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Loitongbam Bimolchandra Singh v/s Rajiv Kumar, the Assistant Secretary, Medical Council of India, New Delhi & Another


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    WP(C) No. 210 of 2020

    Decided On, 10 September 2021

    At, High Court of Manipur

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K.H. NOBIN SINGH

    For the Petitioner: N. Jotendro, Sr. Advocate. For the Respondents: B.R. Sharma, Advocate.



Judgment Text

1. Heard Shri N. Jotendro, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioner and Shri B.R. Sharma, learned Advocate appearing for the respondents.2. The validity and correctness of the letter dated 30-01-2020 issued by the Assistant Secretary, Medical Council of India, New Delhi is under challenge in this writ petition.3.1. According to the petitioner, his son, Shri L. Binin Singh passed his Matriculation Examination in the year 2012 at the age of 14 years and 10 months and thereafter, he completed his 12th Standard on 28-05-2014 at the age of 16 years and 10 months and hardly about two months were in short of completing the age of 17 years when he completed the 12th Standard. As his son desired to prosecute his further studies in medical course, he applied for it and got admission as per the letter dated 24-04-2014 issued by the Orel State University Medical Institute, Ministry of Education of Russian Federation.3.2. After his son having obtained admission, the petitioner applied for grant of eligibility certificate under Section 13(4B) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act, 1956”) vide his application dated 24-09-2019 and pursuant thereto and on receipt thereof, the Assistant Secretary, Medical Council of India issued a show cause letter dated 11-10-2019 to his son that his age was below 17 years at the time of his admission to the MBBS course in the year 2014 and accordingly, he was directed to submit a show cause statement within 15 days there from failing which it would be presumed that the petitioner had nothing to say in the matter. A reply dated 19-10-2019 was submitted by the petitioner explaining as to how his son passed the 10th and 12th Standards and got admission in medical course vide letter dated 24-04-2014. Despite the said reply being received by the Medical Council of India, it was not disposed of in time because of which the petitioner was compelled to approach this Court by way of a writ petition being WP(C) No.991 of 2019 which was disposed of on 15-12-2019 directing that the representation/ application submitted by the petitioner should be disposed of within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the order by issuing a speaking order. A copy of the said order passed by this Court was sent to the Assistant Secretary, Board of Governors, in supersession of the Medical Council of India, on 27-12-2019. Due to non-consideration of the same, a contempt petition being Contempt Case No. 24 of 2020 was filed and while it was pending, a letter dated 30-01-2020, impugned herein, was addressed to the son of the petitioner thereby rejecting the claim of the petitioner.3.3. Being aggrieved by the said letter dated 30-01-2020, the instant writ petition has been filed by the petitioner on the inter-alia grounds that as his son was to complete his MBBS course in the month of June, 2020, the Medical Council of India was required to consider sympathetically and relax the rules for granting eligibility certificate, otherwise the career of his son would get spoiled and that if the letter dated 30-01-2020 issued by the Assistant Secretary, Medical Council of India is not quashed and set aside, the entire career of his son would get spoiled. In addition thereto, the petitioner in his rejoinder has taken one more ground that the petitioner’s son may be considered for grant of eligibility certificate in his favour in terms of the decision rendered by the Madras High Court in a similar case.4. The stand of the respondents as indicated in the affidavit filed on behalf of the Board of Governors in supersession of the Medical Council of India (hereafter referred to as “the MCI”) is that the MCI is a statutory authority created by an Act of the Parliament namely the Act, 1956 as amended from time to time, giving the responsibility of maintaining the standard of medical education. It has also been stated in the affidavit that the duties and responsibilities of the MCI have been recognized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in many of its decisions. The rules and regulations framed by the MCI, with the prior approval of the Central Government, laying the standards of teaching, infrastructure and other requirements including that of admission to medical courses, have been held to be mandatory by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in MCI Vs. State of Karnataka, (1998) 6 SCC 131. The law laid down therein has been reiterated in many subsequent decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. In terms of Section 13 of the Act, 1956, any candidate, prior to taking