MBBS in PaK: HC asks GoI to consider petitioner's registration as Medical Practitioner

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J&K High Court has directed External Affairs Ministry, Government of India, to consider the case of a candidate who has pursued MBBS from Pakistan administered Kashmir for her registration as Medical Practitioner.

“I deem it appropriate to call upon respondent No.1(Ministry of  External Affairs GoI ) to consider the case of the petitioner for recognition of her MBBS qualification and also for registering her as a Medical Practitioner purely on equitable considerations,” reads a judgment by Justice Sanjeev Kumar. The court asked the government to take decision in this regard within four weeks.

Hadiya Chisti from Srinagar has approached the court seeking directions for registering her as a Medical Practitioner. She has done her MBBS from Benazir Bhutto Medical College, Mirpur in PaK.

National Board of Examination had refused to permit Chisti in the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination/Screening Test. However, on the interim directions of court, she was provisionally allowed to sit in the Screening Test. She obtained 156 marks out of 300 and qualified the test.

“Petitioner is a citizen of India and has obtained MBBS degree from a Medical College which is situated within the territory of India. There could be no dispute that the area known as ‘PoK’ is an integral part of India, though the same is under the occupation and administrative control of Pakistan,” the court said in the judgement.

“If that be the admitted position, a medical institution operating in the area (PaK) cannot be expected to seek any recognition from MCI. The MCI does not exercise de-facto control and powers over the territory known as PoK, though it may claim to have territorial jurisdiction extending to that area de-jure,” court said.

The court observed there was no mechanism in place and in the given circumstances there could not be such mechanism which would provide for recognition of the medical institutions located in PaK by MCI. The India Medical Council Act 1956 and the rules and regulations framed there under, the court said, do not lay down any specific provision to deal with such a peculiar situation.

“Admittedly, Medical College in Mirpur cannot be said to be a Medical Institution outside India nor the same is included in the Second Schedule. That being the position, Section 12 of the Act of 1956 would have no applicability,” court said.

PaK, where the Medical College in question is situated, the court said, cannot be regarded as a foreign country, therefore applicability of sub-section (4A) and (4B) of Section 13 of the Act is completely ruled out.

“If that be the position as it is, the petitioner was not obliged to obtain an eligibility certificate in terms of sub-section (4B) nor was she required to qualify the screening test conducted by MCI in terms of sub-section (4A),” court said.

“The petitioner has suffered and is suffering because of the fact that she has obtained MBBS degree from a medical institution which though is in India but is under the effective administrative control of Pakistan.”

“In absence of specific advisory having been issued by the Ministry of External Affairs or some other competent authority, the citizens of India, more particularly those residing in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, are most likely to fall prey to such conundrum created by peculiar fact situation.”

The court said it was of view that the case of the petitioner deserved to be considered by the Union External Affairs Ministry as a special case. “More so when she has qualified Foreign Medical Graduate Examination/Screening Test conducted by the National Board of Examinations.”

The court has made clear that the case of the petitioner has been decided in view of its peculiar facts and circumstances saying the same shall not be treated as a precedent to be followed in future. “But for the permission granted by respondent No.1 (External Affairs Ministry) and the Visa by Pakistan, the petitioner would not have pursued the course of MBBS.”

The court directed the respondents to issue requisite advisory in the matter “informing the citizens of India about the status of educational institutions including medical institutions operating in the territories of India under the occupation and administrative control of Pakistan so that the citizens, particularly the students, are properly informed of the consequences of obtaining qualifications from such institutions.”

The petitioner was represented by senior advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganai while the External Affairs Ministry was represented by Tahir Shamsi.