Kritika Purohit and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors,
W.P. 979/2010, Bombay High Court.
The petitioner was a visually impaired student who sought admission to the course in Bachelor of Physiotherapy but was not permitted to apply for the same. The petitioner contended that although the post of a physiotherapist was considered to be suitable for blind persons, the denial of courses in physiotherapy for blind persons ran counter to Section 39 of the PWD Act and that the respondents were obliged to make all accommodations for the Petitioner in conformity with Article 24(2) of the CRPD.
The respondents contended that it was not practical for the petitioner to be involved in the course. However, the court also noted the petitioner’s reliance on the circular of the Mumbai University in mandating that resources should be made available to visually impaired student to allow them to complete their courses. In view of these materials, the court observed that the respondents had shown a negative attitude towards persons with disabilities and “have not cared to consider the object underlying the provisions of Disabilities Act, 1995”. Therefore, by an interim order dated 2 August 2010, it directed the Commissioner of Disabilities to consider all the materials and make suitable instructions to the respondents for making necessary arrangements for admission of visually challenged students. It also directed that the petitioner should be provisionally admitted for the course and should be provided with resources for translation of the material to braille.
Subsequently the court found that the petitioner had completed the first exam and had secured 62 per cent in the same. Therefore, it held that she should be allowed to be admitted and complete the course. However, the court noted that the state government had accepted the guidelines of the Maharashtra State Council for Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy that visually impaired candidates are not fit for the physiotherapy course. On this, it noted the contentions of the Petitioner and also Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged who claimed that a physiotherapist is not required to perform all the functions of physiotherapy and visually impaired physiotherapists can perform all functions with assistance if necessary. They also pointed out various physiotherapists who were working in Maharasthra successfully for many years. The court held that “We are, therefore, of the view that the stand of the respondent authorities is clearly discriminatory and adversely affects the Right to Life and equal opportunities of the petitioner as also other such students similarly situated. The fact that petitioner though being visually impaired not only passed her first year examination with 62% marks and is successfully studying in 2nd year, and several visually impaired persons have been working as professional physiotherapists in India as well as abroad appeals to us not to allow the petitioner as also others in the same position to be discriminated against or disqualified on that ground.”
Thus, the court stayed the decision of the state government and directed the respondents to consider candidates with visual disability for admission to the course in physiotherapy.