admission in foreign medical institution, has to approach the MCI for procuring an eligibility certificate and upon return after completing the course, has to qualify the screening test. The regulations made in this regard, provide that the MCI shall consider the application for issuing eligibility certificate, only if the candidate fulfills the required criteria including the age criteria for admission to MBBS course in India. The MCI has framed the Graduate Medical Education Regulation, 1997, the regulation 4 of which provides that no candidate can be allowed to be admitted to the 1st year of MBBS course until he/ she has completed the age of 17 years on or before 31st December of the year of admission to the MBBS course. The issue of questioning the validity and legality of the Graduate Medical education Regulations, 1997 is no longer res integra. Even if the MCI had erroneously granted eligibility certificate to certain candidates, the same would not come to the benefit of the petitioner in view of the settled law that Article 14 of the Constitution of India does not envisage a negative equality. The petitioner’s son applied for obtaining the eligibility certificate, after he got admission in medical course. The petitioner’s son did not meet the eligibility criteria for grant of eligibility certificate in terms of the regulations. Therefore, the present petition is not only contrary to the statutory regulations framed by the MCI which are mandatory but also to the judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and various High Courts and hence, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed by this Court.5. There can be no any dispute as regards the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court relating to the interpretation of the provisions of the Act, 1956 and the regulations made thereunder. It may, probably, be for this reason that the validity and legality of any provision thereof has not been questioned herein. It is absolutely correct, when it has been stated in the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents that the issue questioning the validity and legality of the Graduate Medical education Regulations, 1997 is no longer res integra. Therefore, the argument advanced by Shri N. jotendro, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioner, during the course of hearing, was that the case of the petitioner’s son be directed to be considered by the MCI in terms of the decisions rendered by some of the High Court-(a) the judgment dated 05-04-2006 delivered by the Delhi High Court in Jishslakshi Embrandiri Vs. MCI & ors; (b) order dated 13-03-2020 passed by the Madras High Court in D. Sasirekha Vs. Assistant Secretary, MCI and the judgment dated 10-08-2017 delivered by the Rajasthan High Court in Thakra Ram Vs. MCI & anr. On the other hand and combating the submission of the counsel appearing for the petitioner, it has been submitted by Shri B.R Sharma, learned counsel appearing for the respondents that the facts of the said cases are not identical with that of the present case and therefore, the decisions rendered therein by the High Courts, will have no application to the facts of the present case.6. In view of the rival contentions, this Court deems it appropriate to examine the decisions rendered by the said High Courts. The first decision is the one rendered by Delhi High Court in Jishalkshi Embrandiri case wherein the petitioner was aggrieved by the MCI’s insistence upon adherence with their rule mandating that a student should have attained the age of seventeen years prior to embarking on medical studies. The Delhi High Court, after referring to other cases and in particular, the case of Shri Sunil Kumar, the petitioner in WP(C) No.29 of 2006, held that the petitioner was in the same position as that Shri Sunil Kumar and was entitled to the same treatment and accordingly, the MCI was directed to grant registration to the petitioner therein on his clearing the screening test. Secondly, in D. Sashirekha case, the validity and correctness of the letter dated 06-04-2016 of the MCI by which the request of the petitioner therein to issue eligibility certificate under Section 13(4B) of the Act, 1956 was rejected, was challenged by her. Relying upon a decision rendered by the Andhra High Court and keeping in mind the peculiar facts and circumstances of that case, the Madras High Court allowed the writ petition by quashing the letter dated 06-04-2016 of the MCI. Thirdly, similar is the case with Shri Thakra Ram case wherein the petitioner applied for grant of eligibility certificate but it was rejected on the ground that the petitioner had not attained the age of 17 years on the date of admission in the Lugansk State Medical University, Ukraine. Considering the facts and circumstances of that case, the Rajasthan High Court allowed the writ petition with the direction that the MCI should issue passing certificate of FMG Screening test without insisting upon the eligibility certificate.7. It may be noted that this Court is not bound by the decisions rendered by the other High