated 30.8.2015 submitted an application for establishment of a new medical college from the academic year 2016-17 to the competent authority of the Central Government and the said application dated 30.8.2015 was forwarded by the Government of India to the appellant, Medical Council of India (MCI) vide letter dated 23.9.2015. After initial scrutiny of the application, MCI noticed that the Essentiality Certificate issued by the Government of Kerala in favour of the Trust was not valid as the same was not in accordance with the format prescribed by the Establishment of the Medical College Regulations, 1999 (the Regulations) of the MCI. Regard being had to the nature of the Essentiality Certificate and the decision of Supreme Court in Royal Medical Trust (Registered) and another v. Union of India & another [2015 (10) SCC 19], the MCI decided to recommend to the Central Government to disapprove the application submitted by the Trust for establishment of a new medical college commencing from the academic year 2016-17. The Government of India vide its letter dated 4.11.2015 called upon the Trust to appear before the Committee on 16.11.2015 to explain its stand. As the said respondent failed to appear before the concerned Committee on the date fixed, the matter was decided ex parte.
As the factual score would depict, the Trust being aggrieved by the issuance of an invalid certificate by the State of Kerala and disapproval of its scheme for establishment of a new medical college from the academic year 2016-17 approached the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam in Writ Petition (C) No. 35705 of 2015. The learned single Judge vide order dated 25.11.2015 issued the following directions: In the light of Ext. P1 renewal application and the renewed Essentiality Certificate, this court is of the vie that petitioner’s application for establishment of new Medical College shall not be rejected on account of any deficiency existed in the renewed certificate. In the meanwhile, there shall be a direction to the third respondent to pass appropriate orders on Ext. P6 within ten days. Post after two weeks.
Thereafter the learned single Judge took note of the fresh directions were issued as per the order dated 16.12.2015:
The petitioner is an educational agency . They applied for establishment of a medical college. The original Essentiality Certificate issued by the State Government suffered from defects as it was not in the required format. Based on the interim order , the petitioner’s application for Essentiality Certificate kept pending before the Central Government and the State Government was directed to consider the application for fresh revised Essentiality certificate. Now it is submitted that the petitioner has obtained a fresh Essentiality Certificate and it has been submitted before the first respondent. Therefore the first respondent shall consider the application and take a decision after hearing the petitioner and do the needful in accordance with the law.
Dissatisfied with the aforesaid order, the appellant preferred Writ Appeal No. 96 of 2016. It was contended before the Division Bench that pursuant to the order passed by the learned single Judge, the Central Government on 23.12.2015 had asked the MCI to review the recommendation but the said direction was not possible to be adhered to on account of the time schedule fixed pertaining to such matters. It was also urged that the letter of intent had to be issued by the Central Government on or before 15.1.2016 and sufficient time was not available for taking further steps in the matter. Additionally, it was argued that as per the time schedule, MCI was required to give the recommendation to the Central Government for issue of letter of intent by 15.12.2015. The Division Bench, after noting the submissions, passed following order:
5. Though it is argued by the learned counsel for the appellant that the time schedule could not be changed, still the Central Government has sufficient power to extend the time schedule to a certain extent and when the Central Government had requested the MCI to consider the application in terms of the letter dated 23.12.2015, we do not think that this court should interfere in the matter at this stage of the proceedings.
6. As far as the judgement is concerned, the learned Single Judge had only directed the Central Government to consider the application of the petitioner and take a decision after hearing them. That process has already been completed and Annexure A2 dated 23.12.2015 has been issued by the Central Government.
Against the judgement of the High Court special leave petition was filed. The Supreme Court accepted the appeal, set aside the judgement and order passed by the High Court.
The operative part of the judgement read as under :
On a perusal of the Essentiality Certificate dated 1.8.2015, it is obvious that it is a conditional certificate. The said fact has been reiterated by the appellant-MCI vide its communication dated 19.10.2015. A conditional certifies cannot be regarded as the requisite Certificate inasmuch as the conditions which are essential to the certificate are required to be fulfilled. On the basis of such a certificate, the MCI was not expected to approve the application submitted by an educational institution. It had clearly communicated that the prescribed format stipulates that adequate clinical material as per the MCI norms “is available”. Thus, the availability has to be in praesenti but not to be a condition to be satisfied at a later stage.
The application for grant of approval was filed with the Essentiality Certificate which was a conditional one and, therefore, a defective one. It was not an Essentiality Certificate in law. In such a situation, the High Court could not have directed for consideration of the application for the purpose of the inspection. Such a direction, we are disposed to think, runs counter to the law laid down in Educare Charitable Trust [JT 2013 (14) SC 381] and Royal Medical Trust [JT 2015 (8) SC 10]. We may further proceed to state that on the date of the application, the Essentiality Certificate was not in order. The Schedule prescribed by the MCI, which had been approved by this Court, is binding on all concerned. MCI cannot transgress it. The High Court could not have gone beyond the same and issued any direction for conducting an inspection for the academic year 2016-17. Therefore, the directions issued by the learned single Judge and the affirmation thereof by the Division Bench are wholly unsustainable. TTTTTTT
Consequently, the appeal is allowed and the judgements and orders passed by the High Court are set aside. It will be open to the Trust to submit a fresh application for the next academic year in consonance with the provisions of the Regulations of the MCI and as per the time Schedule; and in that event, it will be considered appropriately. In the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.
Authorities relied upon : 2015 (10) SCC 51.
Reference : Supreme Court. Medical Council of India v. V.N. Public Health & Educational Trust & Ors., civil appeal no. 3964 of 2016.