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SC postpones AIIMS’ PG exams, scheduled for June 16, by a month

It takes into consideration the fatigue within medical community after battling the devastating second wave of pandemic

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the postponement of the AIIMS’ Post Graduate Entrance Test-INICET exams, scheduled for June 16, by a month after taking into consideration the fatigue within the medical community after battling a particularly devastating second wave of the pandemic.

A group of doctors had moved the Supreme Court challenging an AIIMS notification, which announced the exam in June in “utter disregard” of an assurance from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to postpone the PG exams by four months.

‘Notification is arbitrary’

A Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M.R. Shah concluded that the notification was “arbitrary” and ordered the exam to be postponed by “at least one month”.

The petition highlighted an assurance from the authorities that students would be given a month’s time to prepare for the exams. It said doctors such as the 26 petitioners in the case were also promised that they would be given the Prime Minister’s COVID National Service Samman and priority in government recruitment on completing 100 days of COVID service. Instead, the notification has put undue pressure on an exhausted community of doctors to prepare for their exams within a short period.

“The notification and conduct of examination on June 16, June, 2021, is not in public interest, as in view of the present condition of the country and non-availability of doctors, beds in the hospitals coupled with the fact that there is a dearth of COVID-19 vaccination, many doctors have taken a job or duty in a State which is not their own, and also many of them were preparing for their PG examinations, however, when the assurance from the Prime Minister’s Office came, a lot of them took jobs/duties other than their own States and became frontline workers,” senior advocate Arvind Datar argued for the petitioners.

Travel restrictions

He said there was not enough time for most of them to travel back in order to take the exams and they were most likely to be affected by travel restrictions as imposed by different States. “This puts undue burden on already fatigued, distressed and tired doctors,” he submitted.

The examination, scheduled to take place in May, was postponed due to the worsening COVID-19 situation. There were some 815 seats in 10 colleges for which more than 80,000 doctors would appear and take the examination.

Mr. Datar submitted that it was unfair to conduct the exam when, under the present circumstances, the Board examinations (Central Board of Secondary Education 10th and 12th Grade) and other professional examinations had been either cancelled or postponed.

Advocate Dushyant Parashar, for the AIIMS, took time to urgently consult with the authorities concerned. He came back to inform the court that postponement would mean “massive involvement of logistics”, but left the final decision in the court’s hands.

“So, we want you to adjourn it for a month,” the Bench told him.

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