Cannot admit Ukraine returned medicos in Indian Medical Colleges: Centre tells Supreme Court
New Delhi: The Central Government has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that Indian medical students who returned from Ukraine cannot be accommodated in Indian universities as there is no provision in the National Medical Commission Act allowing it.In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Union Ministry of Health pointed out it had already introduced some...
New Delhi: The Central Government has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that Indian medical students who returned from Ukraine cannot be accommodated in Indian universities as there is no provision in the National Medical Commission Act allowing it.
In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Union Ministry of Health pointed out it had already introduced some "proactive measures to assist the returnee students".
The affidavit has been filed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare responding to a batch of petitions seeking relief for Indian students who had to abandon their medical courses in Ukraine midway after the Russian attack in February- March 2022.
The plea was filed by evacuated students, who have sought the urgent indulgence of this court in light of the extraordinary situation which has presented itself in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war crisis which has gravely impeded their education.
The unfortunate events in Ukraine have led to the evacuation of students and consequently, their education has inevitably come to a stand-still.
One of the petitions was filed through advocate Ashwarya Sinha, who said that the education of about 14,000 evacuated Indian students has come to a complete halt as their careers stand to be irreparably jeopardized and their fundamental rights protected under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India have become illusory.
The advocate also said the evacuated students including the Petitioners herein are going through immense mental hardship and agony since their entire career hangs in ambiguity and their education has virtually come to a standstill since February 2022, with no foreseeable restoration of peace in the war-torn country.
"The unfortunate situation which has transpired in the present case is that the Petitioners are neither in a position to resume their education at their respective institutions in Ukraine nor permitted to continue their education at institutions in India under the present regulations, " the petition said, quotes ANI.
Therefore, the petitioners have also sought to issue an appropriate direction under Section 45 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, upon the NMC to frame guidelines and SOPs for the migration of Indian medical students who have been evacuated from Ukraine to indian-medical-colleges as a one-time measure in the equivalent academic year.
The petition also sought to issue direction upon the Centre to issue necessary directions under Section 46 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019; and an appropriate direction upon the respondents to provide adequate infrastructural/academic and financial support for the continuation of medical education of the evacuated Indian students from Ukraine.
The petition also sought to formulate guidelines by exercising jurisdiction conferred under Article 142 of the Constitution of India in light of the extraordinary situation on account of the ongoing war in Ukraine for protecting the interests of the evacuated students and their migration to indian-medical-colleges.
However, Allowing such transfers would also seriously hamper the standards of medical education in India, the affidavit filed by Centre stated.
The Supreme Court bench headed by justice Hemant Gupta listed the matter for September 16 for further hearing.
In the affidavit, the health ministry said it had examined the issue elaborately in consultation with the National Medical Commission (NMC), the country's apex regulatory body for medical education.
It said while the NMC had so far "not allowed to transfer or accommodate any foreign medical student in any Indian medical institute/ university", the regulatory body had allowed medical graduates with incomplete internship, due to their leaving their colleges or universities abroad in view of the war or the Covid pandemic, to complete the remaining part of the internship in India.
"It is humbly submitted that in case these students with (a) Poor Merit are allowed admission in premier medical colleges in India by default, there may be several litigations from those desirous candidates who could not get seats in these colleges and have taken admission in either lesser known colleges or have been deprived of a seat in medical colleges. Further, in case of affordability, if these candidates are allocated Private Medical Colleges in India, they once again may not be able to afford the fees structure of the concerned institution", the affidavit stated, reports Livelaw.
"Any further relaxation in this regard, including the prayer seeking transfer of these returnee students to Medical colleges in India would not only be dehors the provisions of Indian Medical Council Act 1956 and the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 as well as the regulations made thereunder, but would also seriously hamper the standards of medical education in the country".
It said the NMC had also, after SC's directions in July this year, devised a scheme for returnees who had been in the last year of their undergraduate medicine courses abroad and completed their studies in India and were subsequently granted course completion certificates on or before June 30, 2022. The scheme allowed such students to take the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in India, the ministry said.
The ministry said the current petitioners, however, appeared to be undergraduate students in the 1st to 4th year of studies in foreign medical colleges, primarily seeking transfer to Indian medical colleges in their respective semesters.
"There are no such provisions", the affidavit stated, "either under the Indian medical Council Act, 1956 or under the National Medical Council Act, 2019, as well as regulations to accommodate or transfer medical students from any foreign medical institutes/ colleges to Indian medical colleges."
Indian Express reports that the ministry said that to help such returnee students, the NMC, in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs, had issued a public notice on September 6 "indicating that NMC would accept completion of the remaining course in other foreign countries (with the approval of parent university/ institution in Ukraine)".
It however added that the public notice "cannot be interpreted to mean accommodation of the students in Indian colleges/ universities as the extant regulations in India do not permit migration of students from foreign universities to India" and that it "cannot be used as a backdoor entry in Indian colleges/ universities offering undergraduate courses".
Over a week ago, considering the special circumstances, the apex medical regulator agreed to recognise the programme offered by Ukraine to allow such students to complete their education as the degree will be awarded by the parent Ukrainian university only.
According to the NMC Act, students studying in foreign medical colleges are required to complete their education and obtain a degree from a single university only.
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