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No IIT degree for learning-disabled student as HC refuses to grant relief

A learning disability or a mental disorder cannot be termed a physical disability, the Bombay High Court said while refusing to direct the IIT Bombay to give a formal degree to a girl student suffering from dyscalculia, although she has completed a masters course.

Dyscalculia is severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations as a result of a brain disorder.

A division bench of justices M S Sanklecha and A K Menon earlier this week rejected the petition filed by the student in 2012.

In her petition, the student had claimed that she was suffering from dyscalculia, which is a learning disability, and falls under the category of physical disability.

However, the IIT Bombay had refused to grant her admission to the Master of Design program on the ground that she had not specified in her application form that she was suffering from any physical disability. It had said that a learning disability was not a physical disability.

When the petition was filed, the court had asked the IIT to admit the girl as an interim relief, but had said the admission would be subject to the final orders of the court.

According to the interim order, the girl appeared for the three-year course and passed, but the institute had not conferred the degree on her.

However, the court in its order passed earlier this week, said that although the petitioner may be entitled to be declared successful in the course, no further relief can be granted to her declaring her as having passed the IIT course.

“The petitioner’s argument that dyscalculia amounts to physical disability cannot be accepted. Dyscalculia is a disability that affects the mental process,” the court said.

“To suggest that the petitioner suffered from mental retardation so as to fit into the category of physical disability would be an extremely unfair and inappropriate conclusion, since in our view mental retardation clearly indicates incomplete development of mind, which is not necessarily sub-normality of intelligence,” the bench said.

It added that at the most dyscalculia, which the petitioner claims she is suffering from, can be termed as a “disorder”, which large number of people are suffering from.

The court also took note of a medical opinion letter submitted by the petitioner in support of her case and said the letter only said that the petitioner was suffering from a learning disability.

“Physical and neurological assessment is certified to be normal. Vision and hearing were also normal. The physical and neurological assessments are both seen to be normal. In this view of the matter, we do not see how the petitioner could take advantage of the physical disability option,” it said.

The petitioner had applied to the course in 2012 and moved the court the same year after she was refused admission.

She had appeared for the entrance test and scored 50 per cent. The institute refused admission claiming for general category, under which the petitioner has applied, the qualifying percentage was 64.

For students suffering from physical disability, the cut-off percentage was 32. The petitioner later claimed she too would fall under this category and hence should be admitted.

The petitioner first approached the institute stating that a learning disability should also be considered under the Physical Disability category.

The IIT, however, said physical disability was applicable only in cases of loco motor and cerebral palsy, visual impediments, speech and hearing impediments.

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