Kerala High Court admits plea challenging NMC rule limiting number of attempts to pass exam and protecting students from coercive action

The Kerala High Court on Friday admitted a petition filed by a group of students pursuing MBBS courses in various colleges of the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS), challenging the amendment to the Medical Education Regulations Superior, 1997 by the National Medical Commission.

The amendment notified on 04.11.2019 had limited the maximum number of attempts to pass the first examination of the Professional University to four. The petitioners argued that under earlier guidelines from the Medical Commission of India (replaced by NMC as of 2019), the course could be completed within 10 years.

Judge Devan Ramachandran ordered that no coercive action be taken against medical students, while noting that this was a matter of importance that deserved to be admitted.

In the petition sent Lawyers MR Abhilash, Sreepriya A., and Vishal Ajayan V., the petitioners claimed that they gained admission into the various colleges through the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) in the 2019-20 academic year. Their classes had started on August 8, 2019. That was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the nation went into lockdown. Subsequently, in accordance with the notification from the state government, the students resumed their classes in virtual mode. The petitioners claimed to have encountered various difficulties during this period as some of them came from areas such as Wayanad where there were network connectivity issues, and some had health issues. It was stated that the students were also under extreme stress due to the extensive syllabus of the MBBS course and the online tutorials were also frequently interrupted.

It was at this time that the KUHS announced the 1st year university exam for students in the 2019-2020 academic year. It has been asserted by the applicants that, according to the guidelines, candidates must separately obtain minimum marks of 50% for the university theory examination in each subject, and not less than 40% of theoretical and practical marks awarded separately for the internal assessment in a particular subject in order to be eligible for the University final examination in that subject. Students who pass the exam in three subjects in the first year can be promoted to the second year. In accordance with this provision, on March 15, 2021, the tests for the subjects of Anatomy / Physiology & Biochemistry took place, and once these were completed, the students were authorized to join the 2nd year class for a period of four months. However, on 19.07.2021, the result of the exam was released and the petitioners were deemed not to have achieved the minimum mark of 50% as mandated by the university. In fact, most of them had lost their subjects by 3 or 4 points. .

It was found that SAY exams were conducted by KUHS on August 16, 2021, for students who failed to clear three subjects in 1st year exams, without giving enough time for students to revise failed subjects , as a result of which they could not erase it. The supplementary examinations which were subsequently organized did not lead to a favorable result for the students either. It is in this context that the KUHS published the contested notification on July 22, 2022, indicating that the amended regulations would be applicable to batches admitted to the MBBS courses of the academic year 2019-2020, which also modified the scheme of ‘exam.

Affected by the same thing, the petitioners filed the present motion.

It was further asserted by the petitioners that since the MCI was replaced by the National Medical Commission (NMC) on August 8, 2019, any subsequent amendments to the repeal of the MCI Act would be unconstitutional, and added that in any event , since the petitioners were admitted before the amendment, the same should not be the case with them. It was further claimed that the University should have given leniency to the petitioners noting that awarding a maximum of 5 points as a pardon mark in an individual paper instead of adding the same Total points would have allowed the petitioners to pass the exam.

Therefore, the plea requested that the plaintiffs’ right to attempt an upcoming examination to be conducted by the University be recognized, and the Court may issue appropriate directions to allow them to sit for such examination, and not allow this right to be taken by the contested amendment. The petitioners also prayed that the amendment be declared unconstitutional and contrary to the article and struck down.

The respondents in this case are represented by the KUHS Permanent Counsel, Advocate P. Sreekumar, Advocate Titus Mani Vettam, Deputy Solicitor General of India, S. Manu, and the Government litigator.

The case was scheduled for October 6, 2022, the date until which time the petitioners were ordered to maintain the status quo.

Case title: Amal Nasim M. & Ors. v. Kerala University of Health Science & Ors.

Click here to read/download the order

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