17 Jan 2023 7:54 AM GMT
The Supreme Court of India on Monday sought the stand of the Centre and the National Medical Commission on a plea against a circular retrospectively requiring foreign medical graduates without clinical training to undergo a Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CRMI) for two years instead of one. A division bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Vikram Nath, directed this matter to...
The Supreme Court of India on Monday sought the stand of the Centre and the National Medical Commission on a plea against a circular retrospectively requiring foreign medical graduates without clinical training to undergo a Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CRMI) for two years instead of one. A division bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Vikram Nath, directed this matter to be heard along with a batch of petitions filed by foreign graduates from China, Ukraine, Philippines, who were unable to complete clinical training because of intervening circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the Russia-Ukraine war, and consequently, wanted to be accommodated within the Indian medical education architecture. The batch of petitions will be heard on Wednesday, January 25.
The bench headed by Justice Gavai was informed by Advocate Shivam Singh that the scheme framed by the National Medical Commission, pursuant to an April 2022 ruling, allowing foreign graduates who were unable to complete clinical training to secure provisional registration in India after completing an internship of two years, was made to retrospectively cover even such foreign medical students who had already received their provisional or permanent registration certificates. The effect of this circular was that the registration of such doctors, despite them having treated patients for several months, stood cancelled and the certificates already issued by state medical councils were revoked.
Urging the court to hold in abeyance, the disqualification notice vis-à-vis the petitioners who had already obtained permanent registration certificates, Singh argued, “The petitioners are not shying away from an opportunity to gain more experience. But they are in a situation where the court has directed the centre and the commission to devise a workable solution for the junior batch that has completed three semesters online, whereas the petitioners have had only one remote semester. That too, at a time when the pandemic was waging – between January and May 2020. After that, the petitioners have also qualified the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination and secured their provisional medical registration.”
The bench expressed its disinclination to grant any interim relief immediately and asked the petitioners to wait till the next hearing. Justice Gavai said, “The petitioners can wait for nine days. If we deem fit, we will set aside the disqualification then.” On behalf of the bench, he pronounced, “Issue notice returnable on January 25. The petitioners have also been granted the liberty to serve the standing counsel for the first respondent and the central agency for the other respondent.”
The petitioners have contended that the notice issued on July 28, 2022, was, inter alia, contrary to the principles of equity and fair play, and the doctrine of legitimate expectations, besides being violative of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, and 21. The retrospectivity of the circular has also been called in question. The petition was filed through Advocate-on-Record, Gopal Singh. Advocates Shivam Singh and Shaswati Parhi appeared for the petitioners.
Singh told LiveLaw, “The petition challenges the National Medical Commission’s powers to retrospectively impose conditions and even deregister doctors. In case the impugned circular is allowed to operate, then it introduces uncertainty in the lives of doctors who have already studied for several years. Additionally, it is a classic case of changing the rules of the game after the game has started.”
In April of last year, a division bench headed by Justice Hemant Gupta had directed the National Medical Commission to frame a scheme to allow students of the batch 2015-20 who were unable to undergo their clinical training to complete it in medical colleges identified by the commission, while hearing an appeal against a Madras High Court direction to allow such a student to be provisionally registered. In December, while hearing similar petitions by foreign medical graduates of the batch 2016-21, the top court left it to the centre and the National Medical Commission to find a solution, but urged them to look at the problem from a humanitarian angle.
Gurmukh Singh & Ors. v. National Medical Commission & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 25/2023