In a significant development, the Supreme Court has allowed aspirants suffering from 'low vision' to pursue medical studies. This means that a person with low vision can study the MBBS course and treat patients. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee held that the petitioner ruled this while hearing a petition filed by an Ahmedabad-based student. The student had not only cleared the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) but also secured 419th rank in the category of Persons with Disability. Earlier, the top court had allowed colour blind students to pursue medial studies.
The bench said that the petitioner "cannot be denied admission to the MBBS course if he qualifies as per his merit in the category of Persons with Disability. In the event, the petitioner is found to be entitled to admission, he shall be given admission in the current academic year 2018-19". The court found inconsistencies in Medical Council of India's report which said that persons with visual impairment of 40 per cent or more could not be admitted to the undergraduate medical course.
Following which, the top court sought an opinion from a team of experts of three senior members of the Ophthalmic Department. They said that the visual disability of the petitioner, Purswani Ashutosh, was within the benchmark of the Disabilities Act but they opined that he was not fit to pursue MBBS course as per the MCI requirements. However, the experts did not specify the reason for their opinion.
As per provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, a "person with benchmark disability" means "a person with not less than 40 per cent of a specified disability where specified disability has not been defined in measurable terms and includes a person with disability where specified disability has been defined in measurable terms, as certified by the certifying authority".
The court said the Medical Education Regulations framed under Section 33 of the Medical Council Act, 1956 which dealt with disability have statutory force and are binding on the MCI. "The Committee having opined that the petitioner suffers from a benchmark disability, its view with regard to the suitability of the petitioner for the MBBS course cannot override the Medical Education Regulations," it said.