|MEDICINE AND LAW: OPINION
|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 295-298
Is a university competent to confer a “Recognized” medical degree or diploma in India
D Samuel Abraham
Legal Section Department, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Web Publication||17-Nov-2017|
D Samuel Abraham
Senior Legal Advisor, Legal Section, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu - 632 004
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
There have been several legal enactments in the Indian legal system that were put into force with the intention of standardizing and regulating medical education and the conferring of medical qualifications. There is a common misunderstanding that a medical degree or diploma is recognized or is legally valid if it is provided by a university. However, from a legal standpoint, while Indian Universities may provide medical education courses, they are not fully competent and cannot independently confer a degree/diploma on their own, unless they have obtained sanction from the Medical Council of India and Central government. No medical professional can suffix the name of the Diploma/Degree/Certificate after their name in the business card or seal if they are not approved by both MCI and Central Government. The issue of a Medical Degree or Medical Diploma by a University without the approval of the Central Government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) will be incomplete and invalid legally.
Keywords: Code of Ethics Regulation 2002, Indian Medical Degree Act 1916, Recognized Medical Degree, The Indian Medical Council Act 1956
|How to cite this article:|
Abraham D S. Is a university competent to confer a “Recognized” medical degree or diploma in India. Curr Med Issues 2017;15:295-8
| Introduction|| |
It is a common misconception among Indians from their British educational background that if a certificate/diploma or degree is conferred by a university created by a state/central statute, it is a “recognized degree/diploma” for all purposes. This is because the state or union is empowered to create a university by a law as per the provisions of the Constitution of India. But, now we will be surprised to know that universities in India cannot confer such degrees and diplomas or certificates independently but are subject to many conditions which are beyond their control.
In other words, Indian universities are fully competent and can independently confer any degrees/diplomas/certificates in all branches of sciences and arts except in allopathic medical practice. In a true sense, they are not fully competent to confer a degree/diploma on their own, without sanction from the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Central Government. This issue has arisen because there have been medical institutions which are willing to accept the additional medical qualifications of a doctor (degree/diploma/certificate) which have “university recognition” without realizing that these qualifications are at par with and are not superior to qualifications provided by any private institution from a legal standpoint.
Let us see the legal provisions prevailing in India for a better understanding of the matter which may erase from our minds the wrong belief about medical education and practice.
| Legal Provisions Regarding Medical Degrees|| |
There have been several enactments that were put into force with the intention of standardizing and regulating medical education and the conferring of medical qualifications. Historically, the first act of a ruling government in the matter of authority to confer a medical qualification and start educational courses in modern medicine was the Indian Medical Degree Act of 1916, enacted by the then British government. This legal act stated that no state or individual university had the authority to confer a medical qualification in modern allopathic medicine without the sanction of the Central Government. Anyone who publicized his/her medical qualifications not obtained in this manner was punishable [Table 1].
The Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 [Table 2] was brought into effect after independence for the same purpose, and this stated that states and universities could start medical courses and confer qualifications only after due process of sanction from the Central Government through accreditation from the MCI. The MCI has a list (Schedule 1) of Indian universities and institutions that are accredited for starting and conducting medical courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and conferring qualifications. Universities and private institutions may apply to the MCI for accreditation of courses. Code of Ethics Regulation, 2002 [Table 3] contains regulations regarding the use and display of these qualifications.
| Cases and Petitions|| |
There have been several cases and petitions on this issue, and two such cases are discussed below which may throw some light on this matter.
Dr. V. Balaji versus Union of India (November 25, 2008)
In this case, the Government of Tamil Nadu accorded permission to the Directorate of Medical Education to start a 6-month certificate course in Diabetology (distance learning mode) in all government medical colleges. The validity of this course was challenged by a batch of petitioners. The petitioners stated that in Tamil Nadu, there was already a postgraduate diploma in Diabetology which is being conducted in Madras Medical College, and the said course is being conducted with the permission of the Central Government and the MCI (para 9).
