Mumbai: The Bombay High Court as part interim relief to a learning disabled (LD) student seeking admission to a medical college under the person with disabilities quota has directed central and state authorities to verify his documents under the physically handicapped category. The student had been declared ineligible as per rules.
A Justice Riyaz Chagla and Bhushan Gavai bench passed the order in response to a petition filed by Raj Shah, an 18-year-old from Ghatkopar. Shah has challenged the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations as being unreasonable, discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The Council regulations bar students certified with learning disabilities (LD) from 3% reservation set by it for ‘students with disability’ for admissions to health science courses including MBBS and BDS.
The court has sought a response from medical education authorities to the petition , which has been posted for further hearing, after a week.
His lawyer Pooja Thorat had made Department of Medical Education and Research, State CET Cell (designated as Competent Authority by the Government of Maharashtra for selection and admission of candidates to all Health Sciences Course in the State), Medical Counselling Committee, Director General Health Services (which conducts counselling and admits students to MBBS Course through All India Quota respondent), Central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as well as the Directorate General of Health Services and Medical Council of India parties to the petition.
She has also sought directions from the court to them to cast aside the present regulations as flawed and set cast them aside and also hold Shah eligible.
Shah had appeared for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in May 2017. In 2011, he was diagnosed with learning disability.
Interestingly, no such bar exists for students seeking admission to engineering courses and even admission to Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) or law courses.
Thorat’s plea also speaks of directions to be given to MCI to increase the disabled quota from three percent to five as mandated by law.
The important questions she raised were “Whether a student suffering from learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia can be eligible to secure admission to MBBS course under the Physically Handicapped Category” and whether it was open for the Centre and state to “ignore mandatory provisions of The Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016 and refuse them admission under the PH category.”
“A learning disability is not a disease nor an illness,” stated his petition and yet, the MCI rules held students with LD ineligible under the PH category for admission to medical colleges.
A learning disability person is thus given no rank under the category and no certificate of disability as prescribed in admission brochures, the petition further stated.
Stating the urgency in the matter with the last date for online preference submission being July 11, the lawyer on Wednesday, presented his arguments in support of relief before the HC .
The petitioner’s father had also made several representation to authorities in April, and failed to elicit a response from them.
He Counsel arguing his case further mentioned that LD students on the contrary were found to display above average functionality in many areas.
As a matter of fact medical field is a field of science and it can reward many dyslexic mind strengths such as spatial (3 dimensional) reasoning (surgeon, cardiologist, radiologist), narrative reasoning (psychiatric and psychology), inter disciplinary thinking (dermatology, immunology, epidemiology), and dynamic reasoning (preventative health, sport medicine, rehabilitation), said the petition.
He called the Graduate Medical Education Regulations framed by MCI contrary to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 stipulating minimum 5% seat reservation by state aided higher educational institutions for persons with benchmark disabilities. Such students are under the law meant to get an upper age relaxation of five years for admission in institutions of higher education, the petition further added.
The counsel clarifying his stand further said the rules framed by MCI only permited persons suffering from locomotor disability of lower limb between 40 to 70% to seek admission to MBBS course under the physically handicapped category. Whereas persons with disability under the law means “anyone with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinder his full and effective participation in society equally with others.”
The counsel further revealed that all government institutions reserved a minimum of 5% seat in all education institution in favour of candidates belonging to physical handicapped category.
Citing a few successful cases of people with learning disability , the counsel mentioned names of many successful doctors with learning disabilities identical to the petitioner who had made path breaking discoveries in the field of medical science and research:
Dr William Kolff, a renowned physician and pioneer of hemodialysis, as well known for his work in the field of artificial organs during the Second World War.
Dr. Helen Taussif a renowned American Cardiologist, who founded the field of pediatric cardiology though a case of severe dyslexia from her early childhood days.
She was credited with developing the concept for a procedure that would extend the lives of children born with the most common cause of blue baby syndrome reports the TOI.