Delhi HC Grants Relief To Doctors Who Were Denied Admission in PG Courses For Not Producing Original MBBS Degree During Counseling [Read Judgment]
Delhi High Court has granted relief to two doctors who were denied admissions by NBE on the account of not producing the original copy of their MBBS degree at the time of counselling.
The present writ petition arises from the decision of the National Board of Examination (NBE) denying seats to two candidates in postgraduate DNB course for not producing their original MBBS degree certificates on the date of the final round of counselling.
NBE based its decision on the provision incorporated in its Handbook for Admission to DNB Broad Specialty Courses which stipulates a list of documents to be produced in original, failing which the candidate shall not be allowed to participate in the counselling.
There were two Petitioners in this case. One received her MBBS degree within the cut-off period while the other got her's post the cut-off date.
One of the aggrieved Petitioners contended that as per point no. 9 at page no. 19 read with proviso of the Handbook, she could have presented the original MBBS degree certificate even at the time of joining the allotted institute. It was asserted that she had sought time to produce the same even via fax but that request was rejected.
It was also submitted by the Petitioners that since this aspect concerned only about placement of relevant proof before the NBE concerning the fulfillment of the eligibility criteria (i.e. the basic qualification), the NBE could not have rejected the Petitioners' claim to the seat only because the mode of proof was different from the one prescribed.
Further, it was also argued that since the Petitioners met the eligibility criteria, the NBE should've given time to the Petitioners to place the original MBBS degree certificate on record, at least till the date of joining, if not later.
Appearing for the NBE, Mr Kirtiman Singh submitted that the Petitioners could not take advantage of the error committed in the CPL for the reason that the documents/certificates that the candidates had to produce on the day of the final round of the counselling were listed out not only in the handbook but also in the two public notices dated 25.03.2019 and 04.06.2019.
Mr Singh further argued that production of original MBBS degree or the letter from the competent authority of the concerned University/Board that original MBBS degree had not been issued to the candidates was necessary as such process prevented seats from being blocked and reduced substantially the probability of seats being wasted.
While considering the clauses of the proviso, the court observed that the interpretation of the clause should be such that it balances the interest of not only the candidate who is being considered for allotment of the seat but of all those who are waiting in the queue.
In the case of one of the Petitioners who had received her MBBS before the cut-off date, the court went on to hold that the NBE misapplied paragraph 7.4.4(a) of the Handbook by not granting her time to produce the original MBBS degree or a letter from the competent authority that she had not been issued the MBBS degree certificate till the date of joining the allotted institute.
The court also granted relief to the other Petitioner who had received her MBBS degree after the cut-off date as she had placed all her hopes in the present process and there was a seat available in one of the colleges of her choice.
In order to make sure that no such controversy arises in future, the court laid down following suggestions for the NBE:
- Where the eligibility qualification or eligibility criteria are met after the cut-off date, the candidate can seek admission only in the academic sessions which would follow thereafter.
- In case, a candidate can place on record material which unerringly points to the direction that he or she has acquired the eligibility criteria, latitude should be given to produce the original certificate(s), albeit, within a reasonable time.
- The Counselling Committees or authorities who were charged should be able to use information technology tools to establish contact with their counterparts so that deserving candidates do not lose their chance of admittance to the designated course only because they do not have in their possession the original certificate(s).
- Medical Boards will do well if they were to upload the particulars of doctors registered with them on their respective web-portals. This would enable the counselling committees to cross-verify the information given by the candidates at the touch of a button.