The Supreme Court, on 15 June, agreed to examine whether a person suffering from ‘low vision', in which eyesight cannot be corrected or improved, can be allowed to pursue MBBS course and treat patients.
This contentious issue came up before a vacation bench of justices U U Lalit and Deepak Gupta which wondered whether it would be feasible to allow a person with visual impairment to become a doctor and treat patients.
The bench issued notices to the Centre and the Gujarat government on a plea filed by a student suffering from 'low vision', who has cleared the NEET 2018 undergraduate examination, seeking a direction for issuance of disability certificate as per law so that he could take admission in MBBS course. The bench said:
"If you talk about any other profession like legal or teaching, it can be understood that even a blind person can successfully pursue the career. As far as MBBS is concerned, we have to see, how much it is feasible and possible." -
Recalling his personal experience with an intern who was blind, Justice Lalit said that he had difficulties in reading the documents and used to convert digital documents into braille, for reading and understanding them.
"After successfully completing his internship with me, he has now become a Rhodes scholar studying at the University of Oxford," Justice Lalit said.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Govind Jee, appearing for minor student Purswani Ashutosh through a doctor, said that there was already a provision for reservation of five percent seats of total intake capacity in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
He said that a direction should be issued to the Centre and Gujarat government for implementing the reservation scheme for persons with benchmark disability as mandated by provisions of the Act and issuance of certificate of disability.
To this, Justice Lalit said that he had studied law from a government law college and a professor who taught him Company law was visually impaired but he remembered everything by heart.
“So in teaching or legal profession, there is no problem but when it comes to medical education, can a person with a disability of low vision be allowed. This we have to see,” the bench said.
It directed the student to be present before the committee of B J Medical College, Ahmedabad within three days from today, with the copy of this order.
"The petitioner shall be medically examined and the appropriate medical certification regarding the claim of the petitioner that he suffers from 'low vision' shall be transmitted to the Registry of this court within four days therefrom," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on 3 July, before an appropriate bench.
The student, in his petition, has claimed that he had appeared for NEET UG examination 2018 under physically handicapped category and has scored all India rank of 4,68,982 and category Physically Handicapped rank as 419 and said that he has fair chance of getting a seat in medical/dental colleges in All India Quota/ the State Government Medical Colleges under the special category.
He said that on 30 May, he had visited Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, Delhi for disability certificate as notified by the central government but they had refused to assess his disability.
The students in his plea said that on 6 June, though his father had even met the doctors concerned of the committee at the BJ Medical College at Ahmedabad for issuance of disability certificate, they received no response from the state government.
He sought urgent disposal of his matter as the counselling process for admissions in MBBS course is going on.
In a landmark move, the apex court had on 24 September, 2017, opened the doors for colour-blind students to pursue MBBS course by ordering admission of two such candidates, who had scored high marks in the entrance examination.
The apex court had said that peculiar facts and circumstances of the case required it to invoke special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution as it was a matter of "transcendental importance of justice".
The two students had secured high marks in the entrance examination conducted by the Tripura government in 2015 during the pre-NEET period.
Without any statutory provision barring students from pursuing MBBS course, various colleges and Medical Council of India (MCI) were arbitrarily denying admissions to candidates suffering from Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD), popularly called colour blindness.
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