Press Trust of India|Oct 23, 2021
NEET 2019: No revised admission guidelines for disabled candidates leads to discrimination
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 23: The National Testing Agency (NTA), exam conducting body for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), released the application form and an official brochure for the medical entrance on November 1, bringing clouds of uncertainty hanging over PwD aspirants. The brochure neither specifies the amended laws introduced by the various courts nor updated information in Right to Persons with Disabilities Act.
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As per the information brochure, ‘5% of the annual sanctioned intake shall be filled by candidates falling under Persons with Benchmark disabilities as per MCI Guidelines/Regulations in accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.’
For the latest information, it is required of candidates to refer the websites of the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Now, the problem arises as the websites of these bodies does not reflect the updated information especially with respect to students who have learning disabilities, hearing impairments, blood disorder related disabilities and low vision.
Disability does not mean inability
The Supreme Court and various high courts have pointed out the regulations of the Medical Council of India as discriminatory and are abhorrent to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and to provisions of the said Act.
In case of learning disability, the High Court of Delhi, in its August 29 order, allowed such students to take admission to MBBS courses last year since they fall in the category of 21 disabilities of Right to Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. However, the annexure available on the website of MCC shows that candidates with the learning disabilities are not allowed for PwD quota on the grounds that there is lack of the objective method to establish presence and extent of mental illness.
The students with low vision were also allowed to pursue MBBS and avail PwD quota with Supreme Court passing an order on August 24. Earlier MCI regulations, which are still not updated in the annexure, disqualifies students with visual disability of 40% or more claiming they are not fit to pursue the course.
Activists demanding clarification
In this regard, Dr. Satendra Singh, the founder of Doctors with Disabilities: Agents to change, wrote a letter to the NTA officials, MCI Board of Governors (BoG), MCC, MoHFW and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) mentioning about the lack of information on the official websites and the modified guidelines need to be updated and approved by the Ministry and MCI BoG.
Also, it has been requested by Dr Singh to cease the application process until there is no clarity about the MCI guidelines. As per the reports, Singh found NTA being prejudicial with the PwD candidates by starting the NEET application form without any clarity of updated guidelines. Even the brochure contains the name of the same four metro cities for medical assessment, which were increased to nine after the intervention of the court.
New guidelines prepared
As per the sources, Sanjay Shrivastava, Secretary, General of Board of Governors of Medical Education, said the MCI BoG has prepared new guidelines for PwD category candidates and are waiting for the approval from the MoHFW. These PwD guidelines will be notified once it will be approved by the ministry.
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