New Delhi: The Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has ordered the state to shut down 70 bogus nursing colleges in the Gwalior-Chambal region, and conduct a departmental inquiry against officials who permitted such colleges to operate.
The order came Wednesday, on a PIL filed by lawyer Umesh Bohra in 2021. In his petition, Bohra had sought to highlight that many nursing colleges in the region had no infrastructure but were enrolling students each year and giving them degrees without holding any classes.
Earlier this year, the court ordered the constitution of an inquiry committee under the Madhya Pradesh Nursing Council and asked it to inspect all 270 recognised nursing colleges in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
The committee, which submitted its report in a sealed cover to the court, found 70 colleges to be lacking standard norms. Based on the report, the court has ordered that the colleges be shut down.
For an April ground report, ThePrint visited several nursing colleges in Gwalior that an investigation revealed were either running only on paper or in locked buildings and were giving students who had never received any theoretical or practical training, a licence to practise in hospitals by handing them degrees.
“This order sends a big message for the people of Gwalior-Chambal region. The students who would have graduated from these colleges would have entered the healthcare workforce without proper training, which can be dangerous for the system,” petitioner Bohra said.
Welcoming the order, the Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) of Gwalior, Manish Sharma, said it would clean the system of colleges that were operating illegally.
‘It will clean the system’
The law regulating medical colleges in the state — Madhya Pradesh Nursing Shikshan Sanstha Manyata Niyam, 2018 — mandates all nursing colleges, irrespective of whether they are teaching Bachelor’s or Diploma courses, to have a 100-bed hospital attached.
Nursing is a regular course, and a part of students’ training is conducted in hospitals where they observe and assist doctors.
Among the colleges visited by ThePrint were institutes without attached hospitals — where students were learnt to come once a year to take exams.
Data from the Madhya Pradesh Nurses Registration Council shows the same addresses were recorded for several colleges, and despite what appeared to be a severe crunch of teaching staff, such colleges were given recognition.
In the Chambal-Gwalior region, Gwalior has the maximum number of nursing colleges at 121. The neighbouring district of Morena has 30 such colleges, while Bhind has 18. The region has become a hub for handing out nursing degrees, mostly to students from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Of the 70 colleges ordered shut, 31 are from Gwalior, 16 from Morena, 12 from Bhind, nine from Sheopur and two from Datia.
the Gwalior CMHO Manish Sharma welcomed the order.
At the time of hospital inspections, a team from the office of the CMHO visits the site to physically verify the infrastructure.
According to the instructions of the court, an inquiry may also take place in the office of the CMHO on how approvals were given despite nursing colleges lacking hospitals.
“We are aware that our office is also involved in the inspections. The court order will help us identify people who have given approvals without the required set-up. We want the inquiry to happen. This will clean the system,” said Sharma.
An association of nursing colleges in Gwalior, the Private Nursing Institute Association All India, had earlier challenged Bohra’s PIL and moved the Supreme Court to get a stay on the inspection of nursing colleges by a team of lawyers. Following this, the case went back to the MP High Court where the state nursing council was ordered to inspect the colleges.
Arguing that only a handful of nursing colleges were in a poor state, the association’s president, R.M. Singh, told ThePrint that the body would not challenge the court order.
“Our association will not support the colleges that were not operating according to the rules. We respect the court order and the government inquiry,” said Singh.
It is not certain yet what the fate of students admitted to these 70 colleges would be.
Bohra said he would move court for cancellation of degrees awarded to students who graduated from these bogus colleges.
“The students paid money and got degrees from these colleges. They have not received any classroom or hospital training and they have degrees to attend to patients in hospitals,” said Bohra.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)