Employment May 2, 2020
Ministry intervention sought in AIIMS Rishikesh director’s discriminatory order towards disabled people
Top disability rights organisations have written to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment seeking immediate intervention in connection with a blatantly discriminatory order issued by the office of the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh.
‘Any employee (including faculty), if unable to perform duties, due to Physical or mental disability, which interferes with efficient discharge of duties, will be compulsory retired, as per CCS rules’.
These are the words from an official order dated 9 April 2020 by Dr Ravi Kant, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh. The order, shared on the official WhatsApp group and on email, has been confirmed by faculty members.
Order illegal & biased
The order is not just discriminatory but also blatantly illegal and has cause outrage among leading disability rights organisations.
For one, as the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) points out, Prof Kant’s memo does not specifically state which section of the CCS rules makes a provision for such “compulsory” retirement. On the contrary, the Central Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2018, states, “The case of a government servant acquiring a disability, where the provisions of Section 20 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (49 of 2016) are applicable, shall be governed by the provisions of the said section”.
Furthermore Section 4, Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 lays down that:
No Government establishment shall dispense with or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his or her service:
- Provided that, if an employee after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, shall be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits.
- Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.
“Despite progressive legislation to empower people with disabilities, autonomous institutions of repute All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh is passing an office order which is not only unfair, discriminatory but also unlawful”, said disability rights leader and Founder, Doctors with Disabilities, Dr Satendra Singh in his letter to Harsh Vadhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. .
Matter taken up with Centre
The NPRD has also taken up the matter with Shakuntala Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, MSJE.
You will agree that coming in the midst of the fight against the pandemic when the country needs to be united, such orders tend to sow seeds of suspicion and discord. We would therefore urge upon you to prevail upon the AIIMS Director, Rishikesh to withdraw this blatantly discriminatory order immediately. Further, if what is contained in the order is true, it reflects poorly on the person occupying such a high office in an institution of repute. You will appreciate that his continuing to stay in that position will not only big disrepute to the Chair but to the very institution itself. – Muralidharan Vishwanath, Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
Dr Singh also points to the larger impact the order will have on the morale of disabled staff at AIIMS Rishikesh. “The staff with disabilities at the lower hierarchies at AIIMS Rishikesh will feel threatened by this dictatorial order in times of pandemic”. He points to the humanitarian response adopted by other countries like Bulgaria and Malta that have increased funding for social welfare systems so vulnerable groups like the disabled community feel protected.
Both groups have also emphasised the need for a vigorous training and sensitisation programme of law makers at all levels.
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