Coronavirus-news May 10, 2020
Top Chandigarh medical institute issues revised order exempting disabled employees from emergency duties
Following the intervention of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, has issued a revised order taking cognisance of the guidelines exempting employees with disabilities from emergency duties.
All Deans/Sub-Deans/Medical Superintendent/Heads of Departments/other controlling authorities are requested to keep in mind the guidelines for protection and safety of persons with disability (Divyangjan) while drawing up roster of staff who are required to attend essential services.
This revised order, coming less than 48 hours after the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, was pulled up by disability rights groups for violating the exemptions granted to disabled employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Change in PIGMER stance after DEPwD intervention
The change in stance followed an intervention by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD). The revised order takes cognisance of the guidelines issued by the DEPwD as well as the Department of Personnel Training (DoPT)’s order.
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), which had sought DEPwD Director KVS Rao’s intervention, welcomed the announcement but said it was not explicit in nature.
“It talks about “protection and safety” only, while the orders are clear about exemption. This is subject to interpretation depending on the official. It is not unambiguous”, said NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan Vishwanath to NewzHook.
Revised order ‘ambiguous’
In a statement, the NPRD says that the orders have to be spelt out unambiguously to ensure they are not “subjectively interpreted”.
The revised order issued by the PGIMER is not explicit that the period for which disabled employees are exempted from work would be deemed to be “Special Leave”. We hope we would not have to seek the department’s intervention again in the matter. – Muralidharan Vishwanath, General Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
These are not one-off instances as the NPRD letter makes clear. Take the State Bank of India. While granting exemptions to employees with disabilities, it had underlined that they would be deemed to have availed of “sick leave”. In cases of employees who not have sick leave, it was to be considered as “leave without pay”.
It was only after the DEPwD’s intervention following an NPRD petition that an order was issued to the Director of Financial Services to instruct all banks and financial services to implement the DoPT order granting exemption to all disabled employees under “Special Leave without loss of pay”.
Earlier another top medical institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, was found violating the order pertaining to disabled employees. Clearly a sad state of affairs that even a central government order is so blatantly twisted and manipulated by its own departments.