PG Resident doctors seek Alternative Mode of Assessment for final year exams: Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea
New Delhi: A division bench of the Apex Court yesterday refused to entertain the plea by a group of final-year Post-graduate resident doctors who sought an alternative mode of assessment for final year examinations.
Observing that the Court didn't have judicial power to take the decision regarding any alternative mode of assessment, the Supreme Court division bench comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee and V Ramasubramanian noted, "There maybe students who are anxious to appear in exam so that they travel abroad. So how we look into that. How can this omnibus prayer be accepted."
Further mentioning that the matter depends on different universities who couldn't be made a party in the case, the bench observed, "The students who are affected can approach individual universities. Universities all over India but covid situation is not same everywhere. Delhi has improved, but Maharashtra, Kerala, and West Bengal are still suffering from COVID. You can withdraw and let students approach individually against any particular university. we don't have any High Court judgment before us too. This writ plea is dismissed as withdrawn. It is made clear that we have not considered the merits of the contention of the petitioners."
As per the latest media report by Live Law, a group of 17 final-year PG resident doctors had moved the Apex Court seeking an alternative mode of assessment as most of them were busy doing COVID duties.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that due to the delay in the conduction of NEET PG 2021 and all other medical examinations across the medical institutions, the National Medical Commission (NMC) in an advisory released in April had mentioned that all the PG medical students were asked to continue their services as resident doctors until a fresh batch of MBBS graduates join to serve. The decision had been taken to ensure that there would not be any shortage of Residents to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few days later, the Prime Minister's Office announced its decision to postpone NEET-PG for at least 4 months and utilize the services of fresh pass-outs for COVID duties.
The PMO release further mentioned that the services of Final Year PG Students (broad as well as super-specialties) as residents may continue to be utilized until fresh batches of PG Students have joined. In fact, the PMO release had also announced that all such professionals who sign up for a minimum of 100 days of Covid duty and complete it successfully would be given the Prime Minister's Distinguished Covid National Service Samman from the Government of India.
Live Law adds that the petitioner PG resident doctors had contended that based on the nature of their duty they remain engaged from 8-12 hours to 24 hours a day. Submitting that they were shocked and surprised to note that Universities had started announcing timetable for Final-year exams without sufficient notice for preparation, the PG resident doctors further submitted before the Court that it would be unjust and manifestly arbitrary to expect a doctor on duty to sit for a theory examination without reasonable notice.
Seeking the Supreme Court's intervention to ensure protection of their fundamental rights enshrined under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition stated, "the abrupt announcement of the examination schedule is unreasonable, arbitrary and a mindless exercise as it fails to take into consideration the hardship which will be caused to thousands of resident doctors."
Clarifying that they were not asking for any cancellation or postponement of the final year examination but only requesting for an alternative method of assessment (via practical examination/internal assessment etc.), the petitioners pointed out how writing the examination in the midst of a pandemic, "will not only be a life threat to the patient which the doctor is attending but at the same time will also expose them to the deadly virus. It is more dangerous because they will have to come back from the examination and attend to the Covid patients, who are most vulnerable to any kind of exposure."
Further referring to the NMC advisory released on April 27 and the Prime Minister's directions engaging the PG resident doctors for COVID duties, the petition further mentioned, "While the doctors, are rendering their duties to safeguard the interest of the entire country, a reasonable consideration must be given by the authorities before passing an abrupt decision regarding conduct of final year examination, which in any event is against its own notification dated 27.04.2021 and also against the spirit of the Prime Minister's statement dated 03.05.2021," adds Bar and Bench.
However, after listening to the contentions by the counsel for the petitioners Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, the Apex Court bench observed, "The students who are affected can approach individual universities. Universities all over India but covid situation is not same everywhere. Delhi has improved, but Maharashtra, Kerala, and West Bengal are still suffering from COVID. You can withdraw and let students approach individually against any particular university. we don't have any High Court judgment before us too. This writ plea is dismissed as withdrawn. It is made clear that we have not considered the merits of the contention of the petitioners."
Earlier, the Supreme Court bench had rejected a similar plea by PG medical students who had sought directions for waiving the final examinations of the final-year PG medical students. Opining that the Court shouldn't intervene in matters related to educational policy, the Apex Court had rejected the plea and had observed, "They will be treating patients. How can they be in hands of people who haven't cleared exams?"