Thiruvananthapuram: “Reservation cannot be granted to candidates with learning disabilities as there is no method to assess the degree of their disability,” this earlier ruling of a single bench was recently upheld by the Kerala High Court while denying admission to an MBBS aspirant with a learning disability in the state.
Entailing that candidates with learning disabilities are not entitled to take admission to medical courses under quota for disabled persons, the single bench of honorable Judge Anu Sivaraman had observed in a petition filed by one Irene C Thottapilly on August 2. In response to its verdict, the petitioner filed an appeal with the high court.
In her appeal, she informed the court that she is learning disabled and is therefore entitled to be included in the 5% quota reserved for persons with disabilities in terms of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Further informing that she scored great at NEET and was included in the category of physically handicapped at the rank certificate of disability which specifies her disability, the petitioner stated that the prospectus provides for reservation for persons with disability.
However, no guidelines are prescribed to assess the extent of specific learning disability to make the petitioner eligible for admission under the quota. Meanwhile, in the medical examination conducted by the Board formed in accordance with the prospectus, a report was issued stating that the petitioner’s disability in the area of dyslexia/dysgraphia cannot be calculated in percentage and therefore the petitioner was not found eligible for admission in the reservation category.
The petitioner claimed that she had been excluded from admission under the quota set apart for disabled candidates only because the extent of her disability could not be properly assessed. This is challenged on the ground that the petitioner is entitled to the benefit going by the provisions of the Act as amended and Exhibit P2 certificate issued by a competent board.
While advocating against the petitioner, the counsel for the government submitted that a person with a disability would mean a person suffering from not less than 40% of any disability as per the prospectus. Only such candidates can be considered for admission as per clause 4(3) of Medical Council of India Graduate Education Regulations.
Relying on one of the decisions made by the Bombay High Court on the matter of learning disability, the counsel for the government contended against the petition. The Bombay HC judgment in the matter had stated,
“One of the obstacles which come in the way of such candidates in MCI guidelines as accepted by the Government of India, which specifically state that “there is no method of quantifying the extent of disability in Learning Disability. The Government of India has not taken a different stand than MCI. The Government of India has directed that while admitting students under the 21 Benchmark Disabilities, the MCI guidelines and regulations shall be followed.”
In its observation, the bench noted,
“The specific case of the petitioner in the writ petition is that the MCI guidelines would have no applicability since the same have not been promulgated in accordance with law.”
Further observing the whole case, the bench dismissed the writ petition and asserted,
“It is not in dispute before me that in the petitioner’s case there is no method to assess the degree of learning disability and therefore the petitioner cannot be said to have a benchmark disability of more than 40%. In the light of the clear provisions of the prospectus and the MCI guidelines, I am of the opinion that the claim raised by the petitioner cannot be sustained.”
In response, the petitioner filed an appeal with the high court against the verdict, subsequent to which, the division bench led by honourable Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy upheld the said decision, as per TOI.
Medical Dialogues team had recently reported that on the orders of the Supreme Court in a case concerning disability quota for MBBS admissions the Union Health Ministry had presented an amended version of the MCI guideline to the court. These committe report on the matter stated the following in case of Intellectual Disability
- The participants in the meeting disagreed with the finding contained in the Report that there is no method of quantifying the extent of disability in specific learning disability. The stakeholders could produce before the Committee specific learning disability certificates issued by AIIMS, New Delhi and some other Institutions. They appear to have determined the extent of disability based on the guidelines notified by MoSJ&E vide notification dated 05.01.2018.
- The stakeholders apprised that persons with specific learning disability are getting benefits including in jobs in other areas and depriving them from medical education by not extending the PH quota benefit would be unfair.
- It was decided that persons with disability of 40% or more will be allowed to pursue medical education with PH quota. No upper limit needs to be prescribed as the candidate even with such extent of disability would have qualified NEEL Those with disability of less than 40% would not be entitled to PH quota benefit