NEET 2023: Court directs NMC, DGHS to include doctors with disabilities in framing PwD guidelines

None of the NMC committee or Wadhwa committee of AIIMS Delhi or Raipur has any professional with disability for examination of NEET-qualified PwD candidates.

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Delhi court has directed NMC to authorize the government medical colleges to conduct medical evaluations of PwD candidates for now. (Image: NMC website)Delhi court has directed NMC to authorize the government medical colleges to conduct medical evaluations of PwD candidates for now. (Image: NMC website)

Team Careers360 | May 2, 2023 | 06:40 PM IST

Sanjay and Anu Parthiban

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has ordered both the National Medical Commission (NMC) and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to include doctors with disabilities in committee framing guidelines for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Undergraduate (NEET UG) and Postgraduate (PG) applicants with disabilities.

While disposing of a complaint relating to double examination of the candidates who have successfully qualified NEET exam, the Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has recommended the respondents, NMC and DGHS, to increase the facilitation centers so that divyang candidates do not have to face "unnecessary problems" in evaluation during MBBS, BDS admissions.

The plea contented that all states and Union Territories (UTs) in India have government medical colleges and hospitals which are issuing UDIDs. "Each States or UTs should designate one such assessment board where there are doctors with disabilities which should be notified as disability screening centre," complainant had requested from the court.

The court has directed the apex medical education regulator to authorize the government medical colleges to conduct medical evaluations of candidates with disabilities till the time test centres for the medical evaluation of PwD candidates is not increased.

Also read | ‘Person, not anatomy’: How disabled MBBS students fight challenges in medical colleges

Explaining the reasons behind approaching the court, complainant Satendra Singh, professor of physiology at University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) New Delhi and a disability rights activist told Careers360,"Erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI) had created 16 'disability assessment centres across to conduct medical evaluations of candidates with disabilities. Despite having a permanent Unique Disability Identity Card (UDID) issued under the patronage of the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, ministry of social justice and empowerment, disabled candidates after clearing NEET UG and NEET PG are forced to go to these centers for multiple assessments."

The candidates from other reserved categories are not asked to appear multiple times to prove their marginalized categories, Singh said "but candidates with disabilities despite having the government approved UDID are asked to travel to different parts of the country to prove their disability again and again. This is humiliating for them and it was a kind of harassment of disabled students. None of these 'disability assessment centres' include doctors with disabilities or disability rights activist which has lead to multiple litigations against these centres,”

According to Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016 rules, involvement of persons with disabilities in general and doctors with disabilities in particular is needed in panels while framing the guidelines for disabled persons. "We apprised the same to court and now court has issued the order to NMC and DGHS to include doctors with disability in committee framing guidelines for PwD candidates," Singh said.

Singh further states that none of the NMC committee till now or the Wadhwa committee of AIIMS Delhi or the AIIMS Raipur has any health professional with disability in the committee for examination of the candidates with disability who have successfully qualified NEET exam and hence violating RPwD Act, 2016.

“This Court also recommends that as far as issues relating to problems faced by candidates during second evaluation, is the one raised by the complainant during online hearing, the respondent shall form an expert committee which shall comprise of medical practitioners, such committee shall also include doctor(s) who is a Person with Disability, to examine the various problems which arise and which are faced by the candidates during second time evaluation. The recommendations of this committee shall be shared with this Court,” the order by Upma Srivastava, chief commissioner for persons with disabilities. The order is dated April 5, 2023 and uploaded on its website recently.

Also read | 'Who knows, someday she may become an excellent doctor': Supreme Court on admission to disabled girl in MBBS

The Delhi HC had on April 13 sought the Centre’s reply to a plea for filling up vacant MBBS seats for PwD candidates. The petitioner having permanent locomotor disability scored 96.06 percentile in NEET UG 2022 and was found to be short of the 40% threshold prescribed for a benchmark disability; a precondition to claiming reservation in education, the PTI reported.

The MBBS aspirant had sought admission against the PwD seat and also assailed legal provisions restricting the benefit of reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities alone. The court will next hear the matter on July 17.

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