Supreme Court has on Wednesday dismissed the plea by the Association of Diplomate of National Board Doctors challenging the National Board of Examination's notice that extended training of the DNB candidates by 3 months due to Covid19. The plea argued that the decision is prejudicial to the career of the students who helped the Nation fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
A division Bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat heard the plea that contended that the National Board of examination, not being a statutory body did not have the right to issue the notification, and is bound to follow directions of National Medical Commission.
During the hearing today, Advocate Tanmaya Mehta appearing on behalf of the petitioner association that it is a pan India issue, a question of vires, and the Court should interfere.
"Why should we interfere when half of it is over. Just finish your training. The court doesn't have any judicially manageable standards here." the Bench observed.
Adv Mehta submitted that NBE being a non-statutory body cannot interfere in this manner. He added that it is also a case of over classification as many hospitals and trainings have continued. There has also been discrimination within the same class as several other DNB students were allowed to continue the training.
"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.
The plea was filed by Advocates Puneet Yadav, Sourabh Gupta and Aakarsh Kamra from Samaya Law Chambers, on behalf of the petitioners.
The petitioner in this case is a duly registered society with doctors presently pursuing 3rd/Final years of DNB courses throughout the country in various institutions as members. The members of and were to appear in the forthcoming practical and theory examination and their training is extended by 3 months period by the Impugned Notification.
The subject matter of the petition is a notice issued by the NBE on 18th January 2021 whereby the training of the DNB 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:
- DNB Broad specialty (Post MBBS) 2018 session
- DNB Super Specialty 2018
- DNB Broad Specialty (Post Diploma) 2019 and FNB 2019.
The plea alleged 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.
According to the petitioner NBE is bound to follow the PGME Guidelines of 2000 and the directions of the National Medical Commission, a statutory body formulated under the National Medical Commission Act, 2019. The impugned 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.
The plea submitted that no such extension has been directed in the case of MD/MS postgraduates 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 exam status on the basis of completion of 3 years of training. The 2017 batch of NBE trainees have received the training completion certificate without any extension and therefore there has been disparity between the two batches of students.
The petitioner submitted that there are hundreds of students who have bonds to clear for which they have been assigned post by state agencies. Such an arbitrary extension would result in the loss of entire year and cause irreparable harm to the academic and professional life of many individuals. The students will loose 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.
The petitioner further argued the training obtained for the COVID-19 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.