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 Satender Singh, a doctor with disability at University College of Medical Sciences and a disability rights activist .