The fourth-year nursing student suffers from deuteranomaly, a form of colour blindness which causes reduced sensitivity to green light
Mumbai: Seeking clarification on allowing students with colour blindness to pursue medical and related courses, the Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government and the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to submit its stand on the matter.
The direction surfaced during a hearing of a petition filed by one nursing student, Naik, who moved the court after his admission was cancelled because he suffered from partial colour blindness. The court also sought a reply from the state-run JJ Institute of Nursing on the petition.
In his petition, the fourth-year nursing student submitted that he suffers from deuteranomaly, a form of colour blindness which causes reduced sensitivity to green light, and he cannot, therefore, recognise the colour “light green”.
In the year 2016, when he was in the second year of the five-year course, the college authorities rusticated him on the same ground. Hence, he approached the HC.
PTI reports that the court granted him interim relief and asked the college to readmit him. However, following another medical test last year, the authorities asked him to quit the course. The petition claimed that his condition was not so severe that he should not be allowed to pursue the course.
The student has completed the course and is now facing the prospect of not being awarded his degree, reports TOI.
The government, however, opposed the petition. It produced a medical expert in the HC to argue that while it was “sympathetic” to the nursing student; his condition could cause potential risk to patients. The government pointed to the medical evaluation which revealed that the nursing student had failed in eight out of nine parameters of the colour blindness test.
Dr S S Bhatti, Ophthalmology Professor at Grant Medical College, who was called in as an expert, demonstrated the condition to the court, using a mobile phone app. “The impact would be when a medical professional is handling colour coded tablets or instruments while in a surgery,” said Dr Bhatti.
The HC bench of honourable Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar directed the Maharashtra government and the authorities at JJ Hospital, to which the college is affiliated, to “sit together” and make their stand clear in the matter in two weeks. TOI reports that the HC further asked the concerned medical education authorities to clarify their stand on admitting students with colour blindness to medical and related courses.
“The authorities should consider factors such as safety of patients, Supreme Court’s past judgements in similar cases and the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.”
The judges asked the government and JJ Hospital authorities to give further consideration to the matter and file their reply. The bench stated,
“This is an issue of vital importance and the state has to clarify what is its stand on admitting students with colour blindness to medical and related courses. The court cannot place the lives of the general public at stake.”
It also directed the nursing student to inform if there existed any technology or a form of medical assistance that could help him pursue the course without putting patients’ safety in peril. The bench also asked the authorities to find out if technology or gadgets were available to help students circumvent the condition.
“Our sympathies are with the student but there can be no compromise with a patient’s health.”