Monday, 30th October 2017

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Supreme Court: Only experts can decide on disability

Courts 'would not be justified' in adjudicating on opinion formed by a medical board, the bench ruled

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 10.10.19, 4:52 AM
  • Updated 10.10.19, 4:52 AM
  • a min read
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The bench passed the verdict while dismissing the appeal filed by Vidhi Himmat Katariya and two other physically challenged medical aspirants from Gujarat challenging a policy of the Medical Council of India (MCI) that bars certain category of disabled persons from pursuing the MBBS course. Shutterstock

The Supreme Court has ruled that courts “would not be justified” in adjudicating on opinion formed by a medical board on disallowing a physically challenged student from pursuing a medical course, saying that the expert body alone could determine such issues.

“It is required to be noted that in the present case all the expert bodies including the Medical Board, Medical Appellate Board (Gujarat) and even the Medical Board of AIIMS, New Delhi, consisting of experts, have opined against the petitioners and their cases are considered in light of the relevant essential eligibility criteria as mentioned in Appendix H — ‘both hands intact, with intact sensation, sufficient strength and range of motion’,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, M.R. Shah and Bhushan Gavai said.

“Therefore, when the experts in the field have opined against the petitioners, the court would not be justified in sitting over as an appellate authority against the opinion formed by the experts — in the present case, the Medical Board, Medical Appellate Board and the Medical Board of AIIMS, New Delhi, more particularly when there are no allegations of mala fides,” the apex court added.

The bench passed the verdict while dismissing the appeal filed by Vidhi Himmat Katariya and two other physically challenged medical aspirants from Gujarat challenging a policy of the Medical Council of India (MCI) that bars certain category of disabled persons from pursuing the MBBS course.

The candidates had sought admissions to various government medical colleges for the 2019 academic year under the 5 per cent quota for persons with disability. They had cleared the 2018 NEET.

Through an amendment to the Regulations of Graduate Medical Education, 1997, done on February 4 this year, Appendix H was added to stipulate that the benchmark disability was 40 per cent in order to be eligible for reservation.

However, it was further laid down that a person with disability must meet the minimum requirement of having “both hands intact, with intact sensation, sufficient strength and range of motion”. Such regulations were imposed in the larger interests of patients’ health and lives.

In the current case, the petitioners had been declared ineligible for the medical course by all the three forums — the medical board and the medical appellate board of Gujarat and the medical board of AIIMS, whose independent opinion had been sought.