"No Obligation To Nation Building?" Supreme Court On Medical Students' Plea

Five MBBS students in Karnataka said in a plea that candidates on private seats in private or deemed universities are exempt from compulsory rural service requirements.

'No Obligation To Nation Building?' Supreme Court On Medical Students' Plea

The court has sought a reply from the Katrnataka government and others.

New Delhi:

Can a medical student about to graduate seek exemption from rendering one-year public rural service just because they have studied at a private medical college?

The poser came from a Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices PS Narasimha and Sanjay Karol which was hearing a petition filed by five MBBS students who are graduating from private seats of a deemed university in Karnataka.

The petitioners have sought a direction to the Commissionerate, Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka, to issue them the required no objection certificate (NOC) without subjecting them to swear an affidavit of compulsory rural service.

The Supreme Court, which issued notice to the Karnataka government and others seeking their responses on the plea, observed, "Just because you go and study at a private institution, you have an exemption from working in rural areas?".

The plea, filed through advocate Meenakshi Kalra, has also sought a direction to the Karnataka Medical Council to accept the permanent registration of the petitioners.

"You walk up and down India and work in different rural areas. That is such a beautiful thing to do," the bench observed, while asking whether students who study in private institutions have no obligation to contribute to nation building.

The petitioners have said the Karnataka government had enacted the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012 and subsequently enacted the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Course Rules, 2015.

The plea said the combined effect of the Act and the Rules, "mandates that every MBBS graduate, every post-graduate (Diploma or Degree) and every super specialty candidate who have pursued their course of study either in a government university or on a government seat in a private/deemed university, must fulfil a mandatory obligation to render one year of compulsory public rural service prior to being eligible for permanent registration with the Karnataka Medical Council".

Referring to a July 28, 2023 notification issued by the Commissionerate, the plea said it includes candidates enrolled on private seats in private/deemed universities.

"Candidates enrolled in private/deemed universities on private seats, undergoing their course of study at significantly higher costs, constitute an intelligible differentia in accordance with the jurisprudence of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution of India," the plea said, adding, consequently, they are not subjected to compulsory service requirements.

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