The discussion over alleged irregularities in post graduate (PG) medical seat allotment in Telangana private medical colleges under KNRUHS (Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences), has taken a political turn, with state Congress chief Revanth Reddy alleging the involvement of TRS ministers. The alleged irregularities came to light last week when officials of the state university submitted a complaint to the Warangal police seeking an investigation into irregularities indicating seat blocking with the intention of later converting them into institutional management quota seats. This would enable private college managements to make huge profits by selling them at a price of up to Rs 2 crore per seat, while denying opportunities to eligible NEET rank holders from the state on the basis of merit.
Police have registered a case against some private colleges and are conducting an investigation. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has also directed the Vice-Chancellor of KNRUHS to immediately submit a detailed report over the alleged irregularities in admissions to medical PG seats in private colleges affiliated with the university. MP Revanth Reddy, however, wrote an open letter to the Governor on Saturday, April 23, asking her to demand a CBI inquiry into the incident. Alleging that TRS leaders were involved in the scam, he said an ordinary inquiry will not suffice. âSeeking a report from the VC isnât enough. Itâs time to use your powers as ex-officio chancellor of all state universities. An impartial, high-level inquiry is needed as ministers are involved in the scam. I request you to order a CBI inquiry into this without any delay,â Revanth Reddy wrote.
TRS Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar, who is one of the leaders named by Revanth Reddy in his letter and who owns Mamata Medical College in Khammam (affiliated to KNRUHS) has strongly denied the allegations. While the results of the police investigation are awaited, university officials have refrained from explicitly naming the colleges involved, or commenting on their role in the alleged scam.
What is the seat blocking scam?
There are 33 medical colleges under the jurisdiction of KNRUHS, including 20 run by private managements. There are a total of 2,295 PG seats under the university, of which 693 seats are under the management quota, 1,090 seats under the convener (government seats in private colleges) quota and 512 seats in the All India Quota. Ever since the state started to conduct PG medical admissions on the basis of NEET-PG scores, a large portion of the management quota (MQ) seats are supposed to be filled through the state counselling process on the basis of merit.
In a recent press meet over the issue, Director of Medical Education (DME) Dr Ramesh Reddy explained, in private medical colleges, 50% seats are filled under convener quota, while the remaining 50% are management quota seats. Of these, 20% fall under institutional quota, which can be filled by the management and are often sold at exorbitant rates ranging from Rs 1 crore to 2 crore. The remaining 80% of the management quota seats, however, are filled by the university through counselling on the basis of merit, he explained.
Seat blocking is when a candidate is allotted multiple seats in different states, thereby taking away the opportunity from another candidate. A high rank holder from another state may register for the counselling process in Telangana, get a seat allocated in a private college and even enrol in the college, while holding another seat in a different university which they actually wish to join. They usually give up the blocked seat at the last minute after the counselling process has concluded, thereby freeing up a seat, which the management can now convert to institutional management quota and sell at a high price.
What happened at KNRUHS
According to DME Ramesh Reddy, seat blocking is possible only in the management quota seats, as there are no regional reservations under it and students from any state can opt for these seats. He said that when students with very high NEET-PG ranks, who can easily get a seat of their choice in their own state, but also enrol in Telangana, the university becomes alert and looks into it. He said that students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana would not be able to block seats as the university would have their details, if they already have a seat allocated elsewhere.
KNRUHS Vice-Chancellor Dr B Karunakar Reddy said that 14 students were found to be high rank holders from other states like Bihar and Maharashtra, after the second round of the state counselling process. The university officials wrote to them asking for an explanation and warning of action if seat blocking was detected. In the subsequent mop-up round of counselling, again 20 registered students from other states were found to be suspicious, of whom only four students joined the respective colleges. On inquiring with the 16 candidates who didnât join, five of them responded by saying their certificates and documents had been uploaded for counselling without their knowledge. So far, seven candidates have claimed they never applied to the university, although their certificates were uploaded, he said. With this, authorities took note and lodged a police complaint, the VC said.
The officials claimed that so far, none of the seats given up by high rank holders, or possibly blocked seats, are in danger of being sold as institutional management quota seats, as they are being filled through counselling. Of the 34 suspicious candidates so far, 14 have joined colleges and have continued with their seat and are in constant touch with university authorities, the VC said. Of the remaining 20 seats which were left vacant, four were already filled in the mop-up round of counselling and the remaining 16 are part of the seats notified for subsequent counselling rounds, he said. He added that the government has even allowed extra rounds of counselling before handing over the âstray vacancyâ seats to the college managements.
Authorities have also raised the exit fee â the fee to be paid by students to get back their original certificates on resigning from a seat allotted to them â from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh to discourage seat blocking.
Who is to blame?
At the time the police complaint was filed by the university officials, KNRUHS Registrar D Praveen Kumar told the media that it would be wrong to assume that college managements had colluded with the candidates who had blocked the seats, as all of the colleges involved were established institutions. âWe have to inquire if any agencies were involved, or if the students themselves did it out of greed for money by conspiring with someone,â he said.
On being asked why the medical colleges involved were not being named, the VC said at the press meet, claimed that the university had only noted the details of candidates and not colleges. âThe involvement of the college will only be known after police inquiry. Before that, anything we say will be speculation,â the VC insisted.
MP Revanth Reddy, in his letter to the Governor, alleged that TRS leaders like Ministers Malla Reddy, Puvvada Ajay Kumar and MLC Palla Rajeshwar Reddy who are running private colleges were involved in the scam. He challenged them to allow inspection by the NMC to see if they had sufficient teaching staff and infrastructure for the students, and to probe admissions and sale of management quota seats since the introduction of NEET.
Calling the alleged scam an injustice to poor and middle-class students in the state, he said that a response from the Health Minister or the Chief Minister cannot be expected over the issue, âsince TRS leaders themselves are involved in the scam.â He said it was clear that college managements had filled in the false applications in the names of students from other states and planned to eventually sell them under the institutional management quota. He called the police complaint lodged by university authorities âridiculousâ and said, âWhen colleges owned by ministers are involved, how can we trust an ordinary police investigation to ensure justice?â
While Revanth Reddy has sought a CBI inquiry into the matter, state Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay dared him to prove that his Mamata Medical College was involved in the scam. He even said he would surrender his college to the government if Revanth Reddy could prove it, adding that he was planning to take legal action against him.