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Supreme Court dismisses a plea seeking directions to extend the internship completion for NEET-PG 2022

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The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea filed by Doctors seeking directions to extend the date for completion of internship from May 31, 2022 to a future date, for NEET-PG 2022, so as to accommodate interns whose internship got delayed due to compulsory Covid duties (particularly from the States of Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and Kerala. 

The bench has observed giving such relief as sought for in the petition will disturb the academic schedule. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant & Bela M Trivedi has observed that though there is undoubtedly an element of hardship but it would not be possible at this stage to disrupt the education of a large body of students. 

The present plea was filed through AOR Charu Mathur by doctors who are aspirants of NEET-PG 2022. NEET-PG is an eligibility-cum- ranking examination prescribed as the single entrance examination for admission to various MD/MS and PG Diploma Courses as per Section 61(2) of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 read with 10 (D) of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

The petition stated, “that in terms of the eligibility criteria as provided in the Information Bulletin, only those candidates who have or who are likely to complete their internship on or before 31.07.2022can apply for NEET-PG 2022. Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin is provided hereunder, for the ready reference of this Hon’ble Court:

“Candidates in possession of MBBS degree or Provisional MBBS Pass Certificate recognized as per the provisions of the NMC Act, 2019 and the repealed Indian Medical Council Act 1956 and possessing permanent or provisional registration certificate of MBBS qualification issued by the NMC/ the erstwhile Medical Council of India or State Medical Council and have completed one year of internship or are likely to complete the internship on or before 31st May 2022, may apply for NEET-PG 2022 through online application system at website https://nbe.edu.in

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The plea further stated, only the candidates who fall under the eligibility criteria prescribed under Clause 4 of the Information Bulletin for NEET-PG 2022, can appear for NEET-PG 2022. It is submitted that several final year MBBS candidates in the year 2021, were involved in compulsory covid duties to handle the ferocious second wave. It is submitted that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, in an official statement made on 03.05.2021, inter alia stated the following:

a. NEET-PG exam is to be postponed for at least 4 months;

b. Medical personnel completing 100 days of Covid duties will be given priority in forthcoming regular Government recruitments;

c. Medical interns to be deployed in Covid Management duties under the supervision of their faculty;

d. Final Year MBBS students can be utilized for tele- consultation and monitoring of mild Covid cases under supervision of Faculty;

e. B.Sc/GNMqualifiednursestobeutilizedinfull-timeCovid nursing duties under the supervision of Senior Doctors and Nurses.

f. Medical personnel completing 100 days of Covid duties will be given Prime Minister’s distinguished Covid National Service Samman.

On the basis of the aforesaid statement and in furtherance to various circulars issued by the colleges, many final year MBBS candidates joined as front line workers in covid duties. It is most humbly submitted that while the candidates joined for covid duties, neither the Respondent No. 1nor the colleges informed them that serving as covid warriors will delay their commencement of internship and could also affect the registration for NEET-PG 2022-23. That for several candidates internship which commenced from March- April 2021 got postponed to September-October 2021, said the Plea. 

Further it’s said that the candidates were shocked to note that they will not be able to register for NEET-PG 2022-23 with the current deadline of 31.07.2022 as the internship deadline.

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The plea had sought various directions; 

a. to direct the Respondent No. 1 to extend the date for completion of internship from 31.07.2022 to a future date, as to accommodate interns whose internship got delayed due to compulsory covid duties;

b. IN THE ALTENATIVE, prayer (a) above then atleast direct the Respondents to allow the candidates who are not completing their internship on or before 31.07.2022 (in terms of clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin) and are others eligible to appear in NEET-PG 2022 as other per conditions mentioned in Clause 4 of the NEET-PG 2022 Information Bulletin, to apply for the NEET-PG 2022 and that internship completion certificate be submitted once the same is obtained after completion of one year mandatory period from when it started in year 2021 and in the meantime an undertaking be given by the candidates for the submission of the internship certificate to Respondent No. 1 indicating the date of completion of internship.

c. to direct the Respondents to consider exclusion of the period when the candidate served in covid duty from the one-year internship period, subject to the candidate fulfilling all other requirements set forth in Clause 4 regarding eligibility for NEET-PG 2022.

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