The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that medical students who have had to return from Ukraine and China without finishing their courses will be given one chance to clear the MBBS final examinations without enrolling in any Indian medical colleges, reported Bar and Bench.

A division bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath was hearing a batch of pleas of medical students who could not complete their Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees due to Covid-19 travel restrictions in China and the Ukraine war.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, 20,000 Indian students studying in the country had to return. Of them, 18,000 were medical students.

The students had filed a petition seeking that they be allowed to complete their education in India since they could not return to the war-torn country. On Wednesday, the Centre apprised the top court of its decision after a committee chaired by the Directorate General of Health Services, which comprises of the National Medical Council and concerned ministries, discussed the matter.

The committee decided that it will grant one chance to the students to clear the MBBS final exams. The students will not be required to enroll in any Indian colleges, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati told the court.

The students will appear for their theory exams conducted centrally on the syllabus prescribed for the MBBS course by the National Medical Commission, while the practical exams will be held in government medical colleges.

The committee also said that after clearing the exam, the students will have to complete a compulsory two-year internship programme. The students will be paid for their internship in the second year.

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the petitioners, argued that difference in the syllabi prescribed by the National Medical Commission and that followed in foreign medical institutions could be a hurdle for the students, reported Live Law. The petitioners also expressed concerns that just one attempt to clear the examination might not be enough.

“This is not like the All-India Bar Examination that if you fail, you will still have your LLB [Bachelor of Laws] degree,” Sankaranarayanan argued. “If these students do not clear the examination, they will be left with nothing.”

However, the Supreme Court accepted the recommendations made by the committee and disposed of the case.