Plea in Supreme Court challenges validity of NEET for MBBS abroad
New Delhi: Seeking relief from the mandate that all medical aspirants have to qualify National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) even to get MBBS admission abroad, a few foreign medical aspirants have filed a petition with the Supreme Court.
A set of foreign MBBS aspirants backed by the All India Foreign Medical Graduates Association (AIFMGA), sought the apex court to pass directives to declare and to hold that Act 39 of 2016, provision of section 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act is not applicable for taking admission to the foreign medical universities.
The petitioners urged the court to hold that the notification dated 1st March 2018 issued to carry out amendments to introduce regulation 2A to the Screening Test Regulation 2002, r/w amendments to introduce regulation 8 [iv] to the Eligibility Requirement for taking admission to an Undergraduate Medical Course in a Foreign Medical Institution Regulation 2002 is illegal, ultra vires, unconstitutional and tenable in the eyes of law.
The petitioner MBBS aspirants who are Indian citizens and all aspire to be doctors stated that they want to pursue their MBBS education in foreign universities, as to study medicine in India is an expensive affair. They indicated their preference to study MBBs abroad given the high-priced medical education in India, as compared to the admission process to medical universities abroad as well as the admission process where there is no caste-based bifurcation and discrimination on merits and meritorious students who qualify the entrance test conducted by each foreign university are given preference.
The aspirants further submitted that despite getting admission to the foreign medical universities, they could not join the course, as they did not qualify the NEET which is introduced as eligibility for taking admission to foreign universities.
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The grounds for their petition stated that any change in the law, concerning medical education, must be by way of an amendment to the governing act. They implied that the compulsion of NEET for MBBS admission to foreign medical universities is done without issuing a constitutional amendment.
"Eligibility to take admission in the foreign medical universities is covered under section 13[4A} and section 13[4B] of the IMC Act. Any change to the eligibility criteria would require an amendment to section 13[4A] and section 13 [4B]. This amendment would be by way of an amendment to the act through parliament. There is no amendment to the section 13[4B] of the IMC Act and the MCI has no powers to amend regulation which has [direct/indirect] effect of the amendment to the section 13 [4B]. Therefore, the notification is illegal, ultra virus, and against the provision, as established under the constitution."
The petition also objected to the amendment in the requirement for obtaining the MCI eligibility certificate stating that the term eligibility certificate is not defined anywhere in the IMC Act. The provision of term eligibility certificate is explained under the Eligibility Requirement for Taking Admission in an Undergraduate Medical Course in a Foreign Medical Institution Regulations 2002. As per the regulations, the eligibility certificate is a certificate issued by the Council to the candidate who fulfils criteria as mentioned under regulation. Now, there is an amendment to the regulation 8 and regulation 8 [iv] is added for adopting NEET [score] as the part of eligibility certificate for taking admission to the foreign medical universities with reference to the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education 1997.
The Regulation on Graduate Medical Education 1997 is to regulate medical education in India. This regulation has adopted Section 10D of the IMC Act in its preamble, which is for the Indian medical colleges and universities. The scope of section 10D cannot be extended to the foreign medical universities without specific amendment to section 10D or section 13 [4B] of IMC Act, the petition submitted.
The petition contended that the MCI and the Union Health Ministry has no powers to make rules for taking admission to foreign medical universities.
"The change in regulations, by way of the notifications, without amending the relevant provision of the law in the governing act is illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and untenable in the eyes of law."
Submitting that there is no need for NEET as an eligibility test to go for MBBS abroad, as Foreign Medical Graduate Examination Screening Test -FMGE is already conducted for medicos who want to practice in India; the petitioners submitted:
Upon completion of the course from foreign medical university, and before enrolling with the state medical council/national medical council, it is mandatory upon the student to successfully qualify the screening test; conducted by the respondent. Thus, there is already a mechanism in place to test the medical knowledge and proficiency of the student before they are allowed to practice medicine in India. Therefore, there is no requirement of NEET as the eligibility criteria for taking admission to foreign universities.
Based on the aforesaid submissions, the petitioners prayed the apex court to issue directives in their favour.
Last year, bringing relief to Indian MBBS aspirants who were looking to pursue MBBS abroad, the MCI along with the Union Health Ministry had decided to give one-time exemption from the requirement of NEET.