The Centre has banned 32 private medical colleges from taking admissions for two years. Notably, the union healthy ministry took this decision after overruling a Supreme Court panel that had cleared their alleged substandard facilities.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the ministry also forfeited the colleges’ security deposit of Rs 2 crore each. But it has allowed 4,000 undergraduate students to continue studying at these institutes.

The report quoted Arun Singhal, Joint Secretary, Health and Family welfare as saying, “We based our decision on the inspection report which highlighted gross deficiency of facilities. But the decision will not impact the students who are already studying in these colleges.”

Over the years, undergrad medical studies in India have always been in controversy. An increase in the number of private colleges to meet growing demand has led to widespread corruption and a fall in the quality of medical education in the country.

In May 2016, the Supreme Court appointed a three-member Oversight Committee (OC), headed by former chief justice ML Lodha, to check alleged corruption at the Medical Council of India (MCI). The MCI  regulates such studies, and suggest ways to improve standards.

By the time the court panel was constituted, the MCI had completed inspecting 109 new colleges that had applied to admit medical students in 2016. The MCI allowed only 17 colleges. However, the panel reviewed the MCI’s decision and permitted 34 more colleges to take in students.

The panel allowed these colleges based on an “undertaking” from them that they will fulfill all criteria.

After inspections, the Oversight Committee and MCI visited these colleges between November and December and found them “grossly deficient in basic facilities”.

Now the union health ministry has decided to ban these private medical colleges. The students who are currently studying in the colleges fear that the ban will discourage colleges from improving facilities, impacting their studies.