SC rescues MBBS students hit by Ukraine crisis, Covid-19, asks NMC to frame scheme

SC took note of student who could not complete clinical training physically in Chinese institute due to Covid19 and said that talent should not be wasted.

SC rescues MBBS students hit by Ukraine crisis, Covid-19, asks NMC to frame scheme Supreme Court
Press Trust of India | Apr 29, 2022 - 8:14 p.m. IST
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New Delhi: Coming to the rescue of MBBS students of foreign universities who faced difficulties due to the Ukraine crisis and COVID, the Supreme Court Friday directed the National Medical Commission (NMC) to frame a scheme in two months permitting students to complete clinical training in medical colleges here.

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The top court, which was hearing an appeal of the NMC against a Madras High Court order asking it to provisionally register MBBS graduate of a Chinese University, however, was of the view that there was nothing wrong in denying the provisional registration as “without practical training, there cannot be any Doctor who is expected to take care of the citizens of the country”.

A bench of justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian said, “No doubt, the pandemic has thrown new challenges to the entire world including the students but granting provisional registration to complete an internship to a student who has not undergone clinical training would be compromising with the health of the citizens of any country and the health infrastructure at large.”

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However, the top court took note of the plight of the student who could not complete the clinical training physically in the Chinese institute due to the pandemic situation and said that talent should not be allowed to be wasted and services “should be used to augment health infrastructure in the country”.

“We therefore direct to frame a scheme as a one time measure within two months to allow the student and such similarly situated students who have not actually completed clinical training to undergo clinical training in India in the medical colleges which may be identified by the appellant for a limited duration as may be specified by the appellant, on such charges which the appellant determines,” Justice Gupta, writing the judgement, said.

The 18-page verdict said that it shall be open to the NMC, the successor organisation of MCI and which supervises medical education in the country, to test such students in the manner within the next one month, that it considers appropriate to satisfy that they are sufficiently trained to be provisionally registered to complete an internship for 12 months.

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The verdict examined the question of whether the degree granted by a foreign institute even in respect of clinical training is binding on the NMC and the student has to be provisionally registered. “We find that the appellant (NMC) is not bound to grant provisional registration to the student who has not completed the entire duration of the course from the Foreign Institute including the clinical training,” it said, adding that without practical training, there cannot be any doctor and the decision of not to grant provisional registration “cannot be said to be arbitrary”.

The bench was very critical of the submission of MBBS students like Pooja Thandu Naresh, who was granted an MBBS degree by Qingdao University, Faculty of Medicine, China, that certain similarly placed people have been granted provisional registration.

“This will not confer any right with the student to claim provisional registration so as to undergo the internship. There cannot be any equality in illegality,” the bench said. The medical body had filed the appeal against the orders of July 29 and September 29, 2021, of the high court in the petitions, filed for quashing the circulars issued by the Tamil Nadu Medical Council asking the student to undergo two months of compulsory rotatory residential internship, followed by one year of internship before granting permanent registration under the Indian Medical Council Act, now repealed by the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.

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The bench found force with the submissions of the NMC that in terms of the statutory regulations, the student has to study the medical course in the same institute located abroad for the “entire duration”.

“However, the fact remains that the students were permitted to undergo medical courses abroad and that they have completed their curriculum according to the certificate granted by such Foreign Institute. Therefore, such national resources cannot be permitted to be wasted which will affect the lives of young students, who had taken admission in the foreign Institutes as part of their career prospects,” it said.

Therefore, the services of the students should be used to augment the health infrastructure in the country, and thus, it would be necessary that the students undergo actual clinical training of such duration and at such institutes which are identified by the NMC and on such terms and conditions, including the charges for imparting such training, as may be notified by the medical body, it said.

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