Association of MD Physicians have urged the Delhi High Court to postpone the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) screening test scheduled for June 18 due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country. The association, which also has as members some foreign medical graduates who have completed their primary medical courses in institutions abroad, said there are a limited number of cities being notified as centres for the FMGE screening test and a large number of candidates will be forced to travel without having received even one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the plea was opposed by the counsel for National Board of Examination (NBE) and National Medical Commission (NMC) on the ground that it was only a qualifying exam which can be taken by petitioners even in December, if not in June and the test should not be postponed at the behest of a few candidates. After hearing submissions of both the sides, Justice Amit Bansal asked the counsel to place on record certain documents and listed the matter for further hearing on Friday.
The association, represented through advocates Adit S Pujari and Chaitanya Sundriyal, has sought to set aside the time schedule for conducting the June 2021 FMGE in the April 15 notice and the April 16 information bulletin titled Foreign Medical Graduate Exam Screening Test information bulletin June 2021 session’ published by the NBE. The plea said that in accordance with the Indian Medical Council Act and Screening Test Regulations 2002, persons possessing medical qualifications awarded by a foreign institution are required to qualify the FMGE Screening Test in order to receive recognition for their medical qualifications and to be registered to the State medical councils to practice medicine in India.
The petitioner is approaching this court at a time when the entire world is going through the COVID-19 pandemic, with India being one of the worst affected countries in the world. ”At such times, when the central government is undertaking strictest measures to control the pandemic and all the state governments imposing lockdowns and curfews, movement and transport restrictions, the members of the petitioner association and other eligible foreign medical graduates are being forced to appear for the FMGE Screening Test on June 18, while putting themselves and people around them at risk of contracting COVID-19, the plea said.
Advocates T Singhdev and Kirtiman Singh, representing NMC and NBE respectively, raised objections over maintainability of the petition and said it was not filed by duly authorised representative and that the plea was defective. We need more doctors as the third wave of the virus is coming. This is an exam for the entire nation and not only for these few petitioners. If they do not want to take the exam now, they can give it in December but they cannot stall the test for everyone else in the country, Singhdev contended.
Singh submitted that proper measures are being taken to conduct the exam and a lot of checks are in place and the COVID-19 protocol including social distancing will be followed. The plea said on one hand the authorities have postponed the National Eligibility Entrance Test (Post Graduate) – 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, on the other hand, they have decided to conduct the FMGE screening test at times when the country is overcoming the second wave and preparing for the third wave of the pandemic.
Challenging the April notice and the information bulletin, the petitioners contended that the decision of the authorities was arbitrary and unreasonable and sought postponement of the FMGE to a later date.