A higher bar will be set up for disabled students who seek admission in undergraduate courses in medical colleges. Medical Council of India (MCI) in a notification has recommended that the minimum degree of disability should be set at 40 percent for people with disabilities to obtain the reservation. Those below the minimum requirements with visual or hearing impairment or both can be eligible for the course, but no reservation.
Ministry of Health has asked for public opinions on the matter. Many contests that the guidelines are in violation of the Disability Act. Since learning disabilities can’t be accurately quantified, it becomes unfair to some citizens. The upper limit of disabilities is 80 percent. Times of India quoted the MCI notice as saying, “Persons with more than 80 percent disability may also be allowed; but after their selection, their functional competency will be determined with the aid of assistive devices.”
National Testing Agency and MCI have been asked by the Health Ministry to allow such aspirants to fill up the NEET-UG application form. There had been a confusion about the eligibility criteria for physically handicapped aspirants. The last date to submit applications has been extended to 7 December.
Disabled rights groups have objected to a new proposal by the board of governors currently discharging the functions of the Medical Council of India to set a 40% limit for disability for a person to study medicine. The doctors represent “pan-India doctors with disabilities who have fought their disabilities, overcome adversity and now successfully serving society to fullest of their capabilities”.
The draft guidelines for admission to medical courses were uploaded on the internet earlier this month with the BoG headed by Niti Aayog member Dr Vinod Paul seeking public suggestions on the proposal. In a signed letter to the BoG, 75 doctors have cited modern technology and court cases to make the points that restricting medical degrees to only those with 40% or less disability is s decision that is neither up to date with the times, nor with the legal precedences set.
Talking about the 40% limit of hearing disability, the doctors have written: “MBBS admission of hearing impaired with more than 40% disability is no longer res-integra. A 70% hearing impaired girl was denied admission but Delhi High Court in a landmark decision granted her admission. The decision was challenged by MCI in double bench but they withdraw appeal after SC gave the landmark decision in Ashutosh Puruswani case. The girl is doing MBBS at VMMC Delhi now and become the first deaf girl to get admission under disability quota.”
Apart from pointing out the deficiencies in the proposal, the letter also asks the BoG to involve people living with disabilities in the decision making process. “People with disability are the real experts regarding their condition
and similarly doctors with disabilities are most experienced people to consult regarding policy decisions. MoHFW and MCI are requested to consult them in all such policy decisions to avoid unnecessary litigations,” the letter says.
Among the signatories of the letter are Dr Satendra Singh, Associate Professor of Physiology, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Dr Sangeeta Sharma, HoD Pediatrics, National Institute of Tuberculosis & Respiratory Diseases, Delhi, Dr Arun Pandey, Orthopedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi etc.