The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that they are working on the suggestions given by the court to assist medical students who have returned to India from Ukraine in view of the war with Russia.
The apex court had on September 16 suggested that the Centre assist these medical students by creating a web portal giving details of the foreign universities, where they could complete their courses as per the government’s academic mobility programme.
The counsel appearing for the Centre told the top court on Friday that they have written to the secretaries of the ministries of external affairs as well as health on the issue.
“In terms of the last order, we have written to the secretaries of MEA (ministry of external affairs) as well as Health. Our instruction is that they are on it,” the counsel told a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
The counsel further said that in the last hearing, the apex court had indicated that a website can be made where information can be put so that there is clarity.
“We are on it,” the lawyer said, adding, “It is taken up with utmost priority.” The top court posted the matter for hearing on October 11.
When one of the advocates said that final-year medical students can be permitted to take online education, the bench observed, “We are not saying anything. We will pass a comprehensive order”.
At the outset, one of the advocates, appearing for some of the students, said several states have written to the Centre on the issue.
Arguing that around 13,000 medical students are affected, the lawyer said the Centre and the National Medical Commission should talk to these states.
On September 16, the apex court said there should be a transparent system and the web portal should specify complete details of the fees and the number of seats available in alternative foreign universities from where these students could complete their courses.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had sought time to get instruction from the government on the suggestions of the bench.
The top court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by students, who are undergraduate medical students of first to fourth-year batches in their respective foreign medical colleges/universities.
These students are primarily seeking transfer to medical colleges in India in their respective semesters.
The Centre, in its affidavit filed last week in the matter, had said they (students) cannot be accommodated in medical colleges here for lack of provisions under the law and till now, no permission has been given by the National Medical Commission (NMC) to transfer or accommodate any foreign medical students in any Indian medical institute/University.
It, however, had said that to aid and assist such returnee students who could not complete their MBBS courses in Ukraine, NMC in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs has issued a public notice dated September 6, 2022 (academic mobility programme), indicating that NMC would accept completion of their remaining courses in other countries (with the approval of parent university/Institution in Ukraine).
The government had said that after such completion of their remaining courses, the certificate, of course, completion/degree is expected to be issued by the parent institutions in Ukraine.
It had added that in the public notice dated September 6, the phrase “global mobility” cannot be interpreted to mean accommodation of these students in Indian colleges/Universities, as the extant regulations in India do not permit migration of students from foreign universities to India.
The government had further said, “It is humbly submitted that in so far as such students are concerned, there are no such provisions either under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 or the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 as well as the Regulations to accommodate or transfer medical students from any foreign medical institutes/colleges to Indian medical colleges”.
The students have relied upon the report of the Lok Sabha committee on external affairs dated August 3, by which it had recommended to the ministry of health and family welfare to accommodate these students in Indian colleges/universities as a one-time measure.