What is Medical Council of India bribery scam?

By: Nabeela Khan

Published on 5th, February, 2018

The medical admission scam hit the national headline last year when the CBI arrested a retired judge of the Orissa High Court and five others for allowing blacklisted private medical college Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences to enroll students despite a ban by the Supreme Court. The case is now in the Supreme Court and is one of the major issues which have divided senior most judges over petitions seeking an independent investigation into corruption charges involving the medical college.

It was in June 2017 when the Medical Council of India (MCI) investigated and recommended banning of 46 colleges including Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences citing substandard facilities and non-fulfilment of the required criteria. The colleges have also had to pay a security deposit of Rs 2 Crore each.

After inspecting the Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, the MCI report said that there was deficiency of faculty (52%), shortage of residents (54%) and there was no patient in ICCU.  The report further said there is no nursing station, examination room, pantry, store room, duty room, demonstration room inside the wards. 

The Prasad Institute and other medical colleges challenged the government's decision in the Supreme Court to debar it from admitting students for medical courses. In August last year, a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra directed the Centre to review its order to debar medical colleges it found having sub-standard facilities.

But the government refused to lift the restriction.

As per court documents it was then the Prasad Institute got in touch with a retired judge from Orissa high court Ishrat Masroor Quddusi to secure a favourable judgement.  According to the CBI FIR BP Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust contacted Justice Quddusi through another person identified as Sudhir Giri of Venkateshswara Medical College of Meerut. The CBI FIR says they "entered into a criminal conspiracy for getting the matter settled.”

The CBI finally arrested justice Quddusi and five others for allowing Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences to enroll students despite a ban by the Supreme Court.   Justice Quddusi is now on bail. The CBI provided evidence of corruption which included transcripts of alleged telephone conversations between justices Quddusi, middleman Vishwanath Agarwala, alleged hawala operator Ramdev Saraswat and B P Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust.

As the matter was again in the Supreme Court, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms filed a petition in the apex court seeking setting up of an independent probe by an SIT headed by a retired chief justice of India. 

The petition was admitted by justice Chelameswar and an order was passed to set up a constitution bench of five senior most judges of the Supreme Court for hearing the petition seeking probe by an SIT.  The petitioner, however, contended that CJI Dipak Misra should not be on the constitution bench as he was on the bench that dispensed the case in the past. 

It was the constitution of a bench by Justice Chelameswar that had stirred a hornet’s nest in the Supreme Court, with the Chief Justice cutting short the hearing of a Constitutional bench to overrule the order of Justice Chelameswar. He went on to reconstitute the bench, and asserted his powers as ‘master of the roster’.

The story took another turn when at an unprecedented press conference on January 12 last year, when four judges - the most senior of the court's 25 judges after the chief justice - circulated a letter accusing Chief Justice Misra of assigning important cases selectively to benches "with no rationale", implying that he had sought to influence the outcome.

Meanwhile Chief Justice Misra has set up an in-house inquiry committee to look into allegations of corruption against a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court Justice Narayan Shukla in the Medical Council of India case.  The CBI alleges that justice Shukla has made hand-written corrections on September 4, 2017, to his own bench’s order of September 1, so as to allow the Prasad Institute to admit students.