The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a prayer made in a petition filed by a group of Post Graduate medical students seeking the waiver of final exams in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah observed 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 asked during the hearing.
The bench has however issued notice to the Union Government and National Medical Commission on the other prayers made in the writ petition(Shashidhar A and others v Union of India and others)
Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the final year doctors, submitted that these doctors have completed three years of post graduation and due to Covid, they are stuck in between unless a fresh lot comes through entrance exams. He submitted that they have been subjected to continuous internal evaluation over the past three years and that they be declared as qualified based on internal assessment in view of the emergency situation.
"During the China war, PG students were allowed to be postgraduates even without an exam", he submitted.
Mr. Hegde stated that all these Doctors are in different Colleges and Universities, and have sought the Court's intervention to see if something can be worked out, as even though the National Medical Commission realizes the problem, its hands are tied.
Justice Banerjee asked Mr.Hegde as to how the Court can take a decision to waive an examination. She added that the Court can understand a submission or a suggestion of arbitrariness in holding the exam on a particular date but how can 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, only in exceptional cases were we find real arbitrariness and real prejudice.
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 said.
Justice Shah 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 said.
After Court expressed its disinclination to waive the exam, Senior Counsel Hegde requested the Court to ask the National Medical Commission if something can 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 remarked
"We understand and know about what the Doctors are doing. But the question is, can we say 'No exams'?" the Bench asked.
"The court need not say it. I'm asking the court to ask the authorities 'Can you do something?'", Mr.Hegde said.
Noting that the bench has stayed the AIIMS INCET exam for a month, Hegde urged the bench to grant similar amount of time for the final year PG students to prepare for the exam.
Sensing the disinclination of the bench, Hegde submitted that he was not pressing the prayer for waiver of exams, and requested for consideration of other prayers.
"Prayer 1- I don't press it, please consider the other prayers. Please give us a month or same time as given to those entering Post graduation. This kind of delay has its own ramifications on us".
The bench agreed to issue notice on the other prayers in the petition.
"Mr Hegde submits on instructions that petitioners will not press the First Prayer. Notice be given to Union of India and National Medical Commission", the bench noted in the order.
The matter will be considered on next Friday.
The prayers in the petitioner were :
(1)Issue writ of mandamus directing the respondents to, issue necessary directions waiving the final examination of final year post graduate medical residents.
(2). Issue appropriate writ(s)/directions(s) for promoting the petitioners as senior residents and post-doctoral students as soon as the scheduled tenure completion of three or two years (whichever applicable) along with pay scale and other allowances.
(3) Issue appropriate writ(s)/directions(s) for constitution of a joint expert committee for examining and recommending on the prayers of this petition and its recommendations, shall be binding on all the respondents.