COVID-19: HC asks NBE, NMC to reply to doctors plea, the cost of postponing FMG test

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices to the NBE and NMC on the doctors’ appeal.

COVID-19: HC asks NBE, NMC to reply to doctors plea, the cost of postponing FMG test
Press Trust of India | Jul 12, 2021 - 3:27 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Monday sought the authorities' reply on a plea by doctors challenging imposition of cost and certain adverse observations made by the court while dismissing their petition seeking to postpone the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) screening test due to COVID-19.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices to the National Board of Examination (NBE) and National Medical Commission (NMC) on the doctors’ appeal, while making it clear that the petitioner - Association of MD Physicians - has to first deposit the cost of Rs 25,000 with the Registrar General. “Notice is issued on the condition that this appellant will be depositing the cost within three weeks from today with the Registrar General of this court. The amount, if deposited, shall be accepted by the Registrar General and deposited in fixed deposit in a nationalised bank for six months,” the bench said and listed the matter for hearing on August 27. Petitioner association has filed the appeal challenging a single judge’s June 11 order imposing a cost of Rs 25,000 and making certain remarks while dismissing the petition seeking to postpone the exam which was scheduled for June 18.

During the hearing, advocate Adit S Pujari, representing the association, submitted that the single judge has held them for forum shopping, however, the relief sought before the Supreme Court and the high court was different. He said before the single judge of the high court, the doctors had sought to postpone the exam and in the Supreme Court, their prayer for the interim relief was to direct all the states to induct foreign medical graduates to participate in the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also urged the court to stay the single judge’s June 11 order, however, the bench said, “We are not going to stay the order. First you deposit the cost of Rs 25,000 then we will hear you.”

While NMC was represented through advocates T Singhdev and Abhijit Chakravarty, NBE was represented through lawyer Kirtiman Singh. The association, which also has as members some foreign medical graduates who have completed their primary medical courses in institutions abroad, had said there are a limited number of cities being notified as centres for the FMGE screening test and a large number of candidates will be forced to travel without having received even one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The single judge, while dismissing the petition, had said there was no doubt that while arriving at the decision to hold the FMGE -- June, 2021 on the scheduled date, the respondents, NBE and NMC have considered all aspects of the matter. The court had said the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic reached its peak in India in April and early May and thereafter the numbers have been steadily declining and it would be in public interest if more doctors were added to the workforce in order to be prepared for a possible third wave.

“Even otherwise, there is no legal right in favour of the petitioner Association, representing 41 candidates, to seek postponement of an examination for which more than 18,000 candidates have registered. The candidates who are not comfortable taking the FMGE-June, 2021 are free to take it in the next session. “The fact of the matter is that the COVID-19 pandemic is a reality that one has to live with, for at least some time in the future, but all essential activities will have to go on, albeit with necessary precautionary measures,” it had said.

The court had further said that the association had approached the court at a highly belated stage, that is, June 6, when the Information Bulletin for the FMGE- June, 2021 had been out since April 16 and the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was seemingly behind us. The association had sought to set aside the time schedule for conducting the June 2021 FMGE in the April 15 notice and the April 16 information bulletin titled ‘Foreign Medical Graduate Exam Screening Test information bulletin June 2021 session’ published by the NBE.

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