Chennai: The Madras High Court has termed the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) recent amendment on disability which bars students of more than 40 per cent blindness to pursue MBBS courses; as “arbitrary”.
The HC bench observed that the MCI amendments do not foresee the emotional impact of studying medicine with disabilities.
These observations came in view of a petition filed by the state government against a single judge order where a visually impaired student, who sought MBBS admission after being rejected an MBBS seat despite clearing NEET, was granted life-changing relief by the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.
In September last year, Medical Dialogues had reported about the case of the said MBBS aspirant, J Vibin, who had scored 220 marks in NEET and had secured an All India Rank of 285 under the Disability quota.
In his petition, he added that the disability certificate that was issued by the state government stated that he had 75% visual impairment. Based on this counselling he was allotted Government Medical College, Pudukottai.
However, when he went to the medical college, he was asked to produce a fresh certificate to be issued by Madras Medical college. Doctors at Madras Medical College stated that he had 90% visual impairment, thus making him unfit for MBBS course under the disability rules. Based on the MMC order, his admission got turned down by the medical college.
Challenging the certificate issued by the MMC, contrary to the one issued by the state government, his petition before the court stated the MMC certificate was not signed by the specialist concerned and was incomplete.
Moreover, the petition challenged the grounds stating the medical college had no authority to say no to an admission allotment by the competent authority.
Thereafter during the hearing before the single judge bench, Justice V Parthiban had allowed the plea of the MBBS candidate.
The judge cited the Right to Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 which ensures reservation for the differently abled persons and directed the Secretary of Selection Committee to allot a seat to the aspirant.
Thereafter, in response, the state had filed a petition aggrieved by the said order of the single bench.
During the hearing of the state’s appeal, the division bench of honourable Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and T Krishnavalli noted the submission by the student’s counsel about section 32(1) of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act, which provides for reserving seats for the people with benchmark disabilities in higher education institutions.
The court further took note of the MCI notification dated February 4. According to the amendment, a student with less than 40% of disability is eligible for medical course but not eligible under persons with disability quota; and when the disability level is equal to or more than 40% disability they are not eligible for medical course at all.
While dismissing the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government, the HC bench held
“… the MCI regulations denying reasonable accommodation is discriminatory. The MCI guidelines did not foresee the emotional impact of studying medicine with disabilities. Candidates with learning disabilities or any other disability should not be barred from entering the field of medicine. The principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and PWD Act should be followed in their letter and spirit…
..The arbitrary, sudden and unreasoned amendment to the notification is violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India and also the doctrine of legitimate expectation.The subsequent amendment should not operate to the prejudice of the people with disabilities, particularly, when the person had qualified and cleared the eligibility criteria…
…While framing the guidelines, doctors with disabilities ought to have been considered and the competency of a doctor with disability cannot be assumed, as unless it is experienced one may not understand the same…”
The court concluded,
“this Court is of the view that the order of the learned Single Judge need not be interfered with. Accordingly, the Writ Appeal is dismissed confirming the order of the learned Single Judge dated 20.09.2018 with a further direction that the benefit of the relief given by the learned Single Judge to allot a seat to the petitioner shall be given effect to for the academic year 2019-2010.”
Attached is the detailed judgment below: