No provisional certificate to foreign medical students impacted by Covid pandemic: SC

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The Supreme Court on Friday said the Indian medical students from foreign institutes are facing a tremendous challenge amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but granting them provisional registration to complete internship without having undergone clinical training would be compromising with the health of citizens.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the National Medical Commission (NMC), contended before a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian that Ukraine crisis, along with the ongoing Covid pandemic, has brought out new challenges and a holistic view would be needed to protect the interests of the Indian students, who went abroad for their courses. He had emphasised that at the same, no compromise can be allowed with the quality of medical education expected from them in India.

The top court dealt with a question “whether the degree granted by the foreign institute even in respect of clinical training is binding on the appellant and the student has to be provisionally registered”.

It directed the NMC “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”.

“It shall be open to the appellant to test the candidates in the scheme so framed in the manner within next one month, which it considers appropriate as to satisfy that such students are sufficiently trained to be provisionally registered to complete internship for 12 months,” it added.

The top court said eligibility regulations are to ensure that a student meets the minimum eligibility condition as per the Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 1997, but after completing the curriculum, a candidate has to qualify the screening test, provided the entire duration of the course has been completed at the same institute located abroad.

The top court judgment came on a plea filed by the NMC challenging the Madras High Court orders passed in July and September last year.

The bench said: “We are unable to agree with the High Court that instead of three months of clinical training in China, two months training would be sufficient for provisional registration apart from the 12 months of internship. The courts are not experts in deciding an academic curriculum or the requirement of the clinical training which may be required to be satisfied by the students.”

It noted that the 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.

The top court held that the NMC’s decision not to grant provisional certificate to Pooja Thandu Naresh and others cannot be said to be arbitrary as without practical training, there cannot be any doctor who is expected to take care of the citizens of the country.

“The argument that certain students have been granted provisional registration 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,” it noted.

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