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Supreme Court Issues Notice to Govt on Doctors’ Plea: GST Exemption on DNB Fee

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice in a plea filed by the Association of DNB Doctors against the imposition of 18% GST on fees deposited by DNB Candidates.

Facts of the case:-

The Association approached the Apex Court questioning the inclusion of GST charges in the annual course fees of DNB candidates. Diplomate of National Board (DNB) is a Post-graduate Master’s degree same as an MD/MS degree awarded to the Specialist Doctors in India after completion of a three-year residency. DNB courses are run and the degrees are awarded by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), New Delhi, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to the candidates on successful completion of their postgraduate residency.

Interpretation of law & Conclusion:-

A Division Bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah issued notice on the petition while making note of the following submissions; (1) GST at 18% is being charged on course fee payable by candidates for DNB Course conducted under National Board of Examination. (2) The fee of 1.25 lakhs which was enhanced on 3 April 2019 is by virtue of clarification dated 15th Feb 2021 being applied to all ongoing broad specialities, super specialty and fellowship courses irrespective of year of joining. (3) As regards GST, the Government’s notification issued by the Ministry of Finance and Department of Revenue dated 7th June 2021 indicates that there is an exemption for payment of payment GST.

During the hearing, Mr Nadkarni submitted that even when the Board’s notification itself states that the fee cannot be increased by more than 5%, the fee has been increased from 80,000 to 1 lakh. Regarding their prayer for directions to the National Medical Commission to conduct Practical Theory Exams of 2 consecutive sessions December 2020 & June 2021 with a gap of a minimum of one month, Mr Nadkarni submitted that he would argue that aspect later.

“The Respondent conducts DNB exams for broad speciality, super speciality courses. I’m doubtful if this notification will apply to these institutions charging fees for courses”, Justice Chandrachud said.

” It is an important issue, anyway we should consider it”, Justice Chandrachud said. “They have not increased the fee, it is due to GST that it has come to more than 1 lakh”, Justice Shah said.

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