Due to contractual obligations, the state government had to admit candidates nominated by the owners of the donors’ quota seats to the MBBS course in top medical colleges in the city, without the candidates clearing the Joint Entrance Examinations.
These seats were reserved for the benefactors/donors, who had donated their lands or property to set up or expand these medical colleges before they were nationalized during the British rule.
The logic in prescribing donors’ quota, as it were, was that the benefactors being men and women of integrity with a philanthropic zeal would nominate poor but meritorious students for these seats.
However, these quota seats have been allegedly misused in the past few years, as the candidates getting admission in the various medical colleges in the state under donors’ quota were in no way related to the benefactors and their descendants. The quota seats were originally meant for poor and meritorious students; but with passage of time the system changed and descendants of the original donors allegedly started ‘selling the seats through auction’.
It has often been alleged that each donor quota seat was being sold to candidates belonging to affluent families at an exorbitant price of anything between Rs 60 and 80 lakh. Unworthy candidates, who have not written the joint entrance exams, have secured seats in top state-run medical colleges in the city over the years, thanks to rich parents.
The archaic practice continued even after Independence, as the state government had failed to abolish the custom. The system, however, invited criticism from various quarters, including intellectuals who have always believed that prestigious medical seats should be distributed on the basis of merit alone.
The state government did not have too many options, as there was a contractual obligation to the benefactors since a long time.
As the state has no right to conduct this year’s joint entrance examination after the Supreme Court order, the contractual obligation between the two parties has become defunct and it is up to the central agencies to conduct the NEET. This comes as a big blow to the owners of these seats, who allegedly make huge money out of ‘sale’ of these seats.
Various organizations of doctors and former principals of some medical colleges in the city had criticized the donors’ quota system in medical courses, in which meritorious students are denied admission to make place for influential and undeserving candidates. They said that the system must be abolished, otherwise worthy candidates would lose the opportunity.
National Medical College and Hospital and RG Kar Medical College and Hospital have four donors’ quota seats each, while there is one such quota seat at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.