In a recent landmark development, the Indian government has told the Supreme Court that Ukraine-returned medical students cannot be accommodated in Indian medical colleges as there is no such provision allowing it in the National Medical Commission Act.
In a counter affidavit filed by the Centre in Supreme Court, it stated that allowing such relaxation will affect the medical education standards in India. The Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare filed the affidavit owing to petitions from Indian students who had to leave their medical studies in Ukraine after Russia’s attack in February-March 2022.
The reasons stated by the Centre for students going to Ukraine to study MBBS are poor NEET results and affordable education. Allowing students with poor merit in the top medical colleges in India can lead to other litigations by other students who could not get seats in these in these colleges or study in less popular colleges.
Also, MBBS students from Ukraine will not be able to afford the high fee structure in the private colleges in India.
The centre further claimed that the NMC’s public notice issued on September 6, 2022, is no objection to academic mobility between foreign medical universities for students who had to leave their studies midway. However, backdoor entry to Indian medical colleges is not sanctioned by the notice.
The Centre has lent its full assistance to students who have returned from Ukraine while balancing it with the requisite standards for medical education in India.
The MBBS petitioners counted on the Lok Sabha Committee on External Affairs’ report in which it recommended the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare consider accommodating Indian students from Ukraine as a one-time measure. They sought appropriate decisions from the Indian government and NMC.
In the previous hearing on the matter, the Supreme Court bench had enquired about the schemes designed by the Government of India for students who were unable to complete their education due to the pandemic. They stated that final-year students will be allowed to do internships in India. However, not all the students who have returned are in the final year of their studies.
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