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Appeal to unlock PG admission

The West Bengal University of Health Sciences on Thursday moved a division bench of Calcutta High Court for an interim stay on the cancellation of postgraduate medical admissions over an alleged software glitch.

The university has appealed against the single-judge bench’s order on the grounds that it would affect 515 doctors who had cleared the postgraduate medical entrance test as well as the counselling round.

“The appeal seeks an order staying the operation of the single-judge bench’s order, allowing the university to start postgraduate classes with the students who have qualified,” counsel D.N. Maity, representing the university, said.

The division bench of Justice S.K. Mukherjee and Justice S.S. Sadhu posted the university’s appeal for hearing on Monday by another division bench.

Candidate Soma Chowdhury, who cracked the entrance test held on January 19 but failed to clear the online counselling, had moved court against the admission process. She said the software used for the counselling round had stalled when she tried to register for the course of her choice.

Justice Ashok Kumar Dasadhikari struck down the admission process on April 8 after a librarian deputed to explain how the software worked failed to demonstrate in court that there was nothing wrong with it.

The admission impasse has to end by July 10, the last date for completing admissions to postgraduate courses. The Medical Council of India is empowered to cancel any admission after the stipulated date.

The rule-book states: “The Medical Council of India may direct that any student identified as having obtained admission after the last date for closure of admission be discharged from the course of study, or any medical qualification granted to such a student shall not be a recognised qualification for the purpose of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.”

While petitioner Soma contends that a software glitch did not allow her to complete the counselling process, vice-chancellor Amit Banerjee said she made a crucial mistake herself. “Soma Chowdhury was trying to apply for a PG diploma even though she already has one, which is why the system rejected her attempt.”

He quoted from a memo (No. COE/UHS/463/2012) sent to the university by the health department to prove his point. “In-service doctors who acquire a postgraduate diploma before joining service are not entitled to pursue another PG diploma on ‘trainee reserve’ as the department of health and family welfare observes that acquiring such a PG diploma will not benefit the government.”

The university had submitted the memo to the single-judge bench, the vice-chancellor said.

“Soma Chowdhury has a diploma in maternity and child welfare from 2001 but she was trying to apply for a postgraduate diploma either in child health or gynaecology and obstetrics,” said controller of examinations Kanta Prasad Sinha.

Soma’s lawyer Murari Mohan Das insisted there were “grey areas” in the rules and his client was well within her rights to apply for a second diploma.

According to the controller of examinations, lawyers representing the university had told the court that Soma would be given another chance to register for a course during the third and last round of counselling. The offer wasn’t accepted.