Delhi HC dismisses challenge to NMC regulation of maximum four attempts to clear MBBS first year

Delhi HC said that in a profession like doctors, rules must ensure only individuals with requisite calibre are made medical professionals.

Delhi High Court. (Picture: Shutterstock)Delhi High Court. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Press Trust of India | November 22, 2022 | 08:37 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has dismissed a challenge to a National Medical Commission regulation prescribing a maximum of four attempts for a medical student to clear the first year of the MBBS course.

Observing that medicine is a noble profession and doctors serve the general public at large, a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said the rules must ensure only individuals with inclination and requisite calibre are made medical professionals.

The regulation capping the attempts at four, the court ruled, is not arbitrary and a candidate does not have the right to take an examination for any number of times. “Considering that medicine is a noble profession, and that a doctor serves the general public at large, the Government must have rules and regulations that ensure that only individuals with the inclination coupled with the requisite calibre are made medical professionals,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, in the order dated November 17.

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The court's order came on petitions by some MBBS students who had exhausted their four attempts and sought another chance to take the examinations. The petitioners challenged Regulation 7.7 of 'Regulations on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment), 2019' on the ground that it cannot not be applied retrospectively as they had enrolled in their respective medical colleges prior to its issuance.

The court noted the MBBS course includes 4 and a half years of teaching/training followed by one year of compulsory rotating medical internship and the “petitioners even after a passage of 3 years have been unable to pass even the first year of their MBBS course”. The court observed the petitioners did not have an accrued or vested right to be given infinite chances to complete their degree and they were aware that they were supposed to complete their degree in 10 years, which indicated the existence of fetters on their right to obtain the degree.

“The legislature was well within its power to apply the impugned regulation even if the students had taken admission prior to the enactment of the legislation....the petitioners did not have a legitimate expectation to get infinite opportunities to qualify in the medical examination. It cannot be said that the number of attempts that can be taken by a candidate to clear an examination cannot be curbed. There cannot be a right to attempt any examination any number of times,” said the court.

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“It is evident that the impugned regulations have been notified after careful thought and deliberation, and do not attract the vice of arbitrariness. It cannot be said that a candidate has a right to take an examination for any number of times and the regulating authority cannot put cap on the number of attempts and such a cap which is put on the candidate takes away any right of a candidate,” it further said.

The NMC, represented by lawyer T Singhdev, said the regulation was introduced to ensure that only students with adequate aptitude and merit become doctors and the other students may at an early stage, without wasting time and resources, pursue their vocational callings and the state resources are directed towards providing quality medical education. The court noted the “considerations of the State are valid” and the authorities were within their right to frame rules and regulations to pursue and establish this purpose.

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