SC ruling on unrecognized medical courses

A bench of justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik dismissed the Medical Council of India's (MCI) contention that allowing such students to practice would open the pandora's box for unscruplous medical colleges to operate in India without recognition.
The apex court said if a student has done his entire course from an unrecognized medical college in India, then he orshe would not be entitled to practice.

However, if part of the course is done in India and the remaining completed in a recognized foreign college, then MCI cannot deny them recognition.

"The course of study could be in that country or if the norms of the Medical Council of that country so permitted, the course of study could be partly in that country and partly in another country, including India.

"Once that country recognizes a medical qualification granted by the institution in that country for the purpose of enrolment as a medical practitioner in that country and such medical degree holder passes the screening test in India, the Medical Council of India cannot refuse to recognize such a degree on the ground that the student did a part of his study in an institution in India as a part of his medical study programme for the foreign institution," Justice Raveendran writing the judgement said.

The apex court dismissed MCI's appeal challenging the directions of Andhra Pradesh High Court to accord recognition to students who did part of their course in India (for 18 months) from an unrecognized college and completed the remaining (18 months) from International Medical and Technological University in Tanzania.

The Tanzanian university was established by Vignan Education Foundation, an organization based in India.

Interpreting Section 10A of the MCI Act, the apex court said requirements for recognition of a medical qualification granted by an institution outside India are different from those in India.The apex court agreed with MCI's contention that if a student in India has studied from a medical college in India not having permission of the central government under Section 10A of the Act, the degree granted thereof will not entitle the student to practice.

"But medical qualifications granted by medical institutions outside India are dealt within a special provision, that is Section 13(4A) of the Act.

"Necessarily, for examining the validity of the medical qualification granted by a medical institution in any country outside India, the norms and tests of the country, where the medical institution is situated, will have to be fulfilled for recognition of the degree in that country and the norms that are prescribed by the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, with regard to Indian medical institutions will have no relevance," the bench said.

The apex court said so long as a foreign medical institution has granted a degree which is recognized for enrolment as medical practitioner in that country, all that is required for enrolment in the medical register in India is qualifying in the screening test in India.
"In the case of persons who obtained a medical qualification in a medical institution outside India, the question as to where the course of study was undergone is not relevant," the apex court added.

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