It’s been a year since the Central government notified State governments that they should issue a driver’s license to people with monocular vision (single-eyed), subject to the fulfilment of certain medical and fitness conditions.
The order was based on the guidelines prescribed by experts at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital. Some conditions that candidates with sight in one eye must fulfil—have visual acuity in the one eye of 6/12, the same eye must have a horizontal visual field of 120ba, and after losing vision in one eye, a person has six months to adopt to utilising sight available only in the other.
States like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Union Territory of Puducherry implemented the Centre’s directive soon after the announcement, while others like Tamil Nadu weren’t very forthcoming.
In fact, according to this TNN report dated October 18, 2018, regional transport offices across Tamil Nadu were denying licenses for drivers with monocular vision.
This changed earlier this week, when 26-year-old NJ Shirabthinath, a person with monocular vision from the Palanganatham area in Madurai city, was issued a driving licence by the Madurai South RTO after he passed a driving test and fulfilled certain medical conditions.
According to TNN, he had lost his vision in one eye as a two-year-old following an accident and had always dreamed of driving a vehicle. His dream came true earlier this week.
Previously denied a driver’s license, it was a friend who brought the November 2017 Ministry of Road Transport notification to him. With this information on hand, they filed an RTI asking if the Centre’s order applied to Tamil Nadu. The reply stated that the order was indeed applicable in Tamil Nadu and RTO officers were expected to abide by them.
Before the issuance of the driver’s license, however, he was asked to pass the standard Goldmann perimetry/confrontation test and visual acuity test (candidate must have 6/12), reports TNN. These tests were conducted at the Department of Ophthalmology at the Government Rajaji Hospital.
However, it is important to note that Section 8 (4) of the Motor Vehicle Act says, “if the applicant is suffering from any disease or disability which is likely to cause the driving by him of a motor vehicle of the class which he would be authorised by the learner’s licence applied for to drive, to be a source of danger to the public or to the passengers, the licensing authority shall refuse to issue the learner’s licence.”
Most road accidents in India are a result of driver error, and thus it’s very important that RTOs are careful in issuing licenses to drivers with vision in only one eye. Yes, giving them the authority to drive is welcome, but RTOs must conduct their due diligence before issuing a licence to them.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)