Showing posts with label Doctors with Disabilities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doctors with Disabilities. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Supreme Court of India wants an Expert Panel To Determine What Areas of Medical Practice Can Colour-blind MBBS Aspirants Study based on international best practices [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

In a progressive order, the Hon'ble Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar has directed the Medical Council of India to constitute a committee of experts to look into the areas of practice that MBBS aspirants with colour blindness could indulge in. 

The bench passed these orders while hearing a Civil Appeal No. 4394 of 2017 (arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.30772 of 2015), filed by two MBBS aspirants, who were declared ineligible for admissions at the stage of counseling in 2015, as they had partial colour blindness. 

The petitioners had challenged the decision of the committee that refused them admission because of their colour-blindness before the High Court of Tripura and  Agartala, contending that there existed no regulation framed by the Medical Council of India, under the Medical Council Act, 1956, debarring them from seeking admission. The high court had, however, refused to interfere, and had dismissed their petition. 

Before the Hon'ble SC, the petitioner's counsel contended that it was “obligatory” on the part of the Medical Council of India to take a “progressive measure so that an individual suffering from CVD may not feel like an alien to the concept of equality, which is the fon juris of our Constitution”. Amicus Curiae Mr. Viswanathan urged that a complete ban on the admission of individuals suffering from CVD to MBBS course would violate conferment of equal opportunities and fair treatment. To buttress this submission, he had made reference to provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, to which India is a signatory. 

The Amicus Curiae Mr. Viswanathan had urged that as colour blindness is not considered as a disability under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 nor it is a disability under the recently notified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, the nature and severity of colour blindness and the disciplines they can practise has to be given a re-look.

The defendants, on the other hand, had submitted that since the complete diagnosis and prognosis of a disease or disorder may depend upon colour detection, there is requirement for restriction in the field of practice of an individual with colour blindness in this country.

Considering rival submissions, the court made reference to a judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of Dr Kunal Kumar v Union of India and others, and also to a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court in Parmesh Pachar Vs. Convener, Central Undergradutate Admission Board. While the Delhi HC had concurred with the view that people with colour blindness may not be able to pursue certain courses or disciplines, the Rajasthan HC had opined that students suffering from disabilities cannot be debarred from seeking admissions..

The apex court, however, wished neither to lean in favour of the view of Delhi High Court nor generally accept the perception of Rajasthan High Court. It, thus, directed an assessment by an independent expert committee, and observed, “Total exclusion for admission to medical courses without any stipulation in which they really can practice and render assistance would tantamount to regressive thinking. The march of science, apart from our constitutional warrant and  values, commands inclusion and not exclusion. That is the way a believer in human rights should think”.

The bench directed that 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. It further said the committee shall include representatives of the Medical Council of India, and experts from genetics, ophthalmology, psychiatry and medical  education, who shall be from outside the members of the Medical Council of India. It has been directed to submit a report to the court within three months. The matter has been listed for July 11.

Writing the order the court expressed, "Human being is a magnificent creation of the Creator and that magnificence should be exposed in a humane, magnanimous and all-inclusive manner so that all tend to feel that they have their deserved space. Total exclusion for admission to medical courses without any stipulation in which they really can practise and render assistance would tantamount to regressive thinking. When we conceive of global phenomenon and universal brotherhood, efforts are to be made to be within the said parameters. The march of science, apart from our constitutional warrant and values, commands inclusion and not exclusion. That is the way a believer in human rights should think.

The bench has directed the Committee of Experts to submit a report to the court within three months, while fixing the next listing on 11 July 2017.

Click here to access the judgement dated 23 Mar 2017 in Civil Appeal No. 4394 of 2017 (arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.30772 of 2015) titled Pranay Kumar Podder Vs. State of Tripura and Others. [PDF size 151 KB Opens in google drive]

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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A person with 71% physical disability can't study Medicine - says MCI's resolution!

Dear Colleagues,

The resolution of Medical Council of India  that the disability must be between 40 per cent and 70 per cent to be eligible for admission and for seeking a seat reserved for candidates with physical disability itself is faulty. The degree of disability is a medical model and can not be a conclusive reason to declare what a person with disabilities can do or not do. Then we have highly subjective disability evaluation system wherein two different doctors give different grading of disability to the same person. A person with 71% will thus be technically outrightly rejected for the wrong assessment due to subjectivities involved.

