COVID-19 affecting education| No registration of Doctors without practical training. Foreign Institute MBBS students must first undergo training in India: SC

Supreme Court: In a case where a student had completed 9 semesters of her academic course including clinical training in the medical colleges in China but due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, one semester was completed online and was granted MBBS degrees without any practical and clinical training in physical form, the bench of Hemant Gupta* and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ has held that without practical training, there cannot be any Doctor who is expected to take care of the citizens of the country. Hence, the decision of the National Medical Commission not to grant provisional registration cannot be said to be arbitrary.

It was argued before the Court that since the student has been declared qualified by the Foreign Institute, the only requirement before provisional registration is qualifying in the Screening Test in terms of the Screening Test Regulations, 2002. As she has qualified such Screening Test, therefore, the condition stands satisfied and hence, the decision of the Medical Council not to grant provisional registration is not justified in law. However, as admitted by the student that she had not undergone the practical and clinical training in the physical form, though she had undergone the course through online mode for the entire duration.

The Court observed,

“No doubt, the pandemic has thrown new challenges to the entire world including the students but granting provisional registration to complete internship to a student who has not undergone clinical training would be compromising with the health of the citizens of any country and the health infrastructure at large.”

Concerned with the fate of the student and other similarly situated students, the Court said such national resource cannot be permitted to be wasted which will affect the life of young students, who had taken admission in the foreign Institutes as part of their career prospects. Therefore, the services of the students should be used to augment health infrastructure in the country. Thus, it would be necessary that the students undergo actual clinical training of such duration and at such institutes which are identified by the appellant and on such terms and conditions, including the charges for imparting such training, as may be notified by the National Medical Commission.

Therefore, the Court directed the National Medical Commission

  1. to frame a scheme as a one time measure within two months to allow the student and such similarly situated students who have not actually completed clinical training to undergo clinical training in India in the medical colleges which may be identified by the National Medical Commission for a limited duration as may be specified by the National Medical Commission, on such charges which the National Medical Commission determines.
  2. It shall be open to the National Medical Commission to test the candidates in the scheme so framed in the manner within next one month, which it considers appropriate as to satisfy that such students are sufficiently trained to be provisionally registered to complete internship for 12 months.

[National Medical Commission v. Pooja Thandu Naresh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 528, decided on 29.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Hemant Gupta


Counsels

For National Medical Commission: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh

For Student: Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu

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