DNB doctors challenge training extension by NBE, SC junks plea
New Delhi: In a setback to DNB doctors, the Supreme Court of India has refused to interfere in the National Board of Examination, NBE's decision of extending the remaining of DNB candidates for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refusing to entertain their contentions, the Supreme Court has dismissed the plea filed by the Association of Diplomate of National Board (DNB) Doctors challenging the National Board of Examination's notice. A two-judge bench of the Top Court, headed by honourable Justices Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat refused to interfere in the matter.
The petitioner, in this case, Association of Diplomate of National Board (DNB) Doctors is a registered society with doctors presently pursuing 3rd/Final years of DNB courses throughout the country in various medical institutions as members. The members of and were to appear in the forthcoming practical and theory examinations and their training is extended by 3 months period by the NBE Notification issued on 18th January 2021.
Medical Dialogues had reported about the impugned notification whereby the training of the DNB, DrNB and FNB candidates was extended by 3 months whose scheduled tenure is ending in 2021. The training period was extended by 3 months for the following courses to compensate for the loss of the "specialty-specific training" due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. DNB Broad specialty (Post MBBS) 2018 session
2. DNB Super Specialty 2018
3. DNB Broad Specialty (Post Diploma) 2019 and FNB 2019.
Challenging the aforementioned NBE notification, the DNB doctors moved the Supreme Court alleging that the impugned notification is totally arbitrary and unreasonable as the training of DNB trainees had not been adversely impacted during the lockdown in COVID-19 and they continued with the academic and practical requirement even during the ongoing pandemic.
The association submitted that the NBE is bound to follow the PGME Guidelines of 2000 and the directions of the National Medical Commission (NMC), however, the notification was issued with no suitable reasoning and without consultation with student bodies, faculties or hospitals.
"As per circulars dated 15.03.2020 and 24.03.2020, the ministry of Home Affairs clarify that there would be no discontinuance of work in hospitals or treatment of patients therein, during the currency of the COVID-19 pandemic, or imposition of lockdown by the Government in connection therewith." - the plea read, quotes Livelaw.
It was contended that no such extension has been directed in the case of MD/MS PG trainees which is an equivalent course to the DNB trainees and some universities have gone ahead and promoted the MD/MS junior residents to Senior Residents irrespective of the exam status on the basis of completion of 3 years of training.
Arguing that there has been a disparity between the two batches of students, the doctors stated that the 2017 batch of NBE trainees have received the training completion certificate without any extension. Tanmay Mehta, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, said that there has been discrimination within the same class. Several other DNB students were allowed to continue the training.
The doctors further submitted that there are hundreds of students who have bonded to clear for which they have been assigned post by state agencies. "Such an arbitrary extension would result in the loss of the entire year and cause irreparable harm to the academic and professional lives of many individuals. The students will lose out on opportunities for fellowships, jobs and career prospects. Also, the candidates who were stuck during lockdown at their hometown and are already serving an extension for the said time are now being subjected to 3 months more extension," they added in their petition.
The association further argued the training obtained for the coronavirus treatment was also made part of the academic schedule by the Hospital and Institutions under the NBE and was being treated as part of the curriculum and therefore it cannot be said that the time spent in treating the Covid-19 patients was not part of the training of the candidates.
During the hearing, the petitioner association's counsel stated that it is a pan India issue, a question of vires, and the Court should interfere.
Deliberating the issue after hearing the contention and arguments laid down by the petitioner and the counsel, the Supreme Court refused to entertain the petition and dismissed the plea.
As quoted by the Livelaw, the apex court observed:
"Why should we interfere when half of it is over. Just finish your training. The court doesn't have any judicially manageable standards here."
"Consider practicality, if we issue notice, then they will file counter. By the time the case is over, the Training period will be over." - Justice Ravindra Bhat remarked.