NEET 2019 application procedure: No clarity for aspirants with disabilities

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 28: The last date for applying to appear for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2019 is November 30, and the aspirants with disabilities are still in confusion whether to apply under the disabled quota or the general category. The reason is that the Medical Council of India (MCI) has yet not announced the modified guidelines for MBBS admissions under the disability quota.

Feedback on MCI guidelines to be submitted by November 30

The council has made its draft guidelines public on November 16 wherein it has invited feedback and suggestions by November 30, which is also the deadline for submitting the application form of NEET. Thus, the eligibility of candidates with disabilities will be finalised based on the draft guidelines of MCI that classifies certain conditions as ineligible in spite of the fact that high courts and the Supreme Court have ruled otherwise.

Doctors with Disabilities opposed MCI revised guidelines

It is expected that the last date to fill the NEET application form may get extended as Doctors with Disabilities, a pan-India body of doctors with disabilities, has written to MCI. It has also asked the council to allow such candidates to reconsider their application in case they have already registered.

“On the very day the online application process for NEET for 2019-20 through National Test Agency (NTA) began on November 1, we brought it to the notice of MCI Board of Governors, NTA, Ministry of Health and Welfare that the MCI guidelines were not updated and that candidates with disabilities are still in dark about it. If candidates apply under the disability quota and it turns out later that they are ineligible, they will miss a chance to sit for the entrance test. If they apply through the general quota, they then lose out the entitlement provided to them by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (RPDA),” Dr Satendra Singh, a member of Doctors with Disabilities and Associate Professor at University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, has been quoted as saying to a national daily.

Singh shared that neither the MCI nor MCI BoG has yet responded regarding the same. Due to this, the parents of the disabled candidates are worried as they are unsure if they should apply under the disabled quota or the general category.

NEET 2019 is scheduled to be held on May 5.

Doctors with Disabilities termed MCI draft guidelines as “unfair, discriminatory and unlawful”

The revised MCI draft guidelines for admission into MBBS courses under disability quota have been termed “unfair, discriminatory and unlawful” by the Doctors with Disabilities. It has also stated in the letter to the MCI that the guidelines given by the MCI related to the admissions of disabled candidates are also against the rulings of the Supreme Court and high courts.

“Persons with more than 80 per cent locomotor disabilities – cured leprosy, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims and others — may be allowed to take the test, but after their selection, their functional competency will be determined with the aid of assistive devices”, the draft MCI guidelines state.

The activists have responded by saying “fixing an upper limit to a disability is violative of the Rights of People with Disabilities Act as well as the Constitution”. They cited the example of Dr Suresh Advani, a hemato-oncologist and wheelchair user having 80 per cent disability, who is also a Padma Vibhushan and a BC Roy awardee. They have also mentioned in the letter the names of those signatories that have more than 80% disability but are successful doctors working in government institutions.

“40 per cent or more visually impaired (low vision and blindness) are not eligible for a medical course”, the draft MCI guidelines stated this as well.

Doctors with Disabilities are against this rule and they have mentioned that “new tools and technological innovations have opened doors for those with limited vision.”

It is also against another MCI guideline that states that “hearing impaired (deaf and hard of hearing) equal to or more than 40 per cent disability are not eligible.”