The Supreme Court ruled that the Licentiate and CRMI Regulations do not encroach into the sovereignty of the countries where those institutions are located.
The appellant completed his Higher Secondary education in the year 2021 under the C.B.S.E. Scheme. According to him, he appeared for NEET 2021 and obtained a 55.44 percentile score. His All India NEET Rank was 68772. Therefore, he could not get admission to a medical college of his choice in India.
Contending that he wanted to join an UnderGraduate Medical Course in Anna Medical College, Mauritius and that due to the restrictions on international travel during the pandemic, he was unable to join the said Course during the academic year 2021-22 and in the meantime the National Medical Commission of India brought the Licentiate and CRMI Regulations, imposing heavy and arbitrary burden upon students who want to pursue medical education abroad, the appellant filed two writ petitions.
Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the appellant challenged some provisions of the Licentiate Regulations, 2021.
He contended that Regulations 4(a)(i), 4(a)(ii), 4(b) and 4(c) are violative of the Right to Health, inherent in Article 21, as they tend to impair the right of the citizens to obtain quality medical treatment.
He submitted that the impugned Regulations are issued in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15(4) read with Section 57 of the Act, but these provisions do not confer any such power to frame rules and regulations in respect of such matters.
He argued that unreasonable restrictions imposed by these Regulations will cause brain drain from this country. The impugned Regulations tend to increase the average duration of the entire curriculum up to the stage of registration as a medical practitioner, to 89 years for a foreign medical graduate, though it is just 5½ years for an Indian medical graduate. Since the system of Modern Medicine or Allopathy is the same throughout the world and since it cannot differ from country to country, the classification of students into two categories namely those who study in India and those who study abroad, is violative of Article 14.
The division bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian said that the requirement under Regulation 4(b) has been necessitated to ensure that the students who were imparted medical education in a foreign country demonstrate their skills first on the population of the country where they studied. The necessity for a Master Chef to taste the food prepared by him, before it is served to the guests, cannot be said to be arbitrary. Therefore, the challenge to the Licentiate Regulations, are wholly without basis.
The court stated that the contention that Section 36(4) recognises M.B.B.S. courses of a duration of less than 54 months and that therefore the Licentiate Regulations being a subordinate legislation is ultra vires, is wholly unsustainable. All that subsection (4) of Section 36 saves, are the qualifications already recognised before the date of commencement of the Act and included in the Second Schedule and Part II of the Third Schedule to the 1956 Act. The fact that past sins are sought to be washed away, is no ground to hold that there cannot be a course correction.
The court said that it is true that the country needs more doctors, but it needs really qualified doctors and not persons trained by institutions abroad, to test their skills only in their motherland.
The court found that the dismissal of the writ petitions filed by the appellant before the Madras High Court was fully justified. It could have dismissed the SLPs in limine, but it thought fit to take pains to bring on record the historical facts so that the challenge to these Regulations are nipped in the bud and they do not surface in a different form or avatar.
In view of the above, the court dismissed the appeals.
Case title: Aravinth R.A. v/s The Secretary to the Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & Ors.
Citation: Civil appeal no(s).35853586 of 2022