The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to take a policy decision on a representation to fill up the vacant seats reserved in medical colleges for those suffering from “benchmark disability” by taking in candidates who fall short of the threshold but are persons with disabilities (PWD).
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma also asked the Centre to respond to a petition filed by an MBBS aspirant having less than benchmark disability who sought admission in a medical college against one of the unfilled seats reserved for PWD.
The petitioner, who has a permanent locomotor disability, scored 96.06 percentile in NEET-UG 2022 and was found to be short of the 40 per cent threshold prescribed for a benchmark disability – a precondition for claiming reservation in education.
The petitioner said it will be unfair to grant a seat earmarked for candidates with benchmark disabilities to a candidate without any disability by converting them into general category seats.
“UOI (Centre) will certainly look into the representation by the petitioner and shall be free to take a policy decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.
The court asked the centre to state its stand on the representation while filing its reply.
It also sought the response of the National Testing Agency and National Medical Commission to the plea.
The court said it was a “genuine petition” and took on record its appreciation for the petitioner’s counsel Rahul Bajaj, who is visually challenged, and asked its registry to provide documents to the lawyer in a format accessible to him.
“Registry of this court is directed to furnish copies of all documents in accessible format to the counsel for the petitioner for enabling him to go through them and argue the matter,” the court ordered.
Besides seeking allotment of a seat to her under the PWD category in the NEET-UG 2022, the petitioner assailed legal provisions restricting the benefit of reservation to persons with benchmark disabilities alone.
The petitioner said a cut-off must not be arbitrarily determined and enforced in a way that leaves candidates who do not meet the cut-off completely high and dry, especially in favour of candidates with no disability at all.
The matter will be heard next on April 13.