Doctors are considered as earthly equivalents of Bhagwans. Logically, common sense suggests that they must go through strict regulatory checkpoints. Let me tell you, compared to an engineering degree, MBBS regulators normally act as if they are doling out freebies. It was reflected in the recent Delhi High Court judgement.
4 time first semester failures in court
According to regulations by the National Medical Commission, MBBS students are given 4 attempts to clear their first-year examinations. Even after that, a few students could not clear their examinations in 1460 days.
So, they went to the Delhi High Court and challenged Regulation 7.7 of ‘Regulations on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment), 2019’ The gravity of their concerns can be gauged from the fact that it was a writ petition under Article 226 read with 227 of the Constitution.
They argued that the 2019 regulations violate Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Citing the Rohit Naresh Aggarwal Case, they contended that the regulations do not apply to their batch of students.
To be on the safe side, they even questioned the powers of the Medical Council of India to frame these regulations. Additionally, they also asked the court to give them one more chance because they suffered damages during COVID.
Legitimate as well as Constitutional
Regarding the constitutionality of the regulation, the Delhi High Court held that it is on the students to prove it unconstitutional. The court’s reasoning was drawn from the P. Krishnamurthy, Indian Express, and Biyani Shiksha Samiti cases. Students could not prove them unconstitutional.
Contentions regarding the powers of MCI were nullified when the Union government told the Delhi High Court that regulations were brought in accordance with Section 56 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
The government has the power to make rules for ensuring quality
The next question left was to check the government’s power to determine the extent to which it can go in ensuring quality in medical education. Relying on Preeti Srivastava‘s Modern Dental College & Research Centre cases, the government urged that it is the state’s prerogative to determine the calibre of students. Referring to the Neha and Anil Bobde cases, the government argued that judicial review acts in a constricted space when it comes to educational policies.
Despite these submissions, the government and medical bodies defended their decisions in full. They explained to the High Court that the reason why that regulation was brought was to ensure merit in the noble profession. It sought to pave the way for disinterested students to leave the course at the earliest possible time and pursue their areas of interest.
Explaining the positive impacts of the regulations, the government submitted, “This also ensures that the precious resources of State universities are preserved and directed towards providing quality medical education to candidates who have shown a sustained interest and predisposition to medical sciences.”
The Delhi High Court had no problem accepting these explanations. It held that practitioners of medicine serve the general public at large. Ultimately, the burden of anything going wrong with public health falls on the government.
In regards to the responsibility accorded to it, there needs to be a corresponding power to execute these mandates. Giving reasons along these lines, the Delhi High Court said that the regulation brought in 2019 is not arbitrary but instead a well-thought one.
Infinite opportunity is not a legitimate expectation
The Delhi High Court also took these students to task when they contended that the 2019 regulation being applied in retrospect is harming their right to appear in examinations. The court categorically told them that their chances of reappearing in semester examinations were not vested in them. Instead, it depends on the state to decide how many times a student can appear in any semester.
Then these students contended that they did not know the rule, which is why they expected infinite chances. The High Court told them that in such cases, the interest of the general public takes priority over the interests of litigants. In this case, their expectations stood in contrast to the interests of the general public. Additionally, regulations were not an abuse of power, so there was no point in taking them down.
The petition was dismissed, and students had to return empty-handed. It is a quiet beginning, and soon the sword of quality control will fall on the whole medical sector. Unlike engineering, medical students can appear for an infinite number of times in NEET. This ultimately leads to degradation in quality as older candidates are bereft of passion compared to their younger counterparts. Next in line is regulating the entrance examinations.
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