The judgment was that a university or state cannot “open a new or higher course of study or training (including a postgraduate course of study or training) which would enable a student of such course or training to qualify himself for the award of any recognized medical qualification or increase its admission capacity in any course of study or training (including a postgraduate course of study or training), except with the previous permission of the Central Government obtained in accordance with the provisions of this section (para 3).
The institution shall apply for recognition of the postgraduate medical qualification to the Central Government through the affiliating university (para 7).
This Court made it clear that the state cannot grant any certificate on the basis of the said course. The writ petition is thus allowed and the Government Order permitting to conduct the Diabetology course was quashed.
Dr. Ramesh versus Union of India (November 10, 2011)
The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University proposed to introduce 11 PG diploma course in medical science without any approval from the Central Government and MCI. However, there were already approved equivalent courses as per MCI regulations [Table 4].
According to the petitioners, the courses mentioned in [Table 4] are part of recognized courses approved by the MCI/Central Government. The university had carved out the syllabus from the MCI recognized courses. Introducing the above new courses without any approval/recognition from the MCI or Central Government was illegal according to the petitioners.
The contention of the university was that MCI and Central Government are allowing private universities to conduct diploma courses without prior approval; hence, the university was also entitled to conduct courses through approved institutions and colleges without previous permission.
The Hon'ble Court held that the courses offered by the said universities were illegal as per the contention of MCI, and the said illegality of private institutions and other universities cannot be cited or treated as a precedent. Hence the verdict was in favor of the Petitioner and against the Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University.
| “Recognized” Courses and Qualifications|| |
After taking the reader to the above statutes, rules, and settled laws, may I venture to offer my opinion regarding some of the issues concerning medical degrees.
If any institution thinks that just because a course is affiliated with a university (e.g., the Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University), it is enough for recognition, then it is completely wrong. The course/degree is invalid and incomplete. The law is that you may start any course in any subject but only after fulfilling the required legal obligations and obtaining the sanction of the Central Government. One cannot start and run a course without fulfilling the same.
In Dr. V. Balaji versus Union of India discussed above, the Hon'ble Court has pointed out that only the parliament has the ultimate power to legislate in the field of higher and technical education in order to maintain uniform standards throughout India. Therefore, any certificate, degree, diploma, or other document in Western Medical Science conferred by a state in India, by a university, or a private institution is legally invalid; the authority is conferred to The Union Parliament and Union Government alone by 42nd amendment. The MCI also is only a recommending authority alone. Their recommendation can be set aside in appropriate cases by the Government of India.
Therefore, even though various educational institutions advertise that their degrees, diploma certificates, or other documents are recognized by a university, it has the same legal value as a diploma certificate or any document issued by any society, trust, or any legal entity, as both are not approved by MCI and The Central Government, which alone have power as per the provisions of the Constitution since amended.
To put it more precisely, if a diploma is conferred by any University in India in Western Medical Science (allopathic) which is not approved by MCI and Central Government, it is on the same pedestal as any diploma/certificate conferred by private trust/society/campus, etc.
There are thousands of courses being run by various universities in medical education with the full knowledge that they are unapproved by the Central Government. However, in many cases, especially when it comes to recruiting for a job in a hospital, lay persons including social activists (except a very few) are carried away by the mere words “University recognized.” While it is not illegal for a university to conduct a course, it is not legally correct to say that the degree/diploma conferred is a recognized qualification.
Moreover, as per the MCI norms, no one can suffix the name of the diploma offered by any private body or universities if they are not approved by both the MCI and Central Government. No medical professional can use the facsimile seal as “Consultant Diabetologist” with the Diploma granted by any university/trust/society which is not approved by MCI and Central Government. It may be legally acceptable instead to use “trained in Diabetology.”
| Conclusions|| |
- Any degree/diploma/certificate issued even by any university, if they are not approved by the MCI and Central Government, “is not recognized” for any purpose in a professional way
- No medical professional can suffix the name of the diploma/degree/certificate after their name in the business card/seal if they are not approved by both MCI and Central Government
To sum up from the above, the issue of a medical degree or medical diploma by a university without the approval of the Central Government and the MCI will be incomplete and invalid legally.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]