NMC gets 3 Weeks Time to Reply in Plea Seeking Induction of FMGs in COVID Workforce
New Delhi: The Apex Court has granted the National Medical Commission (NMC) 3 weeks time to file reply in the plea seeking induction of the Foreign Medical Graduates in COVID-19 workforce, after the petitioners submitted that they don't want any exemption in the screening test mandatory for the foreign medicos.
A vacation bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah has also given one week time to the petitioners to file their rejoinder to the Commission's affidavit.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the medical graduates, who have pursued their medical education from outside of India, had approached the Apex Court under the banner of The Association of MD Physicians, All India Foreign Medical Graduates, and Russian Medical Graduates Associations.
In the petition, the doctors who graduated from outside of India, sought a one-time exemption for their members and for all other such doctors eligible to take the foreign medical graduate exam in order to augment the health infrastructure of the country. They had further submitted before the Apex Court that their medical degrees obtained from abroad are equivalent to MBBS in India.
The Foreign Medical Graduates are those doctors who have pursued their medical education from abroad. Although their medical degree is equivalent to the MBBS degree in India, they only become eligible to practice in this country after clearing the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE).
During the previous hearing, the Apex Court had expressed its unwillingness to give any exemption to the screening test and mentioned, "We're not inclined to exempt from screening, we don't know which country you've studied to and what is education you have. That's why screening test it there."
However, the Court had issued notice returnable in two weeks to the Central Government in this matter.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, yesterday, while considering the petition the Apex Court bench took note of the fact that the petitioners were not pressing on their prayer a, seeking an one-time exemption from qualifying the FMGE for being included in the Covid-19 workforce to boost up the ailing healthcare system of the country. This clarification came from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal representing the petitioners.
However, the bench also expressed its disinclination regarding another prayer of the petition seeking reduction in the qualifying criteria for the foreign medicos who appeared for the FMGE examination on December 4, 2020 to bring it at par with NEET PG Examination 2020.
Considering the prayer, the bench asked how that could be done and how the court could issue mandamus for that prayer.
"See prayer C also. How can that be done?" Justice Shah was quoted saying by Live Law. "How can we issue mandamus to reduce qualifying criteria?" observed the Bench.
In reply, advocate Sibal clarified that they are not asking for any Mandamus but just asking for consideration from the NMC and Centre to take a view as a policy matter.
"They have done that with NEET too. Let them file their reply." Sibal was quoted saying by the daily.
The counsel appearing for the NMC responded to this submission and stated that although there is a provision to reduce percentile in NEET, the same is not available in FMGE.
He further sought three weeks time to file the affidavit and submitted that NMC is not aware of the level of qualification of the students who have pursued their medical education from outside of India including Russia and China.
Regarding this, the counsel for the petitioners requested for the Court's attention on the two categories of students, one those who have been registered after qualifying the FMG examination and the other ones who have cleared the examination but not being offered an internship. He sought relief for these students without any dispute as they have cleared the screening test.
"There are two categories of people, one Russian Students who sat for exam and passed it and have been registered but not being assigned any job. Another category, is those who have passed it but have not been granted internment." Sibal submitted.
The Apex Court finally granted the three weeks time to NMC to file the affidavit and explain everything in there.
In a related matter, yesterday the Supreme Court bench heard another plea seeking postponement of the FMG examination scheduled to be held on June 18.
The plea was filed by a resident of Itanagar and the counsel for the petitioner Advocate Hegde submitted before the Court that in order to appear for the examination the petitioner would have to travel to Guwahati amidst the Covid-19 situation.
Meanwhile, the counsel for the NMC, advocate Gaurav Sharma informed the Court that a similar petition was filed before the Delhi High Court by the association seeking postponement of the examination and the High Court bench has dismissed the plea.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that the medicos who have pursued their medical education from abroad had come under the banner of Association of MD Physician and objected to appearing for the FMG examination scheduled to take place on June 18, 2021. The association had pleaded to delay the examination at least by one month and allow the candidates to vaccinate themselves before appearing for the same.
However, opposing the plea, the Centre had submitted before the Court that FMGE is merely a screening test and the candidates who are unable to write the examination now, may appear for the same in December.
In the latest development, the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea after listening to the submissions made by both the petitioner doctors and the Centre. The High Court bench of Justice Amit Bansal observed on Friday, "I am not inclined. Dismissed."
Live Law adds, that after being informed of this development, the Supreme Court vacation bench directed to place the Delhi High Court's order on record and listed the matter to be next heard on June 18.
In response, the counsel for the petitioner informed the Court that the exam itself is scheduled to be held on June 18.
"Nothing can be done then, at last moment. We have to read the Order. High Court has dismissed with reasons, place that on record." the Bench observed.
" I am not part of the association, I am from Northeast, I have a problem and I'm bringing it to the Court's notice. The point is Either I can get some relief today or it will be difficult." Hegde was quoted saying by Live Law.
"I don't think we can stop examination in individual cases, that too after the High Court has declined" Justice Banerjee clarified in response.