The Bombay high court on Thursday ordered the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to consider a 17-year-old Pune resident with a prosthetic leg eligible for admission to an MBBS course.
Viraj Salvi, whose right leg had to be amputated after a drunk driver crashed into him six years ago, had been declared ineligible for any medical course by DMER after a special medical board pegged his disability at 85%. The ‘disability range’ laid down by the Medical Council of India (MCI) is 50-70%. This means that a person whose disability is rated lower than 50% is not eligible for admission under the disabled category, while a person whose disability exceeds 70% is completely ineligible for medical courses.
However, chief justice Mohit Shah and justice AK Menon overruled this and said Salvi was eligible for the course as he uses a prosthetic leg and participates in outdoor sports regularly.
Salvi’s lawyer Pooja Throat said he lost his right leg in August 2009. While on his way home from school, a speeding drunk driver rammed into him, crushing his leg between the car and a wall. Despite this, Thorat said, Salvi regularly represented his school at cricket and also took part in a cycling rally from Bangalore to Hyderabad, covering distance of 560 km. She said that with bionics and prosthetics, disabled people can lead normal lives, and that there are a number of renowned doctors who are physically disabled; some even wheelchair-bound.
“There can be no better example than this,” Thorat said, urging the court to take into consideration Salvi’s prosthetic leg – equipped with a hydraulic knee joint and an ‘energy restoring foot’ – which allows him to be independent and even participate in outdoor sports.
Salvi, who scored 77% in his HSC exams this year, applied for the common entrance test for medical courses under the physically disabled category, for which 3% of seats are reserved. Officials referred him to a special medical board at BJ Medical College, which declared him 85% disabled and therefore ineligible for admission to medical courses under MCI guidelines.