Sri Lanka Medical Council used double standards, exceeded powers: Court

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Medical Council, a statutory body that registers doctors in the country, had used double standards and exceeded its powers when denying graduates of a private medical college, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Justices V K Malalgoda and S Thurairaja ordered the Sri Lanka Medical Council to provisionally register a graduate of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SLAITM), a fee-levying college authorised to award degrees.

The court observed that the Sri Lanka Medical Council had no powers to decide whether or not to grant registrations or decide on the suitability of a university, which was power vested with the minister of higher education.

A team from SLMC that investigated the university had come up with a detailed report, outlining shortcomings mainly relating to access to patients and forensic medicine, which could be rectified by partnering with the state health system.

But the investigating team, in their conclusion, had "surprisingly recommended" that graduates of the school are not suitable for provisional registration.

"When considering the observations made by the investigators as referred to above, it is clear that the above observations do not match the final recommendation made by them," the court said.

Another investigation committee, which examined the Kothelawala Defence University, had concluded in a two-page report that "Facilities provided for training were found to be very high standard and the team felt that, once the hospital was completed in 2015, the entire training of military medical graduates could be undertaken in these facilities."

Story continues below
Advertisement
Story continues below
Advertisement

The cCourt observed that the conclusion was arrived at before the construction of a 700-bed teaching hospital was completed.

"When considering the two reports referred to above, it appears that one report has been made after inspecting SAITM and the other after inspecting FOM-KDU, but two different standards have been used when preparing those reports."

Sri Lanka has been struggling to set up fee levying universities to increase access to higher education to the people without further burdening taxpayers, amid stiff resistance from Marxist university students affiliated to Sri Lanka’s Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.

A powerful union representing doctors at state hospitals has also resisted the setting up of private medical colleges.

Sri Lanka has been unable to set up fee levying, degree awarding universities that have not been a burden on taxpayers for decades.

However, the last regime broke the state monopoly on degree awarding and expanded students’ economic freedom by bringing legislation to allow fee levying universities to be set up in medical and other fields.