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Clear final MBBS exam in 2 attempts: SC to foreign return medical students

The exams will be in accordance with the existing National Medical Council (NMC) syllabus and guidelines

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BS Web Team New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Indian medical students who returned from Ukraine due to the ongoing war and from China and the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to clear the final MBBS examination in two attempts. The exams will be in accordance with the existing National Medical Council (NMC) syllabus and guidelines.

A bench of justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath modified the Centre's suggestion of allowing them only one attempt as a one-time measure and disposed of all the petitions of the medical students.

The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by medical students who completed seven semesters in their respective foreign universities, and had to return to India on account of the pandemic or war and completed their undergraduate medical course through online mode.

The batch of petitions primarily sought accommodation of such undergraduate students of first to fourth year from various medical colleges/universities to medical colleges in India and other reliefs.

The Centre earlier submitted a report of an expert committee which said that as a one-time extraordinary measure, penultimate year students should be allowed to take the MBBS final examination.

Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, said that given the direction of the court, a committee was formed by the government over the issue.

The court observed that it is no expert and largely accepted the recommendation made by the committee, but said that the only recommendation of concern was that the students were to be given only one attempt to clear the MBBS examination and hence modified it.

The bench said that it is passing the order considering the special circumstances.

What did the Centre's panel suggest?

On December 30, 2022, the Centre set up a committee, under the chairmanship of the Directorate General Of Health Services (DGHS), for finding some possible solutions for problems being faced by foreign medical graduates from Ukraine/China, who have completed online classes of undergraduate medical courses from the penultimate year onwards.

The panel recommended the students may be offered a "single chance" to clear the MBBS final, both part-I and part-II (both theory and practical) according to the existing NMC syllabus and guidelines without being enrolled in any of the existing Indian Medical College. This recommendation had been modified by the top court to mean two chances.

"They can give and clear the examination within a period of one year. Part-I will be followed by Part II after one year. Part II will be allowed only after Part-I is cleared," the panel recommended, adding that the theory paper examination could be conducted centrally and physically, on the pattern of the Indian MBBS examination and practical could be conducted by some designated government medical colleges, assigned the responsibility.

The panel added that after clearing these two examinations, they would have to complete two years of compulsory rotatory internship, the first year of which will be free and the second year paid as has been decided by NMC for previous cases.

"However, the committee has emphasized that this option be strictly a one-time option and not become a basis for similar decisions in future and shall be applicable for present matter only in view of directions of the court in the matter," it had said in its recommendation.

Background of the case

On December 9 last year, the top court had asked the Centre to find out a solution in consultation with the NMC to address this "humane problem".

"We are sure that the Union of India will give due importance to our suggestion and find out a solution for these students, who are undisputedly an asset to the nation and, particularly, when there is a dearth of Doctors in the country," it had said.

It had noted that a very precarious situation has arisen, the students have already completed their course and now it will not be possible for them to return to the respective institutions to complete clinical training in so far as the relationship between them and their respective institution is severed.

The top court had noted that all the students have already passed Foreign Medical Graduate Examination and suggested that the Centre may consider appointing a Committee in the field to find out a solution.

It had agreed with the view of the Centre that in a medical course, practical/clinical training is of utmost importance and academic studies cannot take the colour of practical training.

The bench had said that there are various situations that were beyond human control and a situation like the Covid pandemic has been unimaginable.

"We find that the career of around 500 medical students who have already put in five years of study are at stake. They have already completed seven semesters of study physically and three semesters online...The parents of the students must have spent a huge amount on their studies. If no solution is found, at this stage, the entire career of these students would be left in the lurch, apart from the families being put at sufferance", the top court had said.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Mar 29 2023 | 10:44 AM IST

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