Courts in the country except their persuasive value. But the manner in which the relief had been molded by the High Courts in exercise of their power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, can be adopted by this Court for the reason that to maintain a uniformity in molding the relief in respect of the similarly situated persons, is indispensable. The facts and circumstances of the aforesaid three cases are not exactly the same with that of the present case but the issues involved therein are almost the same as that of the present case. The issue was as to whether, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the cases, the MCI was justified in rejecting the request of the petitioners therein on the ground that they did not attain the age of 17 years on the date of admission to MBBS courses. While deciding the said issues, the High Courts had allowed the writ petitions confining to the peculiar facts their cases. The Madras High Court specifically relied upon the decision rendered by the Andhra High Court, whose decision was taken on appeal by the MCI before the Hon’ble Supreme Court by way of SLP(C) No.27709 of 2018 which was dismissed. Similar is the case with the present petition and there is no reason as to why the issue involved herein shall not be considered by this Court keeping in mind the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case.8. One of the aspects which had been considered by the aforesaid High Courts, was the number of days/ months which were in short in completing the age of 17 years by the petitioners therein. It may further be noted that the regulation 4 which is very clear & unambiguous, provides that no candidate can be allowed to be admitted to the 1st year of MBBS course until he/ she has completed the age of 17 years on or before 31st December of the year of admission to the MBBS course. Therefore, if the age of the candidate is less than 17 years, it will make no difference whether the shortage thereof is in respect of either the days or the months because the legal effect will remain the same for the reason that all the candidates who are less than 17 years at the time of their admissions, are similarly situated and are in the same footing requiring equal treatments amongst them. In the present case, the petitioner’s son got admission for undergoing medical course as per the letter dated 24-04-2014 issued by the Orel State University Medical Institute, Ministry of Education of Russian Federation. After his son having joined the medical course, the petitioner applied for grant of eligibility certificate under Section 13(4B) of the Act, 1956 vide his application dated 24-09-2019 which was rejected by the MCI on the ground that his son’s age was below 17 years at the time of his admission to the MBBS course in the year 2014 and therefore, he is not entitled to grant of eligibility certificate. The petitioner’s son might have, by now, completed the medical course and in case the eligibility certificate is not granted to the petitioner’s son, his dream of being a doctor will stand shattered and his educational standard will remain at 12th standard only. In other words, his hard work will be rendered futile and meaningless, if he is not granted the eligibility certificate. If he wishes to prosecute his further studies now, he will have to start from 12th standard afresh and in such an event, he may suffer heart-break or it may cause heart-burn. This Court is not oblivious of the fact that the regulations fra

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med by the MCI are mandatory, as has been held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. But the denial of a similar relief to the present petitioner which has been granted to the petitioners therein by the other High Courts, can be said to be unfair and unreasonable. Therefore, this Court has no option but to give indulgence to the present petitioner by granting a similar relief. On top of that, the case of the petitioner’s son is the only case which has been brought to the notice of this Court. In other words, there appears to be no any other person in the State, other than the petitioner’s son, having such a problem. In any case, it is the MCI which might be having information about it. In fact, it is not the fault of the MCI but the lack of enforcement of such a provision of law by the various Boards which conducted 10th and 12th examinations, has led to such a problem in the country.9. In view of the above and for the reasons sated hereinabove, the instant writ petition is allowed and consequently, the impugned letter dated 30-01-2020 issued by the Assistant Secretary, MCI is quashed and set aside with the direction that the MCI/ Board of Governors in supersession of the Medical Council of India shall grant an eligibility certificate to the petitioner’s son within three weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment and order. It is made clear that this judgment and order shall not set a precedent. There shall be no order as to costs.
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