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Can NEET candidates with low benchmark disability get MBBS admission against vacant seats? Delhi HC asks Centre to decide
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court bench on Tuesday asked the Central Government to decide if candidates with less than benchmark disability should be allowed to get admitted in the MBBS course against the unfilled seats reserved for persons with disabilities (PwD).This direction was issued by the Delhi High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma while considering the plea...
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court bench on Tuesday asked the Central Government to decide if candidates with less than benchmark disability should be allowed to get admitted in the MBBS course against the unfilled seats reserved for persons with disabilities (PwD).
This direction was issued by the Delhi High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma while considering the plea by an MBBS aspirant having permanent locomotor disability, who was found to be short of the 40 per cent threshold prescribed for a benchmark disability – a precondition for claiming reservation in education.
Issuing notice to the Union Government through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the HC bench has asked the Centre to consider consider the representation of the petitioner made to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment last month.
Approaching the Union Government authorities, the petitioner urged for assistance in gaining a reserved vacant seat and requested to consider reevaluating the reservation scheme in institutes of higher education regarding candidates who have permanent disabilities less than 40% and who are passed over for unfilled vacancies in favour of Un-Reserved candidates without any disabilities.
Asking the Central Government to consider the representation, the bench observed, “The Union of India will certainly look into the representation and will be free to take a policy decision.”
The bench has also directed the Centre that the response should also include all the comments made on the representation and the decision taken in the matter.
Also Read: MBBS Admission: Bombay HC orders medical re-examination of student with locomotor disability
Notice has also been issued to the National Medical Commission (NMC), National Testing Agency and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in this regard and the HC bench has sought their reply within three weeks.
Issuing notice in this regard, the Delhi High Court bench has listed it for further hearing on April 13, 2023.
The HC bench was considering the plea by an MBBS aspirant having a permanent locomotor disability, who scored 96.06 percentile in NEET-UG 2022, adds PTI. Even though she claims to have 50% locomotor disability, GMCH Chandigarh and AIIMS Medical board found her disability to be 30%. Therefore, she fell short of the 40% threshold required to be eligible for a benchmark disability under section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, the petitioner student sought to be admitted in the MBBS course against one of the vacant seats under the PwD category. However, she claimed that even after getting 42nd rank under the Unreserved- Persons with Disabilities (UR-PwD) category in the examination, she was declared to be ineligible for admission by GMCH Chandigarh, which found her disability to be 30%.
This was in contrast to the disability recorded by a medical officer in Punjab, who had certified the candidate to be having 50% locomotor disability. Therefore, due to the disability certificate issued by GMCH Chandigarh, the candidate fell short of 40% threshold of disability.
When she approached the Court, on the basis of the court's order, a medical board set up by AIIMS examined her and found her to be eligible for pursuing MBBS. However, her disability was marked to be 30%.
However, filing the plea before the Delhi High Court, the candidate challenged the constitutional validity of section 32(1) of RPW Act read with note 3 of the 2019 Amendment has been challenged as being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since the provisions restrict the benefit of reservation in higher education institutes only to persons with benchmark disabilities.
It was submitted by the petitioner that the AIIMS Medical Board did not account for her deformity in the index finger in the report. The report had been made while taking into account only the deformity in the middle and ring fingers, along with the missing portion of corresponding metacarpals.
“If the deformity in the Petitioner’s index finger had been accounted for, her disability would have stood at 45%, thereby entitling her to the benefit of reservation,” stated the plea.
Taking note of the submission, the HC bench has asked the Central Government to consider the representation of the petitioner made to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment last month.
“UOI (Centre) will certainly look into the representation by the petitioner and shall be free to take a policy decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.
The HC bench also appreciated the efforts of Bajaj, a specially-abled lawyer, for supporting the cause of the petitioner student, the bench further observed, “The court really appreciates the sincere efforts or the counsel for petitioner who is himself a specially-abled lawyer who has prepared the case so well and is espousing the cause of another person who is specially abled.”
“Registry of this court is directed to furnish copies of all documents in accessible format to the counsel for the petitioner for enabling him to go through them and argue the matter,” the court ordered.
Besides seeking allotment of a seat to her under the PWD category in the NEET-UG 2022, the petitioner assailed legal provisions restricting the benefit of reservation to persons with benchmark disabilities alone.
The petitioner said a cut-off must not be arbitrarily determined and enforced in a way that leaves candidates who do not meet the cut-off completely high and dry, especially in favour of candidates with no disability at all.
Also Read: Lady Hardinge Medical College assesses MBBS aspirant's disability as 100 percent, HC seeks response from Centre, NMC
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at email@example.com.