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[BREAKING] Post Graduate Medical Courses : Supreme Court Rejects MD Students' Plea To Postpone Final Year Exams

Srishti Ojha
18 Jun 2021 6:28 AM GMT
[BREAKING] Post Graduate Medical Courses : Supreme Court Rejects MD Students Plea To Postpone Final Year Exams
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The Court observed that general orders can't be passed when several universities across the country are involved.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass orders for postponement of final year examinations of Post Graduate medical courses in a a plea filed by a group of 29 Doctors Post-graduate Medical Residents.A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah observed that the dates of exams are to be announced by several universities spread over the country and hence no...

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The Supreme Court  on Friday refused to pass orders for postponement of final year examinations of Post Graduate medical courses in a a plea filed by a group of 29 Doctors Post-graduate Medical Residents.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah observed that the dates of exams are to be announced by several universities spread over the country and hence no general orders can be passed by the Court. The different medical universities are not made parties in the case, the bench noted.

"How can we pass a general order when there are 100s of universities involved all over the country?", Justice Banerjee asked.

The bench observed that wherever relief was possible, the court has granted it, such as the postponement of the INI CET exam which was ordered by the court last week. However, this was a case where the court cannot grant relief, the bench added.

The bench also noted that the National Medical Commission, represented by Advocate Gaurav Sharma, has advised the universities to fix the exam dates taking into account the pandemic situation.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that asking the MD students, who are attending COVID duties as frontline warriors, to prepare for exams simultaneously was unfair.

"We are forced to make a choice between attending Covid duty and studying for exam. We have been doing it for a very long time in extra ordinary circumstances", Hegde submitted.

The bench observed that it understood the hardships of PG medical students who are doing service as COVID warriors; however, the bench added that it was not in a position to order postponement of examinations for which dates are yet to be announced by different universities spread across the country.

When Mr.Hegde persuaded the bench to at least order NMC to grant reasonable time for the students to prepare for the exams, the bench said that the concept of 'reasonable time' was subjective.

"For brother Justice Shah, 15 days might be reasonable time for exam preparation. For me, it could be 150 days", Justice Banerjee quipped.

Mr.Hegde also pressed for a prayer to notionally promote the PG students doing COVID duties as senior residents without exams. However, the bench said that it cannot order promotion without examinations.

A vacation bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah had on the last hearing refused to allow the waiver of the exams and had noted that the prayer will not be pressed by the petitioners. The Bench today heard the matter with regards to the other prayers on which it had issued notice to the Union Government and National Medical Commission, on the last occasion.

Apart from the prayer seeking waiver of the final exams which was rejected by the Bench on June 11th, the Petitioners have sought directions for promoting them as Senior Residents and Post-Doctoral students as soon as the scheduled tenure of three or two years gets completed, along with pay scale and other allowances.

They had also sought constitution of a Joint Expert Committee for examining and recommending on their prayers.

The Petitioners also challenged the notifications issued by National Medical Commission on 22nd April and 27th April 2021 whereby on one hand it had advised the Medical Colleges to further continue taking the services of PG Final year Medical students/Residents to keep up the fight against the pandemic and on the other it advised the Universities to decide the time and method of Postgraduate Practical Final Examination.

Court's Refusal To Waive Exams:

The Supreme Court had on June 11th rejected a prayer made in the present petition by a group of Post Graduate medical students seeking the waiver of final exams in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, observing that the Court cannot pass orders for waiver of exams as it was an educational policy matter.

"They will be treating patients. How can they be in hands of people who haven't cleared exams?", the Bench had asked during the hearing.

The bench had however issued notice to the Union Government and National Medical Commission on the other prayers made in the writ petition.

In response to submissions made by Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde appearing for the Doctors in favour of waiver of exams, the Bench had asked him as to how the Court could take a decision to waive an examination.

The Bench had added that the Court can understand a submission or a suggestion of arbitrariness in holding the exam on a particular date but how could the Court say that no exam should be held at all.

"It is a policy decision and its also not in larger interest to waive the examination. You are well aware of limitations of our power, and cases in which we exercise jurisdiction are only in exceptional cases were we find real arbitrariness and real prejudice." the Bench had said.

"These things come in realm of policies. Why should the Court even apply its mind to as to whether the exams should be held or not." Justice Banerjee had said.

Justice Shah had stated that these Doctors are to become Senior Residents and will thereafter treat patients. "How can they be in hands of people who haven't cleared exams." he had said.

After the Court had expressed its disinclination to waive the exam, Senior Counsel Hegde had requested the Court to ask the National Medical Commission if something could be done on the issue, and come out with a proposal.

"There are limitations on writ jurisdiction except in exceptional circumstances. This is not only an exceptional but also a calamitous circumstance", Mr. Hegde had remarked

"We understand and know about what the Doctors are doing. But the question is, can we say 'No exams'?" the Bench had asked.

"The court need not say it. I'm asking the court to ask the authorities 'Can you do something?'", Mr.Hegde had said.

Sensing the disinclination of the bench, Hegde had submitted that he was not pressing the prayer for waiver of exams, and requested for consideration of other prayers. The bench noting Mr Hegde's submission that they will not press the prayer seeking waiver, had then agreed to issue notice on the other prayers in the petition.

(Shashidhar A and others v Union of India and others)

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