The Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday allowed the Medical Council of India (MCI) to distinguish between persons with disabilities for the purpose of admission in MBBS course.
On February 2, 2019, MCI promulgated the Regulation on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment), 2019 (the Regulation). As per Annexure H of the Regulation, "Both hands intact, with intact sensations, sufficient strength and range of motion are essential to be considered eligible for medical course". This implies that candidates with locomotive disorder of upper limb disability or upper limb deformity are not eligible to pursue MBBS course.
Based on the Regulation, the Petitioner, Manohar Lal Swami, who had qualified NEET, 2019 Examination in the OBC (NCL) category under PWD quota, was denied admission to MBBS. The Petitioner has congenital left upper limb disability (40% benchmark disability) and does not have the left thumb.
In this backdrop, the Petitioner, through Advocate Sandeep Singh Shekhawat pursued the case captioned "Manohar Lal Swami v. State of Rajasthan & Ors.", contending that the Regulation was contrary to the definition of "person with disability", as provided under Section 2(s) of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (the Act). Further, it was submitted that no such differentiation in the persons suffering from locomotive disability could be made in terms of Section 32 and 33 of the Act
Reliance was placed on the decision of division bench of Principal Seat at Jodhpur in Ms. Geetika Tanwar v. State of Rajasthan & Ors., W. P. (C) No. 15318/2017 wherein the bench had directed admission of a candidate in MBBS despite her having deformity in upper limb. In this case, "the Medical Board assessed her permanent physical impairment at 60.18% but opined that that she should be able to learn and perform medical aspect of MBBS course in adapted and modified manner but she should have difficulty in learning and performing surgical aspects of MBBS course particularly procedures requiring both hands".
The Respondent, through Advocate Angad Mirdha contended that exclusion of Petitioner from the MBBS Course due to absence of left thumb was justified in as much as the Supreme Court had in Dr. Narayan Sharma & Anr. v. Dr. Pankaj Lehkar & Ors., (2000) 1 SCC 44, laid down that there cannot be any relaxation/dilution of standards in MBBS or PG courses and also reiterated the binding character of the regulations of the Council. It was also submitted that the Regulation was notified after seeking expert opinions and due approvals from the government.
He further submitted that as per the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of AIIMS, the Petitioner had permanent impairment of 30% in relation to left upper limb, which was clearly below the benchmark disability as defined under Section 2(r) of the Act. Thus, the Petitioner was ineligible to pursue MBBS Course as he did not possess minimum functional abilities to perform skills required of a medical graduate such as basic life-saving resuscitation as well as operative interventions etc.
Finding merit in the Respondent's arguments that it was the duty of MCI to ensure that aspiring students possess minimum functional abilities/competencies which are required to complete the training programme of MBBS satisfactorily and that the patients are also safe under the care of such medical graduates, the division bench of Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Narendra Singh Dhaddha dismissed the petition.
The court concluded that"…the MCI can distinguish between various persons with disabilities for the purpose of admission in MBBS course and such determination by the MCI shall not be in conflict with the provisions of the Act of 2016".
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