Medical education isn’t free from corruption

CBI is set to probe a scam involving admissions in MBBS in Uttar Pradesh Combined Medical Entrance Test 2015 for private unaided medical colleges allegedly in connivance with officers of Medical Council of India, reports Pawan Kumar Bansal

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has finally referred the scam of manipulating of admissions in MBBS in private unaided medical colleges of UP held in 2015. Sting operation conducted by Delhi-based journalist Surender Singh Hooda coupled with clinching evidence of manipulation has virtually forced the Ministry to go for CBI probe in the issue.

For admissions in MBBS in private unaided colleges of UP for 2015-16, combined medical entrance was conducted by Uttar Pradesh Unaided Medical Colleges Welfare Association (UPUMCWA), which is a consortium of unaided non-minority medical colleges in the state. The exam conducted by this body was fraudulently manipulated to favour undeserving students and the regulating authority Medical Council of India has failed to regulate the fairness of said examination.

Now the Central government has decided to refer the issue to CBI to investigate the deliberate negligence and illegal gratification of MCI officials. Confirming this, Amit Biswas, Under Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told Tehelka that complainant in the case, a Delhi-based journalist Surender Singh Hooda, has been informed about the decision of handing over the case to CBI. Surender Singh Hooda who had conducted a sting operation and has been pursuing the scam in various forms including courts told Tehelka that he was hopeful that country’s premier investigative agency CBI will catch the culprits.

Surender Singh Hooda had represented to Health and Family Welfare Ministry on January 10, 2019, along with merit list of students admissions list of KD Medical College, Mathura, and other 11 medical colleges alleging discrepancy in names and merit number of candidates admitted the four medical colleges in two lists, submitted by the college and UPCMET, in support of his allegations. He had further alleged that this is only tip of iceberg and, there is discrepancy in names and merit number of candidates admitted in all the private unaided medical colleges of the state under entrance exam UPCMET-2015.

Hooda has pleaded that since this is the biggest ever exposed MBBS admission scam of the country hence it, needs proper attention of the Government of India and needs immediate CBI investigation. Hooda told that during sting operation of admissions procedure at KD Medical College in Mathura, he got the evidence of discrepancies in the process of admissions test for 2015-2016.

Armed with the admission procedure details, Hooda had even filed a petition in Delhi High Court seeking CBI probe into the alleged manipulations and corruption in functioning of UP unaided Medical Colleges Welfare Association that had conducted the entrance exam for admissions in MBBS.

Hooda told Tehelka that in last year he sent another representation to Board of Governors of MCI with more proofs adding that after analysing it, the MCI board had referred it to Preeti Sudan, Secretary, government of India , Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, stating the issue requires in-depth investigation by multiple agencies, which is out of the purview of the Council, therefore, it is recommended that this matter may be handed over to appropriate investigation agency.

Even after repeated representations with evidence, Ministry of Health and Family welfare was reluctant to hand over the matter to CBI allegedly due to clout of private unaided medical colleges’ owners’ powerful lobby. So Hooda shot another letter on 24 th January,2019 with copies to Chief Vigilance Commissioner to Preeti Sudan, Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare requesting for C.B.I probe to save the reputation of Ministry and M.C.I. Hooda also mentioned the observations of Board of Governors of M.C.I that since it requires in depth investigation of multiple agencies , which is out of the purview of the M.C.I, therefore it is recommend that this matter may be handed over to appropriate investigation agency.

Warning the Health Ministry bosses, Hooda wrote, “His sources have informed him that Health Ministry is trying to dilute the issue by referring it to the Secretary, Admission and Fee regulation Committee, Lucknow and to Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare govt. of Uttar Pradesh. If it is done then it will be automatically presumed that Health ministry officers are under tremendous pressure of the powerful lobby of unaided private medical colleges. Hence to save your reputation, hand over the case to CBI.”

Hooda said that he is anxiously waiting for start of investigations by CBI adding that he will provide all evidence to the agency. Hooda told that thousands of students had appeared in the exam and were cheated.

Modus operandi

The process of admission to KD Medical College, Mathura, for the academic year 2015-16 was allegedly farce, unethical and not in accordance with the rule of merit. Hooda said he came to know through his sources that the college authorities started the process of admission. Needless to say that no relation of his was intending to take admission in any medical college in the country.

He went to the premises of the college on September 30, 2015, and found that there was lot of gathering in the campus and he inquired about as how to get admission for MBBS course.

There Hooda also saw a vehicle having the word High Court written over the number plate. This he believes was done to impress the admission seekers that there was a legal authority watching the process of admission. With lot of coaxing for admission he was directed to go to a Counseling room where three persons were present. He was told that two were the sons of Chairman, out of which one was Vice-Chairman.

He does not know the identity of the third person. There was another person who took him to the Counseling Room. The discussion which happened with him and these persons was recorded by him and audio recording was played before the Monitoring Sub-Committee of MCI held on December 28, 2015. He had also sent it on the official email ID of the then Secretary-in-charge, MCI and both members of Monitoring Sub-Committee of MCI. This audio depicts the conversation for fixing the capitation (fee for admission) for the admission of student.

Hooda was asked to pay 30 lakhs in cash to the persons sitting in Counseling Room. They asked him to deposit the money by 5 PM on September 30, 2015. On finding that he could not bring the money till 5pm, he was told to deposit money in Delhi itself. On his inquiring that whether a student is admitted or not they assured that the student is deemed to be admitted, however, he can come for the test on October 3, 2015. The last day of MBBS admissions is September 30 each year.

On December 28, 2015, he submitted before both the members of Monitoring Sub-Committee of MCI that to the best of his knowledge the process of the admission and its merit followed by UP Unaided Medical Colleges Welfare Association was not as per the Schedule given by their advertisement that is date of online/offline filling of forms was November 15, 2014, and the date of entrance examination was May 30, 2015. He also submitted that in their advertisement they had clearly specified that the candidate should send their application form in the envelope bearing the number of the application form, addressed and should be sent by registered post /speed post. It was highlighted that application forms sent through courier or submitted in person shall in no case be entertained.

He told the Sub-Committee of MCI that since he could make the admission without any application form in person after the date of the examination which clearly smells of a scam of admissions in that institution for which he requested an appropriate probe by the CBI.