SC Says Student Suffering From Benchmark Disability Should Be Admitted to MBBS Course

She was denied admission on the ground that she has a speech and language impairment of 55%.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala on April 17 (the order was uploaded on April 23), in exercise of the court’s jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution, directed that petitioner-student Vibhushita Sharma, who was earlier denied admission to the MBBS course, be admitted to the Kalpana Chawla Medical College, Karnal, Haryana under the quota earmarked for persons with disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

The college had initially granted her admission for academic year 2023-24 in the session which shall commence from August 2023. Later, after a test that to quantify the percentage of disability, this admission had been cancelled.

“The petitioner will commence her course of studies for the first year of the MBBS Degree Course,” the order issued by the bench reads.

The petitioner-student, who suffers from a benchmark disability, was denied admission by the same college to the MBBS Degree course on the ground that she has a speech and language impairment of 55%.

In her petition, she had challenged the 2019 Amendment to the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 to the extent it precludes candidates with speech and language benchmark disability (quantified at 40% or above) from availing reservation and taking admission in MBBS courses.

She has contended in her petition that the impugned regulation takes away the statutory right of a person with benchmark disability who is, in essence, prohibited from pursuing a medical course. She was diagnosed with a permanent disability of ‘Cleft Lip Palate Repair’, a speech and language disability, quantified at 55%.

Also read: Law Schools in India Must Pay More Attention to Disability Legislation

The petitioner argued that the determination of disability set out as cut-off was without any scientific basis and was thus arbitrary, and discriminatory.

By an order dated February 10, 2023, the Supreme Court observed that before embarking upon the legal issue involved, it would be appropriate to examine whether a solution could be found in a manner which would subserve the interest of justice.

By the interim order, the court directed that the petitioner might be examined by the Medical Board at PGI, Chandigarh to assess her fitness to pursue the MBBS degree course.

Also read: Poorly Worded Ads, Apathy Are Depriving Doctors With Disabilities of Job Opportunities

On April 17, the bench recorded that the Medical Board’s report indicates that she is in a position to pursue the MBBS Degree course. Before arriving at this conclusion, the Medical Board has carried out a thorough assessment of the medical condition of the petitioner.

The bench observed that since the dispute has been resolved without the court being required to enquire into the issues of law involved, all issues of law are kept open to be adjudicated upon in an appropriate case.

The bench, therefore, disposed of her writ petition.