HC relief to MBBS Medico who pursued her under graduation from medical college in PoK
Srinagar: In a major respite to MBBS doctor who completed the UG course from a medical college situated Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and was denied a place in the Indian Medical Register, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to consider recognising her degree.
While passing the orders, the HC bench observed without the permission granted by MEA and the Visa by Pakistan, the medico would not have pursued the course of MBBS the medical college in the first place.
The case relates to an MBBS doctor who is a permanent resident of State of Jammu and Kashmir (now Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir) and, therefore, a citizen of India. She qualified her 10+2 examination from J&K State Board of School Education, Srinagar. She, eligible to undergo MBBS degree, applied to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College, Mirpur; situated in POK.
She got admission and pursued her MBBS course in the Medical College which is recognized by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PM&DC), an equivalent of Medical Council of India (MCI). The medical college, recognized institute in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; is also stated to be listed under the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education Research (FAIMER).
In anticipation of her completing MBBS degree, she applied to the ministry for issuance of eligibility certificate under Section 13(4B) of the India Medical Council Act, 1956. While the request was pending consideration, she qualified MBBS course and was awarded the requisite degree by the Medical College. The Ministry, with a view to accord consideration to her request for issuance of requisite eligibility certificate, approached Consular, High Commission of India at Islamabad, for verification of her MBBS qualification and also to find out as to whether the said qualification awarded by Medical College, Mirpur, was recognized for enrolment as medical practitioner in Pakistan.
Accordingly, she applied for Foreign Medical Graduate Examination-Screening Test (FMGE) conducted by the National Board of Examination (NBE). This exam is mandatory to be qualified for all Indian citizens possessing a primary medical qualification awarded by any medical institution outside India, who are desirous of getting provisional or permanent registration with Medical Council of India or State Medical Council.
The eligibility criteria for which states:
He/she is a citizen of India and possesses any primary medical qualification, either whose name and the institution awarding it is included in the World Directory of Medical Schools, published by the World Health Organization or which is confirmed by the Indian Embassy concerned to be a recognized qualification for enrolment as medical practitioner in the country in which institution awarding the said qualification is situated.
He/she had obtained ‘Eligibility Certificate’ from the Medical Council of India as per the Eligibility Requirement for taking admission in an undergraduate medical course in a Foreign Medical Institution Regulations, 2002. This requirement shall not be necessary for respect of Indian citizens who have acquired the medical qualification from foreign medical institutions or have obtained admission in a foreign medical institution before 15th March 2002.
She was meeting the first eligibility requirement as the Medical College, Mirpur, was included in the World Directory of Medical Schools published by World Health Organization and also it had been confirmed by Indian High Commission at Islamabad that the qualification of MBBS obtained by the petitioner was a recognized qualification for enrolment as Medical Practitioner in Pakistan. She, however, was not fulfilling the second eligibility requirement, i.e. she was not given an eligibility certificate from the MCI.
Consequently, the NBE refused her application. However, because of the interim direction passed by the HC Court, she was provisionally allowed to sit in the FMGE 2019 wherein she obtained 156 marks out of 300 successfully qualifying the exam.
Despite this, her registration was denied on the Medical Register maintained by the State Medical Council or in the Indian Medical Register.
After going through the whole case, the court deemed the petition as to be posing a unique problem calling for a unique resolution.
It observed that ‘POK’ is an integral part of India, though the same is under the occupation and administrative control of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Medical Council of India does not exercise de-facto control and powers over the territory known as POK, though it may claim to have territorial jurisdiction extending to that area de-jure.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has de facto control over the area and it is because of this, the Medical College in question has been recognized by and is registered with Pakistan Medical & Dental Council. The Act of 1956 and the rules and regulations framed thereunder do not lay down any specific provision to deal with such a peculiar situation. Admittedly, Medical College in Mirpur cannot be said to be a Medical Institution outside India nor the same is included in the Second Schedule.
The bench took note of sub-section (4B) of Section 13 of the India Medical Council Act, 1956,
Sub-section (4B) provides that no person shall be eligible to get admission to obtain a medical qualification granted by any medical institution in a foreign country without obtaining an eligibility certificate issued to him/her by Medical Council of India and in case, such person obtains such qualification without obtaining such eligibility certificate, he/she would not be eligible to appear in the screening test referred to in sub-section (4A).
The bench observed that POK, where the Medical College in question is situated, cannot be regarded as a foreign country and, therefore, the applicability of sub-section (4A) and (4B) of Section 13 of the Act of 1956 is completely ruled out. If that be the position as it is, the petitioner was not obliged to obtain an eligibility certificate in terms of sub-section (4B) nor was she required to qualify the screening test conducted by Medical Council of India in terms of sub-section (4A).
The petitioner, admittedly, has obtained a medical qualification from a medical college which has not been established in accordance with the provisions of Section 10A; though the said college is located in the territory of India. If that be the position, whether or not the petitioner qualifies a screening test, the qualification obtained by her cannot be said to be a recognized medical qualification for the purposes of provisions of the Act of 1956.
the qualification possessed by the petitioner from a medical institution situated on the territories of India and not established under the provisions of the Act of 1956, cannot be regarded as a recognized qualification for the purposes of the Act of 1956. Since the petitioner has not obtained her MBBS qualification from any medical institution in a foreign country, she is not entitled to sit in Foreign Medical Graduate Examination/Screening Test which is conducted twice by National Board of Examination for the candidates who have obtained their primary medical qualification from the institutions outside India meeting certain pre- requisite eligibility requirements.
The bench further observed:
The medical institution in question has the requisite recognition from the Medical and Dental Council of Pakistan and the qualification awarded by it is a recognized qualification to practice as a medical practitioner in Pakistan. Had the petitioner obtained this qualification from any medical institution in Pakistan having recognition from Medical and Dental Council of Pakistan, she would have been entitled both to the eligibility certificate to be issued to her under sub-section (4B) as also to sit in the Screening Test to be conducted by the National Board of Examinations in terms of sub-section (4A) of Section 13 of the Act of 1956. The petitioner has suffered and is suffering because of the fact that she has obtained MBBS degree from a medical institution which though is in India but is under the effective administrative control of Pakistan.
Having regard to the fact that the medico is a citizen of India and had genuinely pursued her MBBS qualification from a medical institution which is a recognized institution for grant of primary medical degree in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Justice Sanjeev Kumar stated that the case of the MBBS medico deserves to be considered by the MEA as a special case, more so when she has qualified Foreign Medical Graduate Examination/Screening Test conducted by the National Board of Examinations.
I deem it appropriate to call upon Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to consider the case of the petitioner for recognition of her qualification of MBBS and also for registering her as a Medical Practitioner on the rolls of Indian Medical Register or the State Medical Registry, as the case may be, purely on equitable considerations.
Meanwhile, the court further ordered the concerned authorities to issue requisite advisory in the matter informing the citizens of India about the status of educational institutions including medical institutions operating in the territories of India under the occupation and administrative control of Islamic Republic of Pakistan so that the citizens, particularly the students, are properly informed of the consequences of obtaining qualifications from such institutions.