New Delhi: Undergraduate medical students who had to return from Ukraine and China in their penultimate year of study will get two attempts to clear their final MBBS exams in India.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed this after the centre, as a one-time exception, expressed willingness to give them one chance to clear the exam as recommended by an expert Committee. Though the centre suggested one chance, the SC bench of Justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath felt that this may be insufficient and modified it to allow two attempts.
“We accept the report of the committee, subject to a minor modification…student being offered a single chance to clear MBBS Final, both Part I and Part II Examinations, be read as student being offered single/two chances to clear both Part I and Part II examinations (theory and practical)”, the court ordered and clarified that “the two chances will be for both Part I and Part II examinations”.
The court was hearing a plea by medical students who had to return from universities abroad following covid-19 and Ukraine-Russia war.
Hearing it on December 9, 2022, the SC asked the Union Ministries of Health, Home and External Affairs to “to find a solution to this humane problem” in consultation with the National Medical Commission (NMC). The court further said that the centre “may consider appointing a Committee…to find out a solution”.
In an affidavit filed in response to the direction, the centre informed the SC that a Committee was accordingly set up under the chairmanship of the Director General lof Heath Service (DGHS) and comprising representatives of the NMC and the three ministries.
The Committee discussed the issue, the affidavit said adding that during the discussions, representatives from various states “voiced their reservation on the quality of education and training the FMGs (Foreign Medical Graduates) might have and hence had reservations about accommodating them in colleges mid-way during the course”.
It pointed out that the Committee after deliberations had recommended that students who had to return in their penultimate year and thereafter pursued online classes “may be offered a single chance to clear the MBBS Final, both Part I and Part II Examinations (both theory and practical) as per existing NMC syllabus and guidelines without being enrolled in any of the existing Indian medical colleges. They can give and clear the exam within a period of one year. Part I followed by Part II after one year. Part II will be allowed only after Part I is cleared”.
The Committee also recommended that “the theory exam could be conducted centrally and physically, on the pattern of Indian MBBS examination and practical could be conducted by designated medical colleges, assigned the responsibility.”
“After clearing these two examinations, they would have to complete 2 year of compulsory rotatory internship, first year of which will be free and the second year paid as has been decided by NMC for previous cases”, the Committee suggested and emphasised that “this…strictly be 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 the” court’s directions.
Counsel appearing for the students however questioned the recommendations and contended that the government had erected yet another hurdle for the students.
They also raised doubts whether one chance would be sufficient given the difference in the syllabi followed in India and abroad.
The bench agreed that the move to allow them only once chance may be insufficient and directed that this be modified as two attempts. It however refused to intervene with any of the other recommendations of the expert committee.