Systemic Corruption in PG Medical Counseling in Tamil Nadu

Central Government brought NEET PG exams for 2017 as per the directive of Supreme Court to bring quality assurance to the admission process in Post graduate courses in Tamil Nadu, including those in the Deemed universities. To bring transparency in the admission process, Medical council of India brought an amendment to the “Post graduate medical education regulations, 2000” , in which they directed the state government authorities in the various states to conduct counseling for the filling the Post graduate courses in the colleges in their respective states, including the private medical colleges in state universities  and deemed universities.

All the states in India have followed the MCI regulations and have issued notifications for conducting counseling for the medical colleges in their states. Based on the MCI notification, Selection Committee of Directorate of Medical Education (DME), Tamil Nadu government had issued the notification for counseling for Post graduate courses in Tamil Nadu private medical colleges and in Deemed universities. However, even though the Directorate of Medical Education (DME) is the authority conducting the counseling for the PG medical college seats, neither have they released the Seat matrix, displaying the PG medical seats available in various medical colleges in India nor have they displayed the fees structure of the various colleges they are conducting counseling for.

This is being done deliberately by the DME to facilitate corruption by the private medical colleges and the deemed universities for which they are conducting medical counseling, at the behest of the private medical colleges. While every other state which has conducted common counseling for the PG courses so far, like Karnataka, Maharastra, Kerala etc have done counseling by properly displaying the seat matrix and properly disclosing the fees structure to the students in their websites, Tamil Nadu’s DME has not yet released the Seat matrix so far nor has it released the fees structure. Seat matrix, which is the display of different PG medical courses available in the various medical colleges, is a very vital information needed by the PG aspirants for deciding the course they want to take. Instead, the DME, even though it is the counseling authority and is responsible for displaying such vital information, has directed the students to learn the details of PG seats available from the respective Private medical colleges and deemed universities website and has absolved itself of its responsibility. However, many of the Private colleges have not displayed such details in their website to facilitate confusion among students.

By hiding the seat matrix from the students, DME has made sure that students remain oblivious of the seat matrix in the counseling so that there is no transparency in the counseling and any corruption and malpractice in the allotment of seats remains obscured. Recently in Pondicherry counseling, the Pondicherry office which Conducted counseling CENTAC, had not released the allotted list of students for various medical courses along with their ranks, which is what any counseling body be it in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala  etc have done and is supposed to do. This was an obvious attempt by the CENTAC office to hide the malpractice and corruption in the counseling process by hiding the true merit list of the admissions. This is the plan in DME counseling too – to hide the seat matrix and allot seats as per their will, while taking bribes and for involving in corruption. States like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala etc conducted counseling online to facilitate transparency and prevent corruption by the counseling authorities, the supposedly rich and developed state of Tamil nadu is conducting counseling by antiquated face to face counseling method, where there will be no transparency and is ripe with malpractices and corruption- by not displaying the seat matrix publicly, not publishing the allotted list properly etc.

Further, states like Karnataka, Maharastra , Kerala etc had received the fees details from the colleges for which they are conducting counseling for and then displayed them in their respective websites well in advance of the counseling date/process. However, even this simply responsibility of the counseling body has not been discharged by the DME, which is conducting counseling in Tamil Nadu. Instead, DME has abrogated their responsibility to show the fees structure details of the colleges and have asked the PG aspirants to go look for the fees structure by themselves. This is again, a co-ordinated move by the DME along with the Deemed universities and the private medical colleges to involve in corruption by not being transparent about the admission process. By not displaying the fee structure, DME is absolving itself of the responsibility to enforce the admissions to the colleges for which they are conducting the counseling. For example, several medical colleges and universities like Sri Balaji Medical college in Bharat University haven’t released their fees structure and when the PG aspirants call the university to ask for the fees, they are not giving an answer and are simply refusing to disclose the fees.

As per the Supreme court order in W.P(civil) 244/2017 on 4/5/2017, the counseling authority which is conducting the counseling is supposed to take the Tuition Fees payment for the colleges to which they are issuing admission and forward that demand draft to the respective colleges. This was done to prevent the medical colleges from denying admission to the merit students who got allotment order from the counseling authority for various reasons, while showing to the authorities that the students dint even report to the college. This supreme court order itself implies that the counseling body is supposed to display the fees structure, since students are supposed to pay fees to the colleges only at the counseling body. So if the DME is not displaying fees structure, how will the students know how much amount to pay for the PG medical courses? This was a planned move by the DME to help Deemed universities to extract exorbitant fees from the students or deny admissions to them by arbitrarily demanding higher fees than what is shown in the university website. By not displaying the fees structure of the colleges they are conducting the counseling, the DME is absolving itself of the responsibility to prevent harassment of students in the name of extra fees or donation demanded by these Deemed universities.

