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Delhi HC Notice To Centre And Exam Board On Plea Against Training Extension For Post-Doctoral Medical Students

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The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Central Government and the National Board of Examination (NBE) on a petition filed by a medical student against the training period being extended for the Post-Doctoral Medical Students.

Justice C. Hari Shankar was hearing a petition filed by Dr. J. Pathak and others challenging Public Notice dated 4th April 2020, issued by NBE that stated, “…training of students undergoing the Diplomate of National Board (DNB)/Fellowship of National Board (FNB) program, conducted by the NBE, has been adversely impacted by the ongoing COVID2019 pandemic, it has been decided to extend the period of training of all DNB/FNB students, whose tenures were ending between 1st April and 30th June 2020, in all specialties, by six weeks and until further notice.”

Advocate Sahil Tagotra appearing for the petitioner submitted that as contained in the letter dated 9th April 2018, militates against the decision, of the NBE, to extend the training of DNB students, and indicates that, even in the perception of the NBE, the period of training of DNB students could not have been extended.

However, the Court observed that “There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between the functioning of hospitals and imparting of training to DNB/FNB students therein. Functioning of hospitals, during the period of the COVID lockdown, or during the currency, in the country, of the COVID pandemic itself cannot be equated with the manner in which hospitals function at other times.”

“The mere facts that hospitals and medical establishments continue to functioning during the COVID pandemic, therefore, does not, ipso facto, lead to the conclusion that training of DNB residents is not adversely impacted, or belie the averment, to that effect, as contained in the impugned public notice, dated 4th April 2020.”, the court stated.

The court also observed that the nature of training, which is required to be imparted to first and second year DNB students, cannot be automatically equated with the nature of training to be imparted to final year students. Besides, it is not for this Court to return a finding that the plea of difficulty, being faced in imparting training to final year DNB/FNB students, is belied by the fact that there is no extension of training in the case of first and second-year students

Senior Advocate Maninder Acharya, Additional Solicitor General, and Advocate Kirtiman Singh, Standing Counsel informed the Court that the availability of the petitioners, in the hospitals in which they are undergoing training, is essential at this point of time, as, if the petitioners’ training is allowed be completed and they leave the hospitals, there will be an exodus of 3156 doctors, which could adversely impact the treatment of patients, COVID sufferers and otherwise, during the currency of the present pandemic.

Whereas, Mr. Tagotra contended that this is not a ground on which the impugned Public Notice has been issued and that therefore, this cannot be a ground to defend the impugned Public Notice either.

The Court has directed the center and NBE to file responses and issued notice returnable on 14th May 2020.

-India Legal Bureau

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