New Delhi: The Medical Council of India’s (MCI), decision to refrain from giving a nineteen-year-old blind medical aspirant admission to an MBBS course on the basis of severe disability has led the boy to threaten to kill himself. The blind boy cannot see beyond a distance of 8 cm.
Suresh’s plight is that of a victim suffering from persistent neglect and delays, that crowds all government departments. The Karnataka authorities which gave Suresh an admission in 2016, failed to note the sad plight of the boy and it was only brought to notice by the council a year later.
A recent report in HT states that on August 28, Suresh in a written plea titled “ Notice of death”, highlighted his plight and desire to take his life in a five-page letter to the authorities, in which he elaborated on his tussle for the seat.
Mentioning his 70% visual disability, he said he had managed to score 86% in his Class 12 examinations. He also mentioned having sold his ancestral property to pay his first-year fee medical examination fee at a time which was indeed stressful as it coincided with the death of his parents.
“Out of severe depression, I have written to MCI to solve my problem. I have no option but to end my life if I don’t get a solution in my favour,” he told HT over a phone call.
He was allotted a seat at Raichur Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) under the quota for students with a disability. He managed the feet after scoring the 20,000th rank from among the 1.5 lakh applicants in the state’s common entrance test (CET) by officials last year. He joined RIMS, a government college, in July 2016.
On June 26, 2017, the MCI cancelled his admission as he did not fall in the eligibility criteria of lower limb disability, violating a 2009 regulation. The rule says that the only disability allowed in medical colleges is of the lower limbs, and a candidate has to fall under the 50%-70% severity to be eligible for reserved seats. Someone with more than 70% disability is not eligible for admission at all.
In December 2016, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill – 2016 was passed by the parliament which allows 5% reservation without any exception in all educational institutions. The legislation that came into implementation in April 2017, does not apply in Suresh’s case because he took admission last year.
Suresh challenged the MCI’s cancellation order in the Kalaburagi Bench of Karnataka High Court, whose interim order on July 31, allowed him to sit for the first year examination.
“While other students’ results are out, mine has been withheld,” he told HT from his village Byagwat in Raichur.
Though the Council’s decision was based on a rule backed by several medical reports and medical professional viewpoints, Suresh raised several questions regarding his case.
“When regulations don’t allow, why was I allowed to sit for examination? Why wasn’t I informed during counselling by the Karnataka Examination Authority? Why didn’t my college question that?” asked the young lad whose only dream is to become a doctor.
“I can compete with any normal student and perform better than many of them,” he said.
Kavita Patil, Chairman, RIMS, said that she is not aware of Suresh’ suicide note to MCI but is trying to help him by taking up the issue with senior government authorities.
A case related to permitting candidates with colour blindness to pursue medical education is pending in Supreme Court. During hearings, the top court has questioned the policy to completely exclude colour blind candidates from the medical profession.
The MCI analyses all medical college entries and given the scale of the work, it often takes months to scrap admissions.