This is what happened in Pondicherry counseling too. The CENTAC office in Pondicherry, in collusion with the deemed universities and private medical colleges there, did not announce the fees structure of the deemed universities there, just like DME here and instead directed the students to check with the universities. So when the students went to join the deemed universities with the Demand Draft for the fees as displayed by their respective websites, they were harassed for extra 40-60 lakhs than what they had displayed in the official websites(some of which have been removed now after the students started bring it up). For example, Aarupadai Veedu Medical college under Vinayaka Missions University, Salem, had demanded 15 lakh rupees per year extra per year amounting to 45 Lakh rupees, over the college fees they had displayed in their website. Mahatma Gandhi medical college, under Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth deemed university had asked for 12.5 Lakh rupees per year extra over and above the fees they had shown as their official website. This extra fee can be extracted under miscellaneous expenditures added by these colleges on top of the displayed fees.

When the CENTAC officials were questioned about this obvious malpractice and corruption, they simple denied being responsible for the fees of the deemed universities, because they themselves have been bribed by the private medical colleges. While it is true that they cannot “fix” the fee structure of the medical colleges they are conducting counseling for, they are in fact responsible for collecting the fees structure as fixed by the deemed universities before counseling and then publication of the said fee structure for the students and then “enforcing” that fees structure they had received from the private medical colleges. This is the reason why NEET-PG exams were even conducted – to bring in transparency and quality control to the medical education. By deliberately being lenient on the “enforcement of fees structure”(different from “fixing of fees”), CENTAC has made a mockery out of the merit based counseling and admission process.

This process of deliberate malpractice and corruption is now being copied into the Tamil Nadu Counselling too, by the DME- including not properly displaying the Fees structure inclusive of all fees, not properly seat matrix, direct personal counseling where mal-allotment and corruption is possible instead of conducting it online where the process is transparent. This should not be surprising to an astute observer, because many of the deemed universities and medical colleges in Pondicherry which engaged in horse trading and corruption in Pondicherry counseling also have medical colleges in Tamil Nadu also, like Vinayaka Mission Hospital, of Vinayaka Mission University, Sathya Sai Medical College of Sri Balaji Vidhyapeeth university etc.

On one hand, the Government of Tamil Nadu has given 200-300 marks extra to government doctors out of 1500 by deliberately mis-intrepreting High court order and MCI regulations in the NEET PG marks and has made sure that none of the non-government doctors can hope to get PG medical seat n government colleges inside Tamil Nadu. Out of the 700+ post graduate seats available in Tamil Nadu government doctors, TN government has allotted 700 seats to government doctors while only 7 non-government doctors have gotten any seat in Tamil Nadu counseling, even though majority of the government doctors, who got admission in the government college PG medical seats, have gotten lower marks than the non-government doctors, who couldn’t get any PG seat. It should be noted that majority of the non government doctors aren’t non-government doctors by choice. There is only 2700 PHC in Tamil Nadu while there are tens of thousands of Non government doctors in Tamil Nadu. Each year, TN government only fills 100 government vacancies in the hospitals, while each year more than 6000 doctors in Tamil Nadu apply for the vacancies. The government policy to give 200-300 extra marks out of 1500 for government doctors alone, in a exam like NEET where 1 mark can create a variance of 30-40 marks, is fully discriminatory and unjust against the 95% of the doctors inside Tamil Nadu, who cannot get a government service job even if they wanted to.

But on the other hand, DME of Dept of Health and Family welfare has now also made sure that counseling process for even private medical colleges is not conducted fairly and has produced a system to allow for massive corruption and malpractice in the counseling process. So in essence Tamil Nadu Government has destroyed the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands of MBBS students inside Tamil Nadu to do post graduate medical courses inside Tamil Nadu, even though in media and everywhere they pretend to care about the welfare of the Students inside Tamil Nadu and blaming the central government for implementing NEET. The truth of the matter is, NEET was introduced to curb such corruption by the private medical colleges and the Tamil Nadu government, having sold themselves to the private medical colleges, is using the pretext of helping the students to oppose NEET and oppose central government, while in reality, they are doing everything in their power to subvert the admission process to help the private medical colleges to extract exorbitant fees from the PG aspirants

The regulations for PG admissions stipulate that if the PG seats are vacant even after the 2nd round of counseling, it can be filled by the concerned institutions based on merit. So by indulging in open corruption during the counseling process, the private institutes want to scare away the merit students and instead sell the PG seats in the black market for 3-4 crores. Public has to think about what kind of doctors will be produced from such institutions.

Note: Since the publishing of this article, DME has released more information for TN colleges. So now the tuition fees of each college is being shown but not the total fee structure (charges under miscellaneous are hidden and colleges can manipulate that).

Author: A PG aspirant from Tamil Nadu.

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