Should NMC Do Away With MBBS Seat Leaving Penalty?

Should NMC Do Away With MBBS Seat Leaving Penalty?

Experts and students opine on the system that penalises one who attempts a mid-way exit.

Sunidhi VijayUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 03:39 PM IST
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Post-graduate medical students in the country are often subjected to a bond which restricts their free exit from medical education midway. This bond referred to as the ‘seat leaving’ bond is a legal document signed between the student and the college which imposes a hefty fine on the students on leaving their medical education midway. 

State-specific bond policy

Each state has its own criteria and bond policy that candidates must sign before being admitted to various medical institutes in India. This bond was started to discourage students from wasting medical seats, which are valuable and in scarcity, given the huge number of students who want to be admitted to medical colleges. In medical colleges, bonds are classified under three types: service bonds, discontinue penalty bonds and bank guarantees.

The fine may range from as high as Rs 50 lakh in some states like Telangana to Rs 5 lakh in others. The fine for leaving a seat midway in Maharashtra is Rs 20 lakh. Additionally, the students are also banned from appearing in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for one year.

Medical professionals perspective

“The medical seat leaving bond is needed, keeping in mind the fact that every year lakhs of students compete for a medical seat. Competition is so high, that even a mark also means people who can’t make it, wait for the whole year and repeat the exam. Therefore, such a valuable seat can’t be wasted,” said Dr Kathak Modi-Shah, a dermatologist and aesthetician. 

She further adds, “If a student has a financial problem and is unable to pay the fees because of the high medical fee structure, which shoots up like a rocket every year, subsidies or divided fee structures or student loans can be granted. However, leaving a seat in the middle is of no point.”

Speaking on the issue of mental harassment in medical colleges which may lead to students wanting to leave the education in between, Dr Modi-Shah says, “There are anti-ragging committees to help the students. If complaints are raised to the right person, they can be helped out. Mental harassment is a major situation in all medical colleges, more so in post-graduation. It's something that the system has to improve but that doesn’t justify leaving the seat.”

This stance resonated with Dr Mitul Shah, a cardiologist.

“Every seat of MBBS is precious. Wastage of seats is a waste of multiple resources. There has to be a policy to prevent such wastage and give it to someone who deserves it if required,” Dr Shah says. He further added that every case is different and cannot be generalised, instead a case should be evaluated based on merit. 

Dr Navya Thota, an anaesthesiologist, commented that the bond is a double-edged sword. “Government spends lakhs on an MBBS student. If the penalty was scrapped, everyone would have the freedom to leave anytime leading to the loss of valuable seats which other deserving candidates could have secured,” Dr Thota said.

She further said that instead, there is a need to establish a fair and unbiased system that could evaluate such cases and help the student to reconsider before levying hefty fines. “I have known seniors who paid a penalty and left their PG seats because of an atrocious workload. At an undergraduate level, it could be ragging, health issues and many other things. In such situations scrapping the seat leaving penalty is a welcome decision,” Dr Thota added.

However, many are against the bond completely. According to many, the bond reflects the system's unfairness and rigidness. 

On Jan 19, the National Medical Commission's Anti-Ragging Committee also encouraged States and union territories to abolish the seat-leaving bond policy at medical institutions. 

“I agree with the decision taken by the UP government. Seat leaving penalty was a curse for poor students. In our country, many promising students were unable to leave their seats in colleges due to excessive amount of seat leaving penalty and suffered restrictions imposed by professors, torture or serious illness and were forced to resort to suicide,” a prominent doctor commented on the condition of anonymity.

He further added that other state governments should also follow the UP government’s example. 

“The penalty should be scrapped. Many students realise they want to switch careers, while others fail multiple times after getting into MBBS and want to leave it,” said Dr Dheeraj Maheshwari, a senior resident of forensic medicine. Dr Maheshwari further added that other students also have financial problems. 

Another resident doctor said on the condition of anonymity, “I know many of my friends who would have left the education in between because of the sheer amount of mental harassment that the doctors have to face. It is sad that the bond still exists even when the suicide among resident doctors is as high as ever. This penalty only further puts mental strain on students.”

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