Supreme Court refuses to waive off final exams of PG courses

They will be treating patients. How can they be in hands of people who have not cleared exams?

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Justice Court
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Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by The Health Master

The Supreme Court has rejected a petition filed a group of resident doctors pursuing postgraduate courses seeking waiver of their final examination due to C-19 duty.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah on June 11, 2021 refused to pass orders for waiver of exams, saying that it was an education policy issue and it was not in larger public interest to waive the exams.

While hearing the petition filed by a group of 29 resident doctors pursuing PG courses, the bench asked, “They will be treating patients. How can they be in hands of people who have not cleared exams?”

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However, the bench agreed to issue notice to the central government and National Medical Commission on constitution of a joint expert panel to look into waiver of final exams and promotion of the petitioners as senior residents and post-doctoral students as soon as completion of the scheduled tenure of three or two years (whichever applicable) along with pay scale and other allowances.

Earlier, the final year PG students used to get a study leave of about two months for preparing for their final examination but owing to pandemic duty they have not been given even one day for preparation.

NMC in a notification dated April 22, 2021 directed the universities to decide the date, time and method of final exams of PG resident doctors taking into consideration the pandemic situation in their area.

In another notification on April 27, 2021 the commission recognised the contribution of final year PG students in fight against C-19 and directed continuation of their residency period until fresh batches of PG students joined.

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The petitioners challenged the notifications issued by NMC on April 22, 2021 and April 27, 2021 and appealed to the court to declare the notifications unconstitutional and ultra vires and direct the central government and NMC to waive the final exams of their final year courses and promote them as senior resident doctors and post-doctoral students on completion of their tenure (two/three years) along with pay scale and other perks.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners stated that they have completed three years of post graduation and are stuck in between unless a fresh batch comes through entrance exams.

He submitted that they have undergone constant internal evaluation during their courses spanning over three years and that they be declared as qualified based on internal evaluation in the wake of pandemic situation.

He pointed out that earlier PG students were exempted from the final exams exam during the China war. Replying to advocate Hegde, Justice Banerjee said it was not in the purview of the court to decide on waiver of an exam. This was policy matter.

Justice Shah stated that these doctors will become senior residents and treat patients. “How can they be in hands of people who have not cleared exams?” he asked. Once the court refused to entertain the petition on cancellation of final exams, Hegde requested the court to issue direction to NMC to come out with a proposal on waiver of exams.

The bench again reiterated that it could not interfere in the matter. Observing that the bench has granted a stay on the AIIMS INCET exam for a month, Hegde appealed to the bench to give similar amount of time for the PG doctors to prepare for the exams.

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