Relief for MBBS Students Who Came Back From Ukraine, China as SC Grants Two Attempts to Clear Exams

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By Education Today

Posted on March 29, 2023


4 min read

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Undergraduate medical students who had to return from Ukraine and China in their penultimate year of study will get two attempts to clear their final MBBS exams in India.

The centre expressed its willingness to offer them one chance to pass the exam as recommended by an expert Committee, and the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to this one-time exception. The SC bench of Justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath changed the proposal to enable two chances even though the centre had only suggested one.

With one small change, we accept the committee’s findings. The court ruled that “student being offered a single chance to clear MBBS Final, both Part I and Part II Examinations, be read as student being offered single/two chances to clear both Part I and Part II Examinations (theory and practical)”. It also stated that “the two chances will be for both Part I and Part II Examinations.”
The court was considering a petition from medical students who were forced to return from institutions overseas as a result of COVID-19 and the Ukraine-Russia war.

The SC requested the Union Ministries of Health, Home, and External Affairs to “find a solution to this humane situation” in cooperation with the National Medical Commission after hearing it on December 9, 2022. (NMC). The centre “may consider appointing a Committee…to find a remedy,” the court continued.

The centre notified the SC in an affidavit it submitted in response to the directive that a committee had been constituted as a result, headed by the Director General of Health Service (DGHS), and made up of officials from the NMC and the three ministries.

According to the affidavit, the Committee discussed the matter, and during that time, representatives from different states “voiced their reservation on the quality of education and training the FMGs (Foreign Medical Graduates) (might have) and hence had reservations about accommodating them in colleges mid-course.”

It was noted that the Committee had recommended, following discussions, that students who were required to return in their penultimate year and then pursue online coursework “may be offered a single chance to clear the MBBS Final, both Part I and Part II Examinations (both theory and practical) as per existing NMC syllabus and guidelines without being enrolled in any of the existing Indian medical colleges. Within a year, they can take the exam and pass it. After a year, Part I will be followed by Part II. Only after Part I has passed will Part II be accepted.

The Committee also advised that “the practical examination might be administered by designated medical colleges, allocated the responsibility and the theory examination could be done centrally and physically, on the pattern of Indian MBBS examination.”

The Committee advised and stressed that “this…strictly be a one-time option and not become a basis for similar decisions in the future and shall be applicable for present matter only in view of the” court’s directions that “after clearing these two examinations, they would have to complete 2 years of mandatory rotatory internship, first year of which will be free and the second year paid as has been decided by NMC for previous cases”.

Counsel appearing for the students however questioned the recommendations and contended that the government had erected yet another hurdle for the students.

They also raised doubts whether one chance would be sufficient given the difference in the syllabi followed in India and abroad.

The bench agreed that the move to allow them only once chance may be insufficient and directed that this be modified as two attempts. It however refused to intervene with any of the other recommendations of the expert committee.