Blind candidate's nomination for Tamil Nadu cooperative society elections rejected due to disability

The nomination of a blind candidate, P Saravanan, for the cooperative society elections in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, has been rejected by the returning officer. The officer said this was because the candidate ’could not read or write’, as required under the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Societies Act.

The rejection of the nomination comes a week after the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of the Differently-Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) staged protests demanding that blind people be given the right to contest the cooperative society elections.

After the protests, the Tamil Nadu State Cooperative Societies Election Commission, issued a circular, which said that,

Election officers shall not refuse to collect the nomination papers, when a disabled person was filing it, on the grounds of their disability - M. Rajendran, Commissioner, Tamil Nadu State Cooperative Societies Election Commission

The circular does not strictly forbid rejection of nomination on ground of disability.

When P Saravanan asked why his nomination was rejected, he was told it was because he had given a thumb impression in place of a signature. The decision was not changed even after Saravanan said that it was difficult for him to sign as he was blind.

Saravanan’s nomination for the 2013 the cooperatives elections was also rejected. This time, TARATDAC had hoped that the RPWD 2016 would change things.

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