A 17-year-old visually challenged girl, who was denied admission to a physiotherapy course because of her disability, can attend lectures until her petition is decided, the Bombay High Court ruled on Tuesday.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari froze a seat for the girl at Seth GS Medical College (KEM Hospital), Parel, and directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit explaining its stand on the issue of admitting disabled people to professional courses.
Kritika Purohit, a student of Ruparel College at Matunga, had applied to the four-year Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPTh) course. The Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), however, refused her admission because of her disability.
"…Blind students cannot do practicals proposed as per the health course [sic]," read a letter the Medical Education and Drugs Department sent to Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged in February 2010. The Centre is a co-petitioner in the case.
"…Every person who has completed physiotherapy course must diagnose and treat patients…with the help of physiotherapy instruments…it is impossible for a blind person to handle such instruments and treat the patient."
Purohit's lawyers, Jamshed Mistry and Kanchan Pamnani, argued that the DMER was not justified in refusing her admission. Mistry said the admission process is nearing completion and lectures are to begin in August.
"If Purohit is not allowed to attend lectures, despite freezing the seat, it will not help her," Mistry said.
Purohit is one of the first visually challenged students in the state to get admitted to the science stream after scoring 82 per cent in her Class 10 exams.
Purohit had moved the high court earlier this year after she was informed that she was not eligible to appear for the state common entrance test because her disability meant she was disqualified.
The HC had in April asked the DMER to allow her to appear for the entrance exam, which she passed with the 24th rank in the reserved category.