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The Bombay high court has given relief to a medical degree course aspirant, who was declared unfit and ineligible for admission due to disability of upper limbs, despite the students third rank in the state merit list for physically handicapped category.
A high court division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice R P Sondur baldota ordered the directorate of medical education and research (DMER) on Wednesday to consider the student, Harshada Rane, as eligible and fit for admission through the physically handicapped category. Harshada, who secured 85.17% in the higher secondary certificate (HSC, Std. XII) exam, was ranked third in the state merit list for the physically handicapped (PH) category, released by the DMER on July 19. She was ranked first in Mumbai region for the same category. However, the Special Medical Board, which certifies the extent of physical disability to enable the DMER decide whether the candidate is fit or unfit for admission, had certified Harshadas disability as congenital anomaly of left and right hand. Her disability was assessed at 40%. The DMERs admission rules, which are based on guidelines issued on July 5, 2011, by the Medical Council of India (MCI), provide that the candidate should not have any disability of upper limbs considering the requirements of clinical examination, diagnosis and surgical procedures. However, disability of lower limbs is permissible with certain defined extents. Harshada challenged this provision in the high court by citing a decision of the Delhi high court in 1997 that put a question mark over the MCIs varying norms for candidates with disability of upper and lower limbs. Section 2 (o) of the Disabilities Act does not place any such embargo, the Delhi high court had ruled. The petitioner in that case, Raman Khanna, who had a disability of upper limbs, was admitted to MBBS course by a medical college, but when it came to the postgraduate (PG) studies, the authorities took a view that Khanna was not eligible for admission. The Delhi high court had ruled that Khanna successfully completed his MBBS course as well as internship and had applied for PG studies in community medicine for which, the court said, it was not possible to accept that he was not suitable for admission. In her case, Harshada demonstrated before the court that she has no disability of the right hand, but her disability was restricted to the left hand in terms of loss of middle finger and loss of the phalanx of the index finger and one phalanx of the third finger. Her lawyer, S N Deshpande, submitted that Harshadas disability was not such that she can be disqualified from pursuing medical course or from being considered for admission to medical college through the physically handicapped category. The bench has stated in its order, the petitioner stands third in the merit list of physically handicapped candidates in the entire state. If the candidates in the Category B (i.e. physically handicapped) are not admitted, the seats would go to the open merit list candidates. Having heard the counsels and having considered the petitioners disability, we are of the view that this is a fit case for admission of the petition and grant of mandatory interim relief.
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