The Bombay high court. (HT File Photo)
The Bombay high court. (HT File Photo)

Bombay HC refuses to interfere in physical criteria for medical admission

  • The petitioner had moved the high court in January this year after she was declared ineligible for admission to an undergraduate medical course as her left hand was amputated.
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:56 PM IST

The Bombay high court has refused to interfere with the eligibility requirement of intact upper limbs for admission to undergraduate medical courses, observing that it was not open for the high court to test validity of the statutory rule based on expert opinion.

In administrative or quasi judicial matters, it may be open to questioning an expert opinion, but when it comes to legislative exercise, it would be practically impossible to question the wisdom of any legislation based on an expert opinion, said a bench of justice SC Gupte and justice Surendra Tavade.

"It is not open in such a case to examine the material before the experts and assessment of such materials made by experts to form their opinion, on the basis of which the particular law is framed," the bench added and rejected a petition filed by a medical aspirant from Pune district.

The order of February 8 was uploaded on the high court’s website February 24.

Anita Shinde, the petitioner, had moved HC in January this year after she was declared ineligible for admission to an undergraduate medical course as her left hand was amputated. She challenged the validity of a clause of the Medical Council of India's “Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997."

The clause required “both hands intact, with intact sensation, sufficient strength and range of motion" for the persons with locomotor disabilities to be eligible for undergraduate medical courses.

The petitioner claimed he was wrongfully denied admission to a medical course for despite the disability, a person like her can perform all five roles that MCI wants Indian medical graduates to perform - clinician, leader and member of a healthcare team, communicator, lifelong learner and a professional.

Her counsel, advocate Gaurav Bansal, relied on several extracts and national and international opinions submitted that the petitioner had the capacity and ability to undergo and successfully complete the under-graduate medical course. Bansal had added that undergraduate medical courses do not involve any surgery and hence, there was no rationale behind denying admission to a person with disability such as the petitioner.

The submission, however, failed to impress the bench.

"Medical Council is a body of experts and there is no gainsaying that this particular stipulation is based on its expert opinion," said the court. "It is not open, for the reasons stated above, for this court to question the legislative wisdom of the Council or to question the expert opinion, on which its legislation is based," it added.

The high court also rejected the argument that denial of admission to the petitioner on account of her disability amounted to discrimination, prohibited both under Section 3 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

The court, however, said sub-section (3) of Section 3 itself recognises the permissibility of an act of discrimination as proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. As regards Article 19(1)(g), the bench said the fundamental right to practice a profession, or to carry on an occupation of one's choice, is also subject to reasonable restrictions and prescribing eligibility criteria for enrolling for a degree course do come within these permissible restrictions."

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