May 09, 2010

'Faulty' colleges got MCI stamp

Under its tainted boss Ketan Desai, the Medical Council of India (MCI) granted recognition to many medical colleges ignoring serious irregularities such as fraudulent faculty.

On Saturday, Desai, arrested by the CBI last month in connection with a Rs 2 crore bribe for permitting a medical college in Punjab to admit students despite lack of infrastructure, resigned from Ahmedabad's BJ Medical College.

During his tenure, the MCI allegedly closed its eyes to many an irregularity, reveal documents accessed by Hindustan Times.

Take the case of Santhiram Medical College in Andhra Pradesh. During an MCI inspection on May 24, 2008, one of the faculty members on the records was Dr Nagaraja Rao, of the department of forensic medicine. College authorities furnished his documents to MCI inspectors including his appointment letter and salary slips. The papers said Rao was residing on campus.

Only, Rao had been dead for years.

MCI secretary ARN Setalvad refused comment on the story, saying the council had authorised vice-president Dr PC Kesavankutty Nayar to talk to the media. Efforts to reach Nair on his cellphone and his residence in Kerala proved futile.

The Rao case was probed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Official communication between the MCI and CVC is in HT's possession.

In May 2009, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, too, intervened.

Still, the college was granted permission for that year by the MCI's executive committee headed by Desai and no inquiry initiated to verify credentials of other faculty members.

MCI rules say a new college has to be given permission after an inspection every year for the first five years. It is at such inspections that many private colleges produce fake documents and cover up crucial irregularities. While the MCI inspectors can only state facts; the final decision lies with the Council's Executive Committee headed by Desai.

During another inspection at Andhra Pradesh's Vikarabad Medical College in 2009, a student was found to be posing as a faculty member. He posed as Dr Xavier R Packianathan, a radiologist who moved out of India five years earlier. The college still got its permission.

Another document reveals at least seven doctors were proven to be fakes by the Tamil Nadu Medical Council (TNMC) in October 2009.

Official communication between the MCI and the TNMC — a copy of which is with the HT — confirmed that the medical registration certificates of the seven were "forged and fabricated".

Many such colleges, however, still got permission. MCI's own records for 2009 state that at the time, there were 325 'medical teachers' alleged to have submitted fake documents during inspections.

In fact, an MCI ethics committee noting states that the steps taken by the Council under Desai had been "cosmetic in nature".

Link: Original Article

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