Delhi

Delhi HC overturns AIIMS admission criteria, calls it ‘unreasonable’

AIIMS has ‘unreasonably and arbitrarily’ excluded certain candidates only on the basis of the mode of their learning, the Delhi court observed. File

AIIMS has ‘unreasonably and arbitrarily’ excluded certain candidates only on the basis of the mode of their learning, the Delhi court observed. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu photo library

Delhi High Court has quashed a new rule introduced by the India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in April this year, barring candidates who acquired their B.Sc. (Post Basic) degree through distance learning mode from pursuing M.Sc. (Nursing).

Justice Sanjeev Narula remarked that the AIIMS has “unreasonably and arbitrarily” excluded certain candidates only on the basis of the mode of their learning, particularly when there is a lack of evidence to show that education through distant learning is inferior, or any less credible, compared to what is provided in regular classes.

The High Court’s decision came on a petition filed by some in-service nursing officers, working at the AIIMS, who, in order to improve and upgrade their formal education, obtained their B.Sc. (Post Basic) degree from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) through distant learning medium.

To further enhance their professional career, the nursing officers sought to apply for the M.Sc. (Nursing) course being run by AIIMS itself. However, on April 29, 2022, AIIMS issued a fresh notification to exclude those with distant learning degrees from the eligibility conditions for the M. Sc (Nursing) course.

In response, the AIIMS told the court that it is obliged to maintain high standards of medical education in India and is thus empowered to prescribe courses and curricula for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

The institute also said that degrees obtained through distance learning mode cannot be equated with those obtained through the formal system of education, which requires rigours of hands-on physical training. It argued that the same cannot be substituted by a degree obtained through online mode.

Justice Narula, however, said that the AIIMS has failed to place any material on record disclosing a “rational or scientific basis” for such disqualification and no justification exists for considering the online mode as inferior to the traditional mode of teaching.

“One fails to understand how a qualification that is recognised for employment by AIIMS itself in the nursing cadre has been rejected for pursuing an academic course citing lack of practical training,” Justice Narula remarked.

The High Court observed that the AIIMS can prescribe eligibility criteria and set the bar for admission in courses so long as the restriction is not discriminatory.

“However, AIIMS cannot dislodge the uniformity in standards set by the INC (Indian Nursing Council) – which is acting under a central legislation; and nullify/curtail recognition of IGNOU B.Sc. (Post Basic) degree in the process of determining admission criteria,” the High Court said.

“The impugned condition in the impugned notice and prospectus is arbitrary insofar as it prevents eligible candidates from pursuing higher studies by making an unreasonable classification between persons obtaining the same degree through traditional teaching mode and distant learning, and are thus, quashed,” the High Court noted.


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Printable version | Sep 8, 2022 3:39:53 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/hc-overturns-aiims-admission-criteria-calls-it-unreasonable/article65650741.ece