Supreme Court Refuses To Transfer Petitions Filed In High Courts Against NMC Regulations Limiting Number Of Exam Attempts

Supreme Court Medical Commission

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition which sought to transfer the petitions filed in different High Courts challenging the rule made by the National Medical Commission in 2019 limiting the number of attempts to clear the first year of MBBS course as four.

The petition was filed seeking to transfer to the Supreme Court the writ petitions filed in the High Courts of Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana. The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli expressed disinclination to entertain the petition, especially after noting that the Delhi High Court has decided the matter by upholding the rule by its judgment delivered on November 17

The issue relates to Regulation 7.7 of Regulations on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment), 2019 notified by the NMC on 04.11.2019 which mandate that “no more than four attempts shall be allowed for a candidate to pass the first Professional examination”. The regulation also states that “the total period for successful completion of first Professional course shall not exceed four (4) years”.

The counsel for the petitioners submitted before the bench that the issue affects a large number of medical students across the country and that the High Courts are taking contrary views. He told the bench that the Delhi High Court has held that Regulation 7.7 has to be followed in letter and spirit. However, the Karnataka High Court has taken a liberal view, allowing students to give exams even after four attempts. The Rajasthan High Court has adjourned the hearing without passing interim orders.

The counsel said that applying the 2019 regulation retrospectively to batches which commenced before 2019 will result in grave hardship, especially in view of the fact that courses were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

When the bench asked who the petitioners are, the counsel replied that three of them have filed petitions before the Rajasthan High Court and one of them had approached the Delhi High Court.

When the Delhi High Court has already decided the matter, there is no question of transferring the matter to the Supreme Court, the bench said. The bench suggested the petitioners pursue their remedy before the Rajasthan High Court. It further said that it will cause hardship to students if the petitions are transferred to one single High Court.

“Look how hard it will be…. if we transfer the petition to Kerala, the students from villages in Rajasthan, will they be able to pursue before the Kerala High Court? Or if we transfer to Rajasthan, can students from Kerala pursue the matter in Rajasthan?”, CJI Chandrachud asked.

The bench also said that the Supreme Court can decide the issue if any special leave petition is filed against the Delhi High Court’s judgment. As the counsel sought liberty to withdraw the transfer petition, the bench dismissed it as withdrawn.

The Kerala High Court has passed an interim order protecting students from coercive action under the impugned regulation.

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