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Ukraine Returnee Students' Plea : Supreme Court Suggests Centre To Make Web Portal With Details Of Foreign Universities

Rintu Mariam Biju
16 Sep 2022 7:46 AM GMT
Ukraine Returnee Students Plea : Supreme Court Suggests Centre To Make Web Portal With Details Of Foreign Universities
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The Supreme Court on Friday suggested that the Union Government could create a web portal containing the details of the foreign universities where the Ukraine returnee Indian medical students can complete their courses as per the academic mobility program approved by the National Medical Commission.A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia suggested that there should be...

The Supreme Court on Friday suggested that the Union Government could create a web portal containing the details of the foreign universities where the Ukraine returnee Indian medical students can complete their courses as per the academic mobility program approved by the National Medical Commission.

A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia suggested that there should be a transparent system and that the web portal could give details of the fees and the number of seats in the alternate foreign universities, which are compatible.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta said that he is not taking an "adversarial stand" and sought time to get instructions from the Union Government regarding the suggestions of the bench. The case has been accordingly adjourned till next Friday, September 23. 

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by students, who had to return from Ukraine due to the war situation, seeking permission to complete their medical education in India. The bench orally observed that while India cannot accommodate the 20,000-30,000 students, the Government could use its resources to help them in choosing the compatible foreign universities.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on September 13 filed a counter-affidavit stating that that the Ukraine returnee students can't be accommodated in Indian medical colleges, as the National Medical Commission Act has no provision to allow such transfer.

When the hearing started, one lawyer submitted that the Union Government should declare the 20,000 students who returned from Ukraine as "war victims" as per the Geneva Convention and extend them relief.

"Please don't take it to that level. You went voluntarily. You are not on battlefield", Justice Gupta orally remarked before turning to the Solicitor General of India for the Government's stance.

SG Tushar Mehta submitted that the the Government of India has taken several measures to help the students - one, the students who could not do their clinical training have been permitted to do complete the same in India and using the diplomatic relationships with Ukraine, it has been ensured that they will get their degrees. Next, the SG referred to the decision taken by the National Medical Commission to allow Ukraine students academic mobility in foreign universities, whereby those students can complete their courses from other foreign universities.

The SG also read out another circular and said that the Government of India has liasoned with some other countries. "Except these countries, other countries not compatible. Can't insist others countries with our view", the SG said.

 At this juncture, the bench asked how the students can find out the foreign universities which are compatible. The SG replied that a liasoning officer has been appointed. The bench opined that having just one officer may not be sufficient.

The bench suggested that the Union of India could develop a mechanism by which the students can choose other compatible foreign universities.

"It's better to have a transparent system. The Government of India has resources to find out which countries have so many seats. Give them options, transparent options.You develop a portal. Develop a transparent system", Justice Gupta observed.

Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid pointed out that there could be issues relating to language and fees - for example, a student who studied in an Ukranian university might find it difficult to adapt to a Polish university. Further, there could be issues related to fees.

"We have told the Solicitor General, in the web portal, give information about fee and the number of seats (of the foreign universities)", Justice Gupta told Khurshid.

"They will give all details on the portal. You want everything! If you don't understand the language, learn in your mother tongue.: If they want to complete their course, they have to find a way out", Justice Gupta added.

Senior Advocate R Basant, appearing for some petitioners, asked if the foreign universities can accommodate the students, why can't the Indian universities do the same.

"You do not have a right over Indian universities", Justice Gupta replied.

The petitioners have 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 respect of students from Ukraine.

Case Title: Archita and others versus National Medical Commission and others, WP(c) 607/2022 and 6 connected cases.

 

 

 

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