New Delhi: In a case filed by two medical aspirants who were unable to pursue MBBS due to their partial colour blindness, the Apex court was seen raising the question -Can a student suffering from colour blindness be allowed to pursue medical courses?
The two aspirants had knocked the doors of the High Court of Tripura and Agartala , after they were declared ineligible for admissions at the stage of counselling in 2015, on the ground that they suffered from partial colour blindness.
In their appeal, the appellants pointed out that there were no regulations framed by the Medical Council of India under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, debarring the likes from admission, for in the absence of a regulation, neither any instruction nor resolution of the MCI could throttle the right to appear. Moreover, they were denied admission based on the Recommendations of the expert Committee of the Medical Council of India
While the State high court refused to interfere with the Decision, the students soon approached the Supreme Court.
Counsel for the students submitted that there is a distinction between visually handicapped person and a person suffering from colour blindness or CVD, but the Medical Council of India has treated both of them at par, as a consequence of which the likes of the appellants have been compelled to face extreme discrimination.
Council for MCI on the other hand pointed out that Regulations by the Medical Council of India may not be always specific and exhaustive and, therefore, in the absence of any specific regulation, it can issue instructions/guidelines or frame or indicate or provide guidance for the purpose of eligibility criteria as regards the candidates who can take admission in the medical courses, for a statutory Council, in all circumstances, may not be in a position to visualise all kinds of situations. He further added that the General Body has specified that the candidates should be able to identify three primary colours and the same would mean that a person who suffers from colour blindness is within the excluded category
Quoting a literature by Mr. J. Anthony B. Splading, the court re-iterated that medical professionals and practitioners suffering from CVD have difficulty in detecting
- “Body color changes (pallor, cyanosis, jaundice)
- Skin rashes and erythema –
- Stage I pressure ulcers –
- Blood or bile in urine, faces, sputum, vomit –
- Malaena – Mouth and throat conditions –
- Test strips for blood and urine –
- Color coded charts, slides, and prints –
- Color coded medications –
- Color sensitive monitors
Addressing the controversy created by lack of clear cut directions by the MCI, the court 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 directions include:-
(I) The Medical Council of India shall constitute a Committee of experts that shall include the representatives of the Medical Council of India, experts from genetics, ophthalmology, psychiatry and medical education, who shall be from outside the members of the Medical Council of India. At this juncture, we must appreciably state that Mr. Vikas Singh, learned senior counsel, has submitted that the Court may say that the persons as experts who are to be taken from outside, shall be from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.
(II) The Medical Council of India may also invite Mr. K.V. Viswanathan along with Mr. M. Shoeb Alam to assist them to take a view. Be it noted, Mr. Vikas Singh has gladly accepted the suggestion.
(III) The expert Committee shall review the situation and take note of the prevalent conditions of the study and practice and suggest changes for adoption in the medical course keeping in view the international practices.
(IV) 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.
(V) The Committee shall meet within a period of three weeks and submit a report to this Court within three months hence.