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Delhi HC comes to rescue of DNB Family Medicine Doctor; directs NBE to award her degree


Delhi HC comes to rescue of DNB Family Medicine Doctor; directs NBE to award her degree

New Delhi: In a major respite, the Delhi High Court has approved the candidature of a medico, who was declared ineligible for the DNB degree by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) even though she had qualified the DNB theory as well as the practical examinations.

The HC bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher has directed NBE to issue a DNB Degree in favour of the medico in the Family Medicine speciality for the concerned year.

The case concerns the doctor, who participated in the 2015 counselling conducted by the NBE whereupon was registered for training with the Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research in the speciality DNB Family Medicine. Her training resultantly began from June that year.

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Two years later, the medico was issued a provisional DNB Training Completion Certificate by the institute to enable her to take the DNB Final theory exam. Pertinently, in 2017, the medico had taken extra leave on medical grounds.

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Then in March 2018, the results of the DNB Final theory exam were declared which the medico qualified. On the same date, she received a communication from the NBE concerning acceptance of her thesis.

Thereafter, the petitioner received her admit card for final practical exam. Having received the admit card, the petitioner appeared in the practical exam on 18.05.2018. However, when results of the exam were declared generally in June 2018, her result was withheld.

The institute then issued a final completion certificate to the medico stating that she had completed her DNB training.

The final completion certificate was submitted to NBE and the petitioner submitted its explanation to the NBE with regard to the extra leave taken by her. The NBE, however, was not convinced and declared the petitioner ineligible and went on to hold that the results of her DNB theory exam and practical exam would be treated as null and void.

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Aggrieved with the decision, the medico moved the court and submitted her contentions.

In response, the NBE maintained that the petitioner has failed to complete the training before the cut-off date and has thus failed the eligibility criteria for grant of the DNB Degree. In furtherance of its stand, the NBE also emphasized the point that the petitioner took excess leave qua which it was required to take its prior approval as per the provisions of Clause 10(11) as contained in the Information Bulletin.

The counsel for the petitioner stressed the fact that the training was conducted with the institute which stood affiliated to the NBE and therefore the provisional DNB Training Completion Certificate issued on 19.09.2017 could not be given a short shrift after every requirement for issuance of a DNB Degree had been fulfilled. He further highlighted the difference between the prescribed cut-off date i.e. 30.06.2018 which stood incorporated in the Information Bulletin and the scheduled cut-off date for completion of training which found mention in the Provisional DNB Training Completion Certificate dated 19.09.2017.

On the argument by the NBE that petitioner had taken excess leave without prior approval of the NBE, the counsel for the medico argued that Clause 10(11) had to be read harmoniously with Clause 10(8) of the NBE Leave Rules as contained in the Information Bulletin published by the NBE and that if the same was done, it would be clear that only if extension of DNB training is required to be given for a period of more than two (2) months beyond the scheduled completion date would prior approval of the NBE be required.

After hearing the submissions and arguments from the medico and the NBE, the HC bench observed

what is important to bear in mind is that since the training with the say so of the NBE is conducted by the institute affiliated with it, its understanding of the scheduled cut-off date as against the one prescribed in the Information Bulletin is of seminal importance from the point of view of the candidate

The other objection concerning excess leave taken by the petitioner, albeit, without prior approval of the NBE is also an objection which can have no impact in the facts of this case. This is so when on 06.08.2018, as noticed above, the institute indicated that the petitioner had availed of 105 days of leave during her entire 3 years training period and that she had qua this period worked as a resident doctor strictly in accordance with Leave Rules, one would have expected the NBE to respond if it was not so or if it needed to look at the petitioner’s leave record before it said yes or no as there was no prior approval given by it, as contended on its behalf. The NBE did neither.

On the leave taken by the medico, the bench noted

since the burden of supervising the training is on the institute affiliated to the NBE, the candidate, with regard to availability of leave is rightly guided by the institute. The fact that the institute gave leave to the petitioner which according to it was in accordance with the provisions of the Leave Rules should hold the field. The interpretation of the Leave Rules by the institute from the point of view of the candidate (in this case the petitioner) would have to be given due weight.

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In its decision, the bench agreed with the counsel for the petitioner as well as the institute that she did in point of fact complete her training within the scheduled cut-off date and therefore, the writ sought be issued in her favour. The court admitted the plea of the medico and directed NBE to issue the DNB Degree.

The writ petition is allowed. The NBE will issue a DNB Degree in favour of the petitioner in the Family Medicine speciality qua the concerned year.

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