Mumbai: Laying criterion for medical course aspirants with disabilities doesn't infringe their fundamental rights, rules HC

Prescribing certain professional and technical criterion for medical course would not infringe a candidate's fundamental right to equality and the right to practice a profession or pursue a career, ruled the Bombay High Court recently. The HC ruling was pronounced while dismissing a girl's plea challenging the criterion for medical course.

A bench of Justices Suresh Gupte and Surendra Tavade said, "Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution provides for the citizens’ right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, is also subject to reasonable restrictions generally imposed by the state by making a law in the interests of the general public and particularly, by prescribing professional and technical qualifications necessary for any profession."

"Prescribing professional and technical qualification of a degree in medicine and eligibility criteria for enrolling for a degree course do come within these permissible restrictions," the judges held.

The judges were seized with a plea filed by an aspirant seeking admission for medical course. The girl had challenged the decision of the Medical Council of India (MCI) denying for medical course owing to her physical disability.

The girl's one hand was amputed and her physical disability was assessed at 60 per cent. However, as per the Graduate Medical Education Regulations (Amendment), 2019, the MCI denied her admission to any college.

The regulations of 2019, detailed the range of disability (per cent of disability) which is permissible for a medical aspirant to get an admission for the course.

The girl before the bench argued that she was assessed to be 60 per cent disable and as per the regulations up to 80 per cent disability candidates can be given admissions.

The MCI, however, cited a specific provision which states that both the hands of the candidate must be "intact."

Having heard the contentions, the bench noted, "One of the stipulations so far as locomotor physical disability is concerned is that in the case of a canditate with amputation, with a view to consider the particular range of disability for assessing eligibility to undertake medical course, both hands of the candidate must be intact."

"If the candidate is prevented from using either of his/her hands, there is no question of assessing the disability range with a view to see if s/he is fit for undertaking medical course," the judges said.

The judges further said that the regulations are for a legitimate aim to achieve excellence in the study and practice of medicine, which involves basics of surgery, commensurate with the rights of disabled persons to study and practice medicine.

"For achieving this aim, laying down of categories of disability and providing for different ranges within which individuals with disabilities shall be allowed access to medical education can surely be described as proportionate means to achieve that aim," the judges said while dismissing her plea.

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