Delhi HC denies relief to FMGE pass candidates seeking PG Medical Admissions in AIIMS
Upholding Single Judge order, the double bench dismissed the plea filed by various MBBS medicos, seeking to direct premier institute All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to consider candidates with 50% marks in the FMGE to apply for the PG Course in the institute for 2019 session.
The petition was filed by Dr Rajat Dhuan and other candidates who had obtained his MBBS degrees from abroad between the years 2011 and 2018. They further passed a Screening Test (FMGE) conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) for the purposes of registration with MCI, thereby, making him eligible to practice in India.
However, the PG Course prospectus released by AIIMS for July 2019 session had prescribed that only those persons who had obtained 55% marks in the FMGE, were eligible to apply for the PG Course in the institute.
This was challenged by the petitioners in the court where a Single Judge had dismissed the plea via an order dated 21 August 2019, on the grounds that the court cannot enter into the domain of academic expertise, set up its own measure of merit and impose it on the universities and other institutions. The court had held;
"There was no doctrine of promissory estoppel in relation to academic pursuits and since the eligibility criteria of 55% marks in the FMGE were prescribed only for admission to the AIIMS, it was open to the appellants/petitioners to seek admission to post-graduate courses in educational institutions other than the AIIMS."
Aggrieved by the decision, the petitioner moved the before a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Asha Menon seeking to set aside the judgement by the Single Judge and direct AIIMS to treat foreign medical graduates and Indian medical graduates on an equal footing and to consider the marks obtained by them in the MBBS degree examination alone for the PG Course admission for the July, 2019 session and in all future sessions.
The petitioner submitted that the sudden variation in the eligibility criteria for the PG admission by AIIMS had deprived them of appearing for the same as candidates were now required to additionally obtain more than 50% marks in the FMGE, i.e. 55% marks, which acted to his disadvantage and inflicted an undue hardship. Moreover, the decision by the Single Judge being discriminatory in nature was liable to be set aside, the petition stated.
The petitioners further added that till January 2019, the prospectus had not made any differentiation between the Indian medical students and foreign medical students and all of them were required to obtain 55% marks in their MBBS degree to sit for the competitive exam.
Deliberating the case, the bench upheld the Single Judge's observation that it is not as if, the petitioner is completely debarred from applying for any PG course conducted by any other institute in this country. Only because they cannot seek admission in AIIMS, cannot be a ground for the appellants/petitioners to claim prejudice.
The court also observed that it is most unwarranted to interfere with the standards,(particularly if it would result in their dilution) of academic excellence prescribed by the academicians, who are experts in their field.
The bench further noted that the purpose of the FMGE Screening Test conducted by MCI and the NBE and the purpose of
the examination conducted by AIIMS are not one and the same. The bench added that the purpose of the examination conducted by AIIMS is to take candidates with a good academic background into the PG courses conducted by it.
"AIIMS is a premier institute of India for medical research and treatment. The eligibility criteria prescribed by the respondents AIIMS is strictly for the purpose of admission to its PG courses. There can be no bar on an institute on setting higher standards than those prescribed as a minimum by MCI or any other institute offering the same course," the court noted
"Other centres may not necessarily impose the same rigorous eligibility criteria for the subject course. Therefore, students who do not succeed in the entrance examination for the PG Course offered by AIIMS on the basis of the prescribed eligibility criteria can always seek admission in other medical colleges and institutes," it added.
The bench finally dismissed the petition and held;
The learned Single Judge has rightly held that the principle of promissory estoppel is inapplicable to academic pursuits. Otherwise, it would mean that the admission criteria, once declared, would remain an absolute rule and prospectuses would become un-amendable, precluding institutions from aiming at a higher scholastic and academic excellence. Institutions are built over a period of time and if a particular institution has worked hard enough to provide exclusive academic opportunities to the students studying there, with a reasonable expectation that the students would be able to meet those standards for the courses provided, it could never be that the initial eligibility criteria could never be modified down the line, to make the entry more stringent so as to take the best into its portals. Such a situation cannot be allowed.
Farhat Nasim joined Medical Dialogue an Editor for the Business Section in 2017. She Covers all the updates in the Pharmaceutical field, Policy, Insurance, Business Healthcare, Medical News, Health News, Pharma News, Healthcare and Investment. She is a graduate of St.Xavier’s College Ranchi. She can be contacted at email@example.com Contact no. 011-43720751 To know about our editorial team click here