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Madras High Court directs implementation of 3% job quota for disabled people, activists unhappy

Recently, the Madras High Court ordered that all public sectors must implement 3% reservation for disabled people as soon as possible. The order was directed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary who has to issue a circular within two months' time to all departments of the state government.

The move has made disability rights groups unhappy. They say that the RPWD Act 2016 clearly states that 4% quota be marked for disabled people in all sectors and this finds no reflection in the court order.

Professor TNM Deepak, President, 3 December Movement, teaches at the Loyola College in Chennai and had filed a case in the High Court to ensure that the 4% quota is implemented in all government sectors without any hassles. He said the state government has even formed a committee to look into such matters but nothing has translated into action.

This 3% quota is mentioned in the old disabilities act. The new one clearly states 4% quota. Also, this percentage of jobs is identified as performable jobs for disabled people. So, the government has to first find performable jobs for disabled people in all sectors. Will the government really do that? In fact, most jobs do not even consider disabled people. For example, police jobs are almost impossible to get because they come up with numerous criterions and even excuses so that disabled people are not be hired. Firstly, let government identify performable jobs for disabled people. -TNM Deepak, President, 3 December Movement

The latest order was passed after a writ petition was filed by S Gopikrishnan requesting the court to direct a Coimbatore school to implement the quota in hiring their staff. Gopikrishnan, who has a 50% disability, applied for a post on February 2010 and the court directed the school to hire Gopikrishnan without affecting the positions of people who have already been hired.

Smitha Sadasivam, Member of Disability Rights Alliance, says the court was wrong to disregard the RPWD Act provisions. "I wonder why the learned court had not taken the current disability act into account. It will be appropriate only if the Chief Secretary issues a circular to all departments to implement a 4% reservation to persons with disabilities. Most importantly, the disability sector is not for identification of jobs and that is the bigger fight", says Sadasivam.

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