SC Grants Relief to Medical Post-Doctoral Candidate Unable to Submit Passing Certificate Before the Deadline as Covid-19 Delayed His Exams
Supreme Court in All India Institute Of Medical Sciences Vs. U. Asha & Ors. — Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 12338/2021, directed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi, to allow a Final Year MD student and doctor to participate in the counselling for Post-Doctoral Course and admit him in the vacant seat available. The student could not acquire the certificate of passing the MD exams as the exams were delayed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The court noted that this direction is in light of peculiar facts of the case and the same shall not be treated as the precedent.
The two-judge bench of Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice R. Subhash Reddy held:
It is made clear that this order has been passed in the special facts and circumstances of this case, since examinations could not be held as scheduled by reason of the overwhelming rise in COVID-19 cases, and considering that there is a vacant seat in the Post Doctoral Course in Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in AIIMS, Patna, AIIMS, Bhopal and AIIMS, Raipur respectively. It is only fair that the Respondent No. 1 should get preference over candidates who have ranked below him in the merit list.
The respondent student is a doctor and final year student of M.D. (Pulmonary) Course at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry. He applied for admission to the post-doctoral course of July 2021 and successfully completed the online selection process as well as practical/lab-based assessment. The respondent student was duly selected for the seat in the DM course in Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh. The prospectus of AIIMS states that candidates must possess all requisite qualifications before 31st July 2021. If the candidate fails to acquire the required qualification, they will be debarred from taking admission to the institute. The respondent was denied admission since the qualifying MD exams were delayed and results of the same were not declared owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aggrieved by the above actions the respondent student filed WP No. 14717/2021 in the Madras High Court. The court gave interim order dated 28th July 2021 that counselling may be proceeded with but one seat in the DM Course for Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine shall not be allotted to any candidate for a period of 3 weeks. AIIMS then filed an appeal against the said order. In the meantime, the results of the student were published.
The court on the same day had decided a similar matter pertaining to Post-Doctoral Doctor of Medicine (DM) course in Cardiology in W.P. (Civil) No. 750 of 2021 where it was held:
“We direct the respondents to permit the petitioner to participate in the counselling scheduled on 31.08.2021 and to allow the petitioner admission in the available vacancy in the DM Cardiology Course at AIIMS Rishikesh, if the petitioner is interested.”
In reference to the above observation, the appellant AIIMS – the body conducting counselling submitted that one seat each was vacant for the DM course of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in AIIMS at Bhopal, Patna, and Raipur.
Accordingly, the court directed AIIMS to allow the respondent candidate to participate in the counselling process if needed and to allot any of the available vacant seats accordingly.
The court disposed of the special leave petition noting:
“This order passed by way of a one time measure for admission to the Post Doctoral Course in Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine for the July 2021-22 session, in the special facts and circumstances of this case, is not to be treated as a precedent.”
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL