Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 11 (ILNS) The Kerala High Court has directed the Centre to accept the recommendation of the Dental Council of India to permit three seats each for the MDS Course in ‘Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry’ and ‘Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge’ in Shree Anjaneya Institute of Dental Sciences.
The plea has been filed by Shree Anjaneya Institute of Dental Sciences, a ‘Dental College’ established in 2013, seeking directions to the Dental Council of India, Union of India, and Kerala University of Health Sciences.
The Counsel for the petitioner contended that reduction in number of seats in spite of the recommendations of the Dental Council of India is highly arbitrary and unreasonable, especially when no reasonable explanation is given. Rejection of the request on the ground of deficiency of clinical materials cannot stand the scrutiny of law.
The learned Assistant Solicitor General of India has countered that the revised recommendations of the DCI for granting permission for three seats cannot be agreed to because the initial recommendation was made on November 29, 2020 after the policy decision taken on 06.10.2020. There is no change in conditions after the first recommendation, warranting the second recommendation made by the DCI on February 23, 2021.
The single Judge Bench of Justice N Nagaresh held, “The reason given for not permitting three seats for the courses is unacceptable on the ground that while making the first recommendation for two seats, the officials of the DCI might have omitted to take into account the policy decision. Further, the Council of Inspectors admittedly did not conduct inspection of the petitioner-College to ascertain sufficiency or otherwise of infrastructural requirements or availability of clinical material, in the college. So, the petitioner cannot be put to a disadvantageous position and penalised for the omission of the DCI to conduct inspection, in view of its policy decision taken on 06.10.2020.”
The petitioner/college desired to start Post Graduate courses from the academic year 2021-2022 and submitted Ext P2 application dated February 12, 2020 for Consent of Affiliation to the Kerala University of Health Sciences for starting the following MDS Courses that;
a. Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics (3 seats)
b. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (3 setas)
c. Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry (3 seats)
d. Prosthodontics and Crown & Bridge (3 seats)
e. Conservative Dentistry & Endodontics (3 seats)
Kerala University of Health Science issued Consent of Affiliation on 19.11.2020 to all the five courses with three seats each.
Meanwhile, the petitioner has submitted applications for Letter of Permission (LOP) and Letter of Intent (LOI) from the Union of India and Dental Council of India on which latter has appointed a Council of Inspectors to inspect the petitioner college and ascertain availability of physical infrastructure.
Dental Council of India had also taken a policy decision due to Covid-19 on 06.10.2020 that all the dental colleges where inspection is/has been conducted and likely to be conducted during the period of Covid-19 pandemic, be relaxed from the requirement of number of patients, students as well as teaching staff or dental OPD of the hospital/college as prescribed in the MDS and BDS Course admissions. In view of the said policy decision, the Council of Inspectors did not physically inspect the College.
The Union of India issued Letter of Intent to the petitioner to start all the five MDS courses applied for. However, as per Ext.P16, only two seats were permitted to the courses ‘Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry’ and ‘Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge’. In Ext.P16, it was stated that clinical material is sufficient for two seats only. The petitioner was required to furnish some more documents and Bank Guarantee of Rs. 60 lakhs.
The petitioner thereupon addressed a letter to the Union of India requesting to reconsider their application and grant LoI/LoP to 3 seats for the said two courses also. The petitioner provided the requisite Bank Guarantee. The Dental Council of India, considering its policy decision, gave a revised recommendation advising to allow 3 seats each for the aforementioned two courses also. The Union of India, however, issued LoP dated 26.02.2021 permitting only two seats for the courses Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry and Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge. ILNS/DS/RJ