Monday, September 21, 2009

Foreign medical degree no passport for Indians to practise in India: SC

Foreign medical degree no passport for Indians to practise in India: SC

‘They Must Clear MCI’s Screening Test To Treat Patients’

New Delhi: You may have graduated from premier medical schools like Harvard or Johns Hopkins but you will not be able to practise in India till you have cleared a screening test conducted by the Medical Council of India, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The screening test will also be mandatory for those students who have got MBBS degrees from a country with which India has a reciprocity agreement. Under this rule, foreign nationals with medical degrees from their countries could practise in India without appearing in the screening test and Indians with MBBS degree from home could go there and treat patients.

But the new SC ruling has changed the ground rules. From now, if an Indian student gets a medical degree from a foreign country covered under the reciprocity clause and wants to practise in India, he can do so only after clearing the MCI’s screening test.

At present, certain medical qualifications of UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh are covered under the reciprocity clause.

The worst affected would be Indian students who had made a beeline for medical degrees from colleges in Nepal after the MCI had refused to recognise medical degrees from institutes in erstwhile USSR countries, which had liberal admission criteria.

Students went in droves to get admission in medical colleges in Nepal, with which India has a reciprocity clause, and had approached the SC after MCI said they were required to appear in the screening test.

Dismissing their plea against the screening test, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal said, “Appellants have to appear in the screening test conducted by the National Board of Examination in terms of the Screening Test Regulations made by the MCI.”

Accepting the argument of senior advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared on behalf of MCI, the Bench clarified that the screening test was mandatory for all Indian students who wanted to practise in India after obtaining MBBS degrees from foreign universities. “A person who is a citizen of India and obtains a medical qualification granted by any medical institution in any country outside India, recognised for enrolment as medical practitioner in that country, shall not be entitled to be enrolled on the medical register maintained by a state medical council or to have his name entered in the Indian medical register after March 15, 2002, unless he qualifies the screening test prescribed,” said Justice Panchal, writing the judgment for the Bench.

The screening test applicability from March 15, 2002, was envisaged keeping in mind the fact that a large number of private agencies started sponsoring students for medical studies in institutions outside India for commercial considerations. “It was noticed that such students also included those who did not fulfil the minimum eligibility requirements for admission to medical courses in India.

Serious aberrations were noticed in the standards of medical education in some foreign countries, which were not on par with standards of medical education available in India,” the SC said justifying its ruling.

It was therefore felt necessary by Parliament to make a provision to enable MCI to conduct a screening test to satisfy the regulatory body about the adequacy of knowledge and skills acquired by citizens of India, who obtained medical qualifications from universities or medical institutions outside India

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