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Can Color Blindness debar from Admission to Medical College?

Parmesh Pachar appeared in the Rajasthan PMT 2001 and on being declared successful, was allotted a seat in the BDS Course in the first instance and subsequently, in the second counseling, he was offered a seat in the MBBS Course in the Mahatma Gandhi National Institute of Medical Sciences, Jaipur. Parmesh deposited his fees, was allotted a hostel room and started his studies but subsequently on the basis of a medical examination conducted prior to his admission, he was declared medically unfit inasmuch as he could not recognize the red and green colors on the Edridge-Green lantern test and on this account his admission was cancelled.

After all representations to the authorities failed, a D.B. Writ Petition (PIL) No. 5438/2001 in the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench against the Convener, Central Undergraduate Admission board, Jaipur was filed, and subsequently the Medical Council of India was also made a party to the case.

The Court on the basis of some illuminating remarks made in the Delhi High court case Dr Kunal Kumar V. Union of India & Others (CW No 4608/2002) observed that a person suffering from color vision deficiency is not completely blind to red and green colors but may have some trouble differentiating between certain colors.

Besides, some 30 letters/e-mails received from various prominent foreign universities and medical colleges where students suffering from color vision deficiency are not debarred from admission to medical courses was also presented to the court. These included the Dalhousie, McGill, Stanford universities from Canada; Edinburgh, London. Glasgow, Liverpool, Dundee and Bristol universities from the U.K.; Sydney, James Cook, Tasmania, Melbourne and the University of Western Australia from Australia; Washington, Albany, Columbia, Indiana, Virginia, New York and Missouri universities from the USA; and the University of Szeged from Hungary.

Secondly, the degrees awarded by most of these universities are duly recognized in India as per second schedule to the Medical Council of India Act, 1956. The court, therefore, remarked: "It is queer logic that while a color blind student can seek admission in the aforesaid foreign universities, he cannot seek admission in the home university. In case he qualifies in the Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery in spite of his color vision deficiency, his qualification will be recognized in India just because he has the stamp of a foreign university. The deficiency, which is considered to be a handicap for purposes of grant of admission in a home university, no longer remains a debarring factor. This hypocritical policy has no logic and relevancy."

Moreover, the Court noted that there is no condition in the admission rules or the regulations of the Medical Council of India debarring a candidate suffering from color blindness from his admission to the medical course.

The Court, on these grounds, therefore, allowed the writ petition and directed the respondent to grant admission to the petitioner from the next session.

(DB Writ Petition (PIL) No 5438/2001 Parmesh Pachar V. Convener, Central Undergraduate Admission board, Jaipur. The judgement was delivered on 10th April, 2003 by doublebench of Rajasthan High court, Jaipur Bench).

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