CHENNAI: Even as multiple judgments from various High Courts and Supreme Court have granted aspirants with disabilities, admission in MBBS courses through NEET, and directed the Medical Council of India (MCI) to adopt non-discriminatory regulations in the process, the National Testing Agency has opened registrations for NEET 2019, before the new guidelines are notified.
As online application for NEET opened on Thursday, disability rights activists alleged that the process is discriminatory as National Testing Agency (NTA)’s online brochure still has old guidelines given by MCI, which prevent many aspirants from pursuing MBBS. A senior MCI official told Express that the new guidelines will be uploaded in a week’s time.
While aspirants have started filing their online NEET forms, Satendra Singh, founder, Doctors with Disabilities: Agents of Change, said the new guidelines, that will enable Persons with Disabilities (PwD) to pursue MBBS, have not been notified by MCI. “All eligible candidates can apply from Thursday, but candidates with disabilities are at a disadvantage because of the incomplete information given in NEET (UG) 2019 as well as MoHFW, MCI and MCC websites,” he said.
The brochure states that five per cent of annual sanctioned intake shall be filled by candidates, “falling under Persons with Bench Mark disabilities as per MCI Guidelines/ Regulations in accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.” The brochure further adds that candidates should consult the website of MCC (www.mcc.nic.in) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (www.mohfw.nic.in) for latest information.
However, the MCC website still shows the old MCI guidelines for candidates with disabilities. The Supreme Court as well as High Courts in Delhi, and Punjab and Haryana allowed many candidates with disabilities to pursue MBBS in 2018 rejecting the old guidelines by MCI. “Seven of my clients were allowed to pursue MBBS after I battled it out in court. However, the judgment given by the apex court does not reflect in the brochure for NEET.
Although the application process has started, the NTA has not specified the guidelines defining benchmark disability. Students are being forced to agree to the guidelines they are not even aware of,” said Jeetendra Gupta, an advocate, adding that the new amended guidelines should have been added to NEET brochure before the application process started. “If the government does not take speedy action, more eligible students will lose opportunity to practise medicine,” he said. Singh said the online brochure still contains only Disability Assessment Boards, constituted in the four metro cities.
Sanjay Shrivastava, Secretary- General of Board of Governors of Medical Education said the board had already prepared the new guidelines and was awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The guidelines will be notified once it is approved, he said. The government had recently dissolved the MCIand replaced it with a Board of governors by bringing in an ordinance.