Hon'ble High Court may have given the benefit to the petitioner in the instant case, however, technically even the bench is not competent to decide on the degree of disability, unless doubting the State Medical Board's assessment, it ordered for re-constitution of Medical Board which gave an otherwise recommendation on it. 

At the most, the bench could have expressed its opinion on the discernible abilities of the petitioner observed by them and ordered accordingly. I feel, getting in to guess work of percentage of disabilities is like falling in to the trap of 40-70 percentage set out by the improper and unreasonable resolution of the MCI which is not supported by the disability legislation in the country. This classification has been created by MCI of its own which doesn't stand the test of law.

Here is the news coverage:

Reconsider admission of physically disabled student: HC

A special medical board set up by the state government had found the student unfit for health science courses and ineligible for a seat under the physically disabled quota as his disabilities stood at 88 per cent.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Published on:June 26, 2015 2:50 am

Noting the movements of a physically disabled student inside the courtroom, the Bombay High Court has directed the state government to consider his admission in the first of year MBBS course. The student was earlier denied admission under the physically handicapped quota.

“He (petitioner) has been walking with braces and having seen his physical movements in the court room, we are of the view that his disability cannot be assessed as 88 per cent. His case should be considered for admission to the first year MBBS course on the basis that his disability is between 50 per cent and 70 per cent ,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A K Menon.

Earlier, a special medical board set up by the state government had found the student unfit for health science courses and ineligible for a seat under the physically disabled quota as his disabilities stood at 88 per cent. While under the Medical Council of India resolution, the disability must be between 40 per cent and 70 per cent to be eligible for admission and for seeking a seat reserved for candidates with physical disability.

The HC, however, directed the state government to consider his case on the basis of his marks obtained by him in the common entrance, MH-CET, 2015, for admission to first MBBS course in a seat reserved for physically handicapped.

The student had sought admission to the first year MBBS course in the Government Medical College in a seat reserved for physically handicapped on the ground that his disability is between 50 percent and 70 percent.

He was born on March 18, 1996 and had been suffering from congenital disability involving both the lower limbs due to Bilateral Congenital Dislocation (CHD) of hip and Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (CTEV).
From 1996 to 2004, his father who is a doctor, provided him with treatment and care, including multiple surgeries and physiotherapy.

The boy underwent five surgeries on the deformities and the correction was carried out to the extent that there is no more dislocation of the hip joint.

There were, however, restrictions to the hip joint while doing physical activities of the lower limb. Pooja Thorat, the petitioner’s lawyer, informed the court that the special medical board has examined him without wearing braces. “He, infact, was wearing braces even while studying in school and was himself commuting from his residence to the school,” the lawyer had submitted.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mumbai High Court rules Doctors with disabilities can not be denied admission to PG Courses

Please refer to my earlier post in which the Bombay High Court had allowed admission of a disabled girl to the MBBS Course. However, it seems MCI doesn't want to be pro-active in considering disability from a human angle (doctors have been trained to look at disability from a medical angle... so it may not be their fault, its a systemic problem! :-)

However, MCI may learn from the increasing number of cases getting reprieve from the High Court on such issue and frame a disability friendly policy rather than a medically oriented "degree of disability" policy without any human touch and effort to see the ability in the disability !

Three disabled doctors get high court's reprieve

MUMBAI: Three disabled doctors who were denied the chance for admission to PG Medical Courses have got reprieve from Bombay High Court.  A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Ranjit More, in an interim order, directed authorities to consider their case for admission to a PG course in (medicine) or in a non-surgical branch. 

"(Their case would be considered) under physically handicapped category by considering (them) to be eligible for such reservation and on the basis of performance in the CET," said the judges. 

The petitions challenged the constitutional validity of the rules, which said that a candidate with more than 70% disability of the lower limbs cannot be considered to be eligible for admission. The lawyers for the petitioners said the MCI had erred in not considering that the medical courses can be divided into several categories. Dr Manoj Landge, Dr Rakesh Ukey and Dr Astha Ganeriwal were considered ineligible for admissions under this rule.