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MCI's response on screening test sought

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, FEB. 24. The Supreme Court today sought from the Medical Council of India (MCI) a response to the Centre's proposal to do away with the screening test for the registration of medical students who had graduated from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

A three-Judge bench, comprising the Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Justices S.B. Sinha and S. H. Kapadia, asked the MCI to file its affidavit by March-end and adjourned the proceedings till then.

It was hearing a batch of writ petitions by about 6,000 medical graduates with degrees from the erstwhile Soviet Union. They were denied registration by the MCI on the ground that they had not completed their courses because the medical colleges had become defunct due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The Health Ministry, in its affidavit, stated that the screening test could not be insisted upon in the absence of a notification by the Government specifying March 15, 2002 as the date contemplated in the amended Section 13 (3) of the Medical Council of India (Amendment) Act 2001.

It said the medicos from 29 institutes in the Commonwealth of Independent States, who had obtained medical qualifications of a six-year course before March 15, needed to successfully complete one-year internship in India for the grant of certificate of registration to practise in India.

The Government would issue a notification on March 15 under Section 13 (3) of the MCI (Amendment) Act including them under Part II of the Third Schedule and making it clear that their medical qualification would be recognised for the purpose of the Act.

On behalf of the MCI, it was submitted that many of the colleges were not even recognised by the MCI and hence these students had to pass the screening test to be conducted by the National Board of Examinations, constituted as per the court's earlier direction. About 300 students had passed the screening test since 2002.

On behalf of the students, it was alleged that the MCI was obstructing the registration of the medicos when the Government had decided to grant them registration. But the Bench observed that the registration had to be given as per the MCI rules and asked it to respond to the Centre's affidavit.

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