The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Medical Council of India to constitute a committee of experts to look into the areas of practice that MBBS aspirants suffering from colour blindness could indulge in.
“The expert committee shall also concentrate on diagnostic test for progress and review of the disorder and what are the available prosthetics aids to assist CVD medical practitioners and what areas of practice could they undertake without difficulty with these aids,” a bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar ordered.
It said the committee shall include representatives of the Medical Council of India, and experts from genetics, ophthalmology, psychiatry and medical education, who shall be from outside the members of the Medical Council of India.
It has been directed to submit a report to the court within three months. The matter has been listed for July 11.
The court was hearing a petition filed by two MBBS aspirants, who were declared ineligible for admissions at the stage of counselling in 2015, on the ground that they suffered from partial colour blindness.
Colour blindness is a condition in which a person cannot distinguish between certain colours, usually between green and red, and occasionally blue.
Challenging the decision of the committee concerned, the petitioners had then approached the High Court of Tripura and Agartala, contending that there existed no regulation framed by the Medical Council of India, under the Medical Council Act, 1956, debarring them from seeking admission. The high court had, however, refused to interfere, and had dismissed the petition.
The counsel on behalf of the petitioners had now contended that it was “obligatory” on the part of the Medical Council of India to take a “progressive measure so that an individual suffering from CVD may not feel like an alien to the concept of equality, which is the fon juris of our Constitution”.
It was further submitted by amicus curiae Viswanathan that a complete ban on the admission of individuals suffering from CVD to MBBS course would violate conferment of equal opportunities and fair treatment.
To buttress this submission, he had made reference to provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, to which India is a signatory.
Viswanathan opined that since colour blindness is not considered as a disability under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the disciplines that people affected by colour blindness take up need a relook.
The defendants, on the other hand, had submitted that since the complete diagnosis and prognosis of a disease or disorder may depend upon colour detection, there is requirement for restriction in the field of practice of an individual with colour blindness in this country.
Considering rival submissions, the court made reference to a judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of Dr Kunal Kumar v Union of India and others, and also to a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court in Parmesh Pachar v Convener, Central.
While the Delhi HC had concurred with the view that people with colour blindness may not be able to pursue certain courses or disciplines, the Rajasthan HC had opined that students suffering from disabilities cannot be debarred from seeking admissions.
The apex court, however, wished neither to lean in favour of the view of Delhi High Court nor generally accept the perception of Rajasthan High Court. It, thereby, directed an assessment by the expert committee, and observed, “Total exclusion for admission to medical courses without any stipulation in which they really can practice and render assistance would tantamount to regressive thinking… The march of science, apart from our constitutional warrant and values, commands inclusion and not exclusion. That is the way a believer in human rights should think”.
Read the Judgment here.