SC notice to govt on medical students who returned from Ukraine

Published on Aug 26, 2022 11:47 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre on a petition filed by Indian medical students from war-torn Ukraine, seeking permission to complete their education in the country

Other counsels appearing for the students informed the Court that some of the states had agreed to accommodate these students. (AP)
Other counsels appearing for the students informed the Court that some of the states had agreed to accommodate these students. (AP)
ByAbraham Thomas, New delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre on a petition filed by Indian medical students from war-torn Ukraine, seeking permission to complete their education in the country.

The top court referred to a report prepared by the committee on external affairs and submitted to the Parliament on August 3, which recommended that Indian students who had returned from Ukraine after war broke out with Russia should be allowed to complete their medical courses in the country.

A bench of justices Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath said, “In view of the recommendation (by a committee of external affairs) the petitioner seeks appropriate directions from the Government of India and National Medical Commission (NMC) in respect of students from Ukraine. Issue notice.” The Court sought a response by September 5.

Senior advocate, R Basant appearing for the students, said that 20,000 students are affected. While many are in their first year of the undergraduate medical course, there are some who were about to complete the course within a year. “I cannot go back to Ukraine. It is a question of our lives. Some amount of nudging by the Court can help these prospective doctors. They have invested their life into it,” said Basant representing the students.

The bench told Basant, “We are not going to enter into the merits of these students. But the fact is that you chose Ukraine and chose not to be in India. These are 20,000 students. Does India have the capacity to accommodate them?” The Court said that it was not that everybody had left Ukraine as there were people still continuing to live there. “You chose life over education,” the bench remarked.

Other counsels appearing for the students informed the Court that some of the states had agreed to accommodate these students. However, an order was issued by the Centre asking states not to do so without its consent. The bench, too, pointed out that Kazakhstan had come forward to accommodate its students from Ukraine. Basant said, “Centre has extraordinary powers to act in a situation like this. If other governments can do it, why not India?”

The external affairs committee, in its report, had said, “These students have been left in a quandary as they could not re-join their courses physically or complete their internship or training in India.”

It also noted that the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had recommended to the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) to consider the case of the Ukraine returnees as a one-time exemption. It said, “The Committee urges the MEA to pursue the matter with the MoHFW vigorously as this step alone may solve the current crisis being faced by the students enrolled in Ukrainian universities and enable them to complete their courses.”

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