New Delhi: While responding to a recent RTI application seeking medical college assessment reports for academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has denied furnishing the relevant documents.

The application had been filed by an RTI activist, Dr Mohammed Khader Meeran and replying to it, NMC said that “the information sought is very voluminous and scattered in various files” and that “it would disproportionately divert the resource of MARB (Medical Assessment & Rating Board) of NMC”, reports TOI.

In fact, the assessment reports posted by the erstwhile Apex Medical Body, the Medical Council of India (MCI), have also been removed by the NMC. 

Although meeting minutes are on the NMC website, the assessment details are not available.

With the unavailability of assessment reports, students are now unsure about what kind of infrastructure these medical colleges are claiming to offer upon admitting the students.

While a record number of 50 new medical colleges opened in 2021 since the onset of pandemic, several complaints of ghost faculties in private medical colleges and allegations of mass faculty transfer before NMC inspection were being reported.

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The importance of the college assessment reports lies on the fact that these reports reveal the date of inspection, the names and designation of the inspectors including the experienced medical faculty from government medical colleges along with their comments and findings. These reports also reveal the details of the infrastructure including the inpatient and outpatient load, number of beds in the teaching hospital and the college, and also the department-wise total number of faculty in an institute. 

Previously MCI had already uploaded the assessment reports of around 550 medical colleges approved till 2021. However, after NMC replaced MCI back in September 2021, it removed those reports. Therefore, even though NMC website lists 612 medical colleges with an intake capacity for 91,977 MBBS seats, it has not revealed the assessment reports of the 550 old medical colleges and around 60 new ones. 

Therefore, filing the Right to Information (RTI) application, Dr Meeran sought the college assessment reports. Besides, seeking clarification in this regard, he also sought to know from NMC about the minutes of any meeting conducted by the Apex Medical Body, where the decision for not uploading assessment reports had been taken.

Apart from this, Dr. Meeran also requested NMC for a copy of any policy regarding the decision of not disclosing the college assessment reports.

Responding to these queries, NMC clarified that no such decision was taken any it had not received any order/direction or advisory from the Health Ministry for removing the assessment reports.

Referring to the RTI reply, Dr. Meeran told the Times of India, “The MCI, which was labelled corrupt and non-functional, used to post the reports of assessments of infrastructure and faculty done according to minimum standard requirements each year.”

While commenting on the issue, a retired professor of a government medical college informed TOI, “”Not uploading assessment reports shields such substandard colleges with inadequate faculty and infrastructure. They just want to claim more colleges have been opened and that more MBBS seats have been created. It is a numbers game, quality be damned. In the case of private colleges, getting approval without adequate infrastructure or faculty is a windfall as they charge exorbitant fees from students. Usually, approval is given for 100-150 seats. Even at Rs 15 lakh per annum as tuition fees, the college gets to collect Rs 15 crore to Rs 22.5 crore from the first batch.”

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