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'Country Needs Really Qualified Doctors': Supreme Court Upholds NMC Regulations For Foreign Medical Graduates

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
12 May 2022 12:42 PM GMT
Post Graduate Medical Courses : Supreme Court Rejects MD Students
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The Supreme Court has upheld the validity of Regulations 4(a)(i), 4(a)(ii), 4(b) & 4(c) of the National Medical Commission (Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate) Regulations 2021, Schedule ­II 2(a) and 2(c)(i) of the National Medical Commission (Compulsory Rotating Medical Internship) Regulations, 2021.

The court held that the National Medical Commission has power to frame these Regulations for foreign medical graduates.

"It is true that the country needs more doctors, but it needs really qualified doctors and not persons trained by institutions abroad, to test their skills only in their mother land.", the bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian observed.

The court was considering the appeal challenging the Madras High Court which had earlier dismissed the writ petition filed by a student who wanted to join an Under Graduate Medical Course in Anna Medical College, Mauritius.

The argument of the appellant-petitioner was that the Licentiate and CRMI Regulations, imposes heavy and arbitrary burden upon students who want to pursue medical education abroad.

While dismissing the appeal, the Apex Court bench made the following observations:

On Licentiate Regulations

Prescription of minimum standards would certainly include the prescription of the minimum duration for a course. It may be open to the medical institutions of other countries to prescribe a duration of less than 54 months for the students of their country. But it is not necessary for the NMC and the Central Government to recognise foreign medical degrees of a lesser duration, if the incumbent wants to have permanent registration in India...


The prescription of an internship for a minimum duration of 12 months in the same foreign medical institution cannot also be said to be a duplication of internships. The purpose of internship is to test the ability of the students to apply their academic knowledge on their subjects, namely the patients. Medical institutions of other countries may not insist on rigorous internship for students who may not put to test their skills on the population of their country. But it is not necessary for us to follow suit...


The requirement under Regulation 4(b) has been necessitated to ensure that the students who were imparted medical education in a foreign country demonstrate their skills first on the population of the country where they studied. The necessity for a Master Chef to taste the food prepared by him, before it is served on the guests, cannot be said to be arbitrary

Country needs really qualified doctors

The contention that the country needs more doctors and that by restricting the registration of foreign medical graduates, the fundamental right of the professionals under Article 19(1)(g) and the fundamental right of the citizens under Article 21 are impaired, is to be stated only to be rejected. It is true that the country needs more doctors, but it needs really qualified doctors and not persons trained by institutions abroad, to test their skills only in their mother land.

Regulations do not encroach into the sovereignty of the countries

Regulations do not encroach into the sovereignty of the countries where those institutions are located, by stipulating minimum standards for the students who want to practise there. These Regulations merely prescribe the minimum standards to be fulfilled by those who study in those institutions but who want to practise here in India

On CRMI Regulations

The mad rush to become qualified medical professionals, cannot drive them to countries where short­cuts to success are offered.

If there are institutions in some countries which offer primary medical qualification without mandatory internship, the students are supposed not to seek admissions in those institutions. The mad rush to become qualified medical professionals, cannot drive them to countries where short­cuts to success are offered. The requirement under Para 2(a) of Schedule­ II of these Regulations for foreign medical graduates to undergo internships at par with Indian medical graduates is to ensure that only those who have acquired similar skills are allowed to practice Medicine.


The prescription in para 2(c)(i) of Schedule II of these Regulations that such foreign medical graduates may be posted first in colleges which have been newly opened and have yet to be recognised, is a prescription of necessity. All medical institutions of the country are equipped to provide internships only to as many students as their permitted intake may allow. Therefore, this Regulation is intended to ensure that an undue burden is not cast upon the already recognised institutions


While dismissing the appeal, the bench also waived the costs imposed by the High Court on the petition and observed thus:

"We could have dismissed the SLPs in limine, but we thought fit to take pains to bring on record the historical facts so that the challenge to these Regulations are nipped in the bud and they do not surface in a different form or avatar.. In view of the above, the appeals are dismissed. However, the costs imposed by the High Court of Madras upon the appellant is waived off, taking into account of the fact that he is a student and also for the purpose of showing the only extent to which, a court can show sympathy in such matters."


Case details

Aravinth R.A. vs Secretary To Government Of India Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 473 | CA 3585-­3586 OF 2022 | 2 May 2022

Coram: Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian

Headnotes

National Medical Commission (Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate) Regulations 2021 ; Regulations 4(a)(i), 4(a)(ii), 4(b) & 4(c) - National Medical Commission (Compulsory Rotating Medical Internship) Regulations, 2021 ; Schedule ­II 2(a) and 2(c)(i) - Constitutional validity upheld - NMC has the power to frame the Regulations - Regulations not arbitrary - Not necessary for the NMC and the Central Government to recognise foreign medical degrees of a lesser duration - The prescription of an internship for a minimum duration of 12 months in the same foreign medical institution cannot also be said to be a duplication of internships.

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