23 June: Candidate cleared the NEET exam
06 July: Name included in PwD Category
16 July: Status of the candidate changed from the general category to PwD category
23 July: Participated in the first round of counseling
12 Aug: Participated in the second round of counseling (Still, his name did not appear)
18 Aug: SC granted MBBS admission to Sruchi Rathore, a similarly placed candidate with thalassemia, without subjecting to counseling
26 Aug: Petition filed in Delhi High Court
27 Aug: Participated in the third round of counseling (Mop Up round)
31 Aug: Last date of counseling as per SC order
19 Sept: Judgment delivered to grant him MBBS seat in any of the three colleges of IP Univ.
TOI News dated 24 Oct 2017
NEW DELHI: For an 18-year-old suffering from thalassaemia, a September 19 Delhi high court judgment was no less than a blessing. After all, his struggle to secure admission to an MBBS course in any of the three colleges of Indraprashta University had finally been given legal sanctity.
But to his shock, the university chose to challenge the order before a larger bench. The student's father says the struggle is far from over even though his son's medical condition has been recognised under a law that safeguards the rights of disabled people.
The law he is referring to here is the newly notified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which now includes 21 disabilities (including thalassaemia) as opposed to seven in the earlier Act. The new law, which has also increased the reservation of seats for people with disability from 3% to 5%, was notified on April 19, 2017.
In March 2017, the student had applied for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) under the general category. On realising that the new Act including the blood disorder as a disability had been notified, the student made a representation to change his category from general to people with disabilities (PwD) before the university on July 5 — after his NEET result was out.
He sat for two consecutive counselling sessions — on July 23 and August 12. "If he had not made it in the first round itself, why was he allowed to sit for a second round of counselling?" he asks.
HC judge Indermeet Kaur, had in the judgment, recorded that IP University's argument — that on August 9, 2017, it had notified that all seats that had remained vacant in the PwD or physically handicapped category were reverted to the parent category — did not hold water. "The status of the PWD/PH category had not changed. The additional affidavit of respondent No. 1 (IP University) reflecting the status of seats in their medical colleges on August 12 reflected no category of PWD/PH. Why and how was the petitioner permitted participation in this counselling when there was no such category available with them, is not answered," the judgment states.
And despite his win before the single judge, the youngster is now anxious about the division bench's judgment slated to come out on November 9.
As a disability rights activist points out, this is the first case from Delhi where a thalassaemic is trying to secure admission to an MBBS course under the disability quota. "It can set a precedent, if he is given admission," says Dr Satendra Singh, a doctor with disability at University College of Medical Sciences and a disability rights activist .
Singh claims none of the MCI committees have doctors with disabilities. "I have myself petitioned the ministry of social justice and empowerment regarding this. One of the past secretaries of department of empowerment of PwD was a medical doctor, but there has been no action. The MCI's outdated curriculum treats disability as a purely medical issue, instead of a human rights issue," he asserts.
The student's father, on the other hand, believes that if aspiring medical practitioners like his son are encouraged, they could treat patients with similar disorders in a better manner as they recognise the same hardships.
While the IP university's joint registrar Dr Nitin Malik chose to not comment on the issue, saying it was sub-judice, MCI joint secretary Dr Rajendra Wabale referred to the process of regulation of admissions under the PwD category, saying a disability committee was set up and was scheduled to submit a related report before an executive committee on Wednesday.
"The report will then go to the general body," he said, suggesting that only then a decision on such admissions would be taken. Wabale, however, chose not to comment on the student's case, saying it was sub-judice.