No relief: Supreme Court Says No to postponing PG Final year Medical Examinations
New Delhi: Considering the fact that there are 100s of Universities spread across the country who would announce the date of the examinations, the Apex Court bench refused yesterday to pass any general orders to waive off or postpone the final year postgraduate medical examinations.
The Supreme Court chiefly noted that the National Medical Commission (NMC) has already issued an advisory in April asking the universities in the country to take the COVID-19 situation into consideration while announcing the dates for final year examination, reports PTI.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that observing that the Court shouldn't intervene in matters related to educational policy, the Apex Court had rejected the plea made by Post-graduate medical students seeking directions for waiving the final examination of the final year PG medical students.
Rejecting the plea, the Supreme Court vacation bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and MR Shah earlier observed, "They will be treating patients. How can they be in hands of people who haven't cleared exams?"
These observations of the Court came after challenging the earlier notifications by the National Medical Commission (NMC) advising the medical colleges to continue taking services of Post-graduate resident doctors and also asking the universities to decide on the time and date for conducting the final year examination, these 29 doctors had approached the Supreme Court seeking directions for waiving the final examination of final year PG medical residents.
The plea moved by the PG resident doctors, who are pursuing postgraduate courses (MD/MS/DM/Diploma) in various disciplines of medical science, further sought promotions of the petitioners as senior residents and post-doctoral students as soon as the scheduled tenure completion of three or two years along with pay scale and other allowances. They further sought directions for constituting a joint expert committee for examining and recommending the prayers of the petition and its recommendations.
On the previous hearing on June 11, although the court had refused to waive off the final year postgraduate examinations, it had agreed to consider the other prayers of the doctors including their request for at least a time period of one month to prepare for the examination. The Union of India and the National Medical Commission (NMC) had been issued notices in this regard by the Court.
However, yesterday, the Apex Court said no to passing any general orders in this regard and clarified that a reasonable time for preparation would be a subjective matter.
According to recent media accounts, while considering the plea filed by 29 PG medical residents, the vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah noted that different medical universities have not been made parties in the case. "How can we pass a general order when there are 100s of universities involved all over the country?" observed the Supreme Court bench.
We have interfered where it was possible like postponing by one month the INI CET examination conducted by AIIMS, New Delhi, where we have found that there was no justification in fixing the date for the examination without giving appropriate time to students to prepare, the bench said.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that it would be unfair to ask the PG medical students to prepare for the exams when simultaneously they are attending COVID duties as frontline warriors.
"We are forced to make a choice between attending Covid duty and studying for exams. We have been doing it for a very long time in extraordinary circumstances", Hegde submitted.
On the other hand, Advocate Gaurav Sharma, appearing for NMC said that not all doctors were engaged in COVID duty and the council had issued an advisory in April to all the universities to hold the examination after taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation in their respective areas.
Although the bench agreed on the hardships of PG medical students who are also serving COVID duties, it added that it was not the Court's position to pass orders for postponement of examinations for which dates are yet to be announced by several different universities across the country.
It also rejected the submission of senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for 29 doctors, who have filed the writ petition that NMC be directed to issue directions to all the universities to give reasonable time to students for preparing for the examination.
"We don't know what could be the reasonable time for preparing for the examination. How can the court decide the reasonable time? Everyone may have their reasonable time. Let the university decide on the basis of the advisory of NMC as per the pandemic situation prevailing in their area, the bench said.
"For brother Justice Shah, 15 days might be a reasonable time for exam preparation. For me, it could be 150 days", Justice Banerjee was quoted saying by Live Law.
The top court said, in a vast country like India, the pandemic situation cannot be the same. In April-May the situation in Delhi was very bad but now it is hardly 200 cases per day. In Karnataka, however, the situation is not that good even now. Therefore, we cannot pass any general order without hearing the universities.
Mr Hegde said that since the doctors were engaged in COVID-19 duty, they were not able to prepare for the examination, which will enable them to become senior resident doctors.
However, rejecting the plea to nominally promote the PG students who are attending COVID duties as senior residents without exams, the Bench noted that it could not pass orders to promote doctors without examinations.