Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bombay HC favours aspiring candidates with cerebral palsy for admission to MBBS; Orders re-constitution of Medical Board with 2 Neuro-specialists [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

This petition by two candidates with cerebral palsy who are aspiring to become doctors/ surgeons revolves around three larger questions often faced by many candidates with disabilities aspiring to be doctors:
(a) Whether a person with cerebral palsy can be a doctor?
(b) Whether the 40-70% disability criteria set by MCI for admission to MBBS courses is constitutionally valid ?
(c) Whether  a team of ophthalmologist, a pathologist, an orthopaedic, a general physician and a surgeon can assess the disability of a person with cerebral palsy in absence of a neuro specialist?

The Medical Board set up by State Directorate of Medical Education and Research mechanically assessed the candidates above 70% disability looking at the etiology of their disability i.e. cerebral palsy. The Board did not have neuro-specialists. Hon'ble Bench ordered to re-examine the candidates citing that the Medical Board was not competent to even assess the candidates with cerebral palsy. The court expressed that the Medical Board should include two doctors who have a specialization in neuroscience and asked for re-constitution of the same to assess the disability and to keep two seats vacant for them.  However, it seems the judgement doesn't address the impugned criteria of 40-70% disability!  Another area that is worth our concern is the tendency of authorities to adjust candidates with disabilities in disability quota even when the candidates have scored higher marks in the common entrance test like general candidates. This must be checked at every stage.

It is pertinent to mention that the candidates did not have functional impediment of upper limbs, they had a restriction of the lower limbs while walking. However, since the disability is a result of cerebral palsy, the medical board often indicates all four limbs involved. Same is the case with the List of identified posts by Govt. of India wherein the assessment or identification doesn't highlight the functional abilities as it mechanically goes with categories as One Arm, One Leg, Both Legs. Merely on the basis of slight involvement of limbs the candidates are declared ineligible even where the affected limb hasn't lost its functional competence. (Eg. a person with a deformed feet but with no functional limitation in walking is declared as ineligible for a post not meant for both leg affected candidate.) These inconsistencies in the list of identified jobs and their mechanical implementation by departments is causing more harm than good.

Click here for the Combined Court Order dt 22 Aug 2016 in WP(C) 9299/2016 titled Rajnandinee P. Mane Versus State of Maharashtra and Ors.  WP(C) 9556/2016 titled Rutuja D. Raut Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. 
Here is the brief coverage by Times of India of this specific case.

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