26 Aug 2022 9:09 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on a batch of petitions filed seeking the relief of allowing nearly 20,000 Indian students who had to return from Ukraine due to Russian attack to complete their medical education in India.A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath issued notice returnable by September 5 on seven writ petitions.The petitioners relied upon the...
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on a batch of petitions filed seeking the relief of allowing nearly 20,000 Indian students who had to return from Ukraine due to Russian attack to complete their medical education in India.
A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath issued notice returnable by September 5 on seven writ petitions.
The petitioners relied upon the report submitted by the the Lok Sabha Committee on External Affairs on August 3 in which it recommended the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to consider accommodating the students who returned from Ukraine in Indian private medical colleges as a one-time measure.
In view of the said recommendation, the petitioners sought appropriate decision from Government of India and the National Medical Commission in repsect of students from Ukraine.
When the matter was taken, Justice Gupta remarked, "There are 20,000 students. Do India have the capacity to accommodate these students? You are not meritorious students in India".
Senior Advocate Ravi Sikri, appearing in one of the petitions, clarified that the petitioners are not "less meritorious" and that they were constrained to go to Ukraine as they could not afford the fees of private medical colleges in India. It was pointed out that the students who went to Ukraine had also cleared the NEET test, but could not secure admission in the limited number of government seats.
"We are not going into the merit of the students. The fact is you chose Ukraine, chose not to be in India. It was a voluntary act", Justice Gupta said.
Senior Advocate R Basant, appearing for a group of students from Kerala, submitted that the they also have to meet the NEET eligibility criteria and that "it is wholly incorrect to say that they are not meritorious". He highlighted that the students cannot return to their universities in Ukraine, given the war situation there.
Basant submitted that it is an extraordinary situation, as the students who have invested their life and money for medical education had to leave their course midway due to unforeseen events.
At this juncture, the bench enquired about the policy framed by the Government of India pursuant to the earlier directions passed the Court to frame a scheme for students who could not complete foreign medical education due to the pandemic. The bench was informed that students, who have completed their courses but could not complete internship in foreign countries like China, have been allowed to do the same here. However, in the case of Ukraine students, not all of them are in the final year.
Basant submitted that the Central Government has power to issue directions to the NMC under Section 45 of the National Medical Commissin Act 2019, and such powers should be invoked to grant relaxations for the Ukraine-returned students.
"It is not that we are not qualified. If we had money, we could have gone into a private college here", Basant submitted.
Senior Advocate Manoj Swarup invited the attention of the bench to the recommendations made by the Lok Sabha panel and sought for directions to the Centre to act upon it. "Central Govt has extraordinary powers to do in a situation like this. They have not done it and we have come to court requesting to direct the Govt to do", the senior counsel submitted.
The bench then concluded the hearing and issued notice on the petition returnable on September 5.
Cases : Archita and others versus National Medical Commission and others, WP(c) 607/2022 and 6 connected cases.