May 02, 2010

Medical degrees of TN university - Vinayaka Mission's offshore campus void: HC

Refusing to give its stamp of approval for the medical degrees awarded by the Salem-based Vinayaka Mission University’s off-shore facility in Thailand, the Madras high court has declined to direct the Medical Council of India to conduct screening test for 21 ‘medical graduates’ from the Bangkok campus.

A division bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice KK Sasidharan, allowing a writ appeal filed by the Union health ministry’s National Board of Examinations, said: “The government of Thailand has not given permission to the deemed university to establish their off-shore campus in Thailand. Similarly, the Medical Council of Thailand has not given any kind of permission or recognition to the deemed university, agreeing to honour the degree awarded by them and to enable the students to register their names in Thailand...”

The deemed university invented a novel method to open an overseas campus at Thailand, on the basis of a memorandum of understanding with Rangsit University of Bangkok. Though the MoU did not have any no-objection certificate from the government of Thailand or recognition from that country’s medical council, the Vinakaya Mission admitted 21 students against the ‘sanctioned’ intake of 100 students. As the students completed the course in 2009, the university approached the authorities seeking permission for its students to write the screening test and to start internship here. After a single judge allowed the plea, an appeal was filed by the National Board of Examinations.

The judges, noting that they would not do anything that would dilute the standard of medical profession for the ultimate sufferers would be the general public, said the Centre’s nod for the Vinayaka Mission to start an off-shore campus was not a blanket permission to conduct medical course there. Pointing out that the permission was not unconditional, the judges said the deemed university was mandated to meet several conditions, including recognition from that country and application of MCI rules.

The judges said the deemed university was not able to furnish any certificate from the Thailand government or the medical council there despite several adjournments, and added: “The deemed university has not produced even a scrap of paper before the MCI or before the NBE to justify their contention regarding recognition in Thailand.”

Citing the MoU between Vinayaka Mission and Rangsit University of Bangkok, the judges said, “Strangely, none of these letters contains a statement that Thailand has permitted Rangsit University to allow an off-shore campus of a foreign university on their campus or that the medical degree which would be awarded by Rangsit was a valid degree in Thailand.”

Describing the MoU as private dealings between two private universities, the judges said, “The views expressed by the MCI and the board cannot be brushed aside so lightly.”

Educational matters require consideration of authorities and it is not within the province of courts to sit in the armchair of educational authorities and exercise their statutory powers, the judges observed, ruling out any positive direction in favour of the deemed university.

Link: Original Article

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