Order granting disabled people SC/ST quota benefits a huge boost to rights of the community, say activists
Disability rights groups have welcomed the Supreme Court order that people with disabilities are entitled to the same benefits as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education. The order upheld an earlier judgement of the Delhi High Court.
A 2012 judgement that was upheld by the Supreme Court today. A three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman has upheld a Delhi High Court order in the case of a minor Anamol Bhandari.
In its order, the court said, “In Anamol Bhandari, the High Court has correctly held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least, entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe candidates”.
The order came on a petition filed by Aryan Raj, a person with disability against the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh. The college denied Aryan relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course. It insisted that disabled people need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation to 35%.
Details of the Supreme Court order
The Supreme Court said the same benefit would apply to disabled people in the future. It also highlighted the Delhi High Court’s words in the Anmol Bhandari case that new academic courses should be crafted to specifically cater to the needs of intellectually disabled persons.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that intellectually/mentally challenged persons have certain limitations, which are not there in physically challenged persons. The subject experts would thus be well advised to examine the feasibility of creating a course which caters to the specific needs of such persons. They may also examine increasing the number of seats in the discipline of Painting and Applied Art with a view to accommodating such students. – Supreme Court of India
Advocate Rajan Mani, who also appeared for Anmol, said the order was a huge boost to the rights of disabled people. Speaking to the media he said, “Candidates with disabilities were often not able to get the benefit of reservation in education and employment because of not meeting the general standards. Now, public sector employers and colleges / universities will have to allow the same relaxations to them as to SC/ST candidates”.
Disability groups reactions
The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), welcomed the order. “Candidates with disabilities unable to meet general standards- were unable to avail reservation in education and employment. Now, public sector employer/colleges/universities will have to allow them same relaxations as given to SC/ST candidates”.
Smitha Sadasivan of Disability Rights Alliance of India has a special word of appreciation for the Bench’s words on the need to devise appropriate courses.
“I highly appreciate the judges for ascertaining the capacity of persons with intellectual and psychosocial Disabilities and the need to devise courses accordingly. This should be executed in all courses and not just painting and art. Persons with disabilities face multiple barriers, not just social attitudes, but barriers in infrastructure, information, communication, administration and the judicial system. It is the duty of the government to enable a level playing field where persons with disabilities can participate on an equal basis with others”.
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) commends the Bench for recognising disabled people as one of the most marginalised sections of society who are subject to multiple levels of discrimination. “Though age relaxations are given for admissions and in employment also, this judgement directs for relaxation in marks as well. Even for civil services examinations, while other socially backward groups are given more number of attempts, general category disabled candidates are denied this relaxation. Extending relaxations as given to SC/STs in the matter of education and employment will have wide ranging implications. This would see more number of disabled being able to get into careers of their choice”.
This is an important judgement pertaining to the rights of people with disabilities says Jomy John Joseph, a disability rights activist from Kerala. “Currently people from SC/ST categories enjoy many benefits when it comes to competitive exams or government jobs. There are age relaxations as well as relaxations in cut off marks. The court has currently ruled that people with disabilities should be on par”.
Welcoming the order, Prajith Jaipal, Founder, Divyang Foundation Trust, cautioned that efforts be made to sensitise officials in states. “This is 100% acceptable and something appreciated. But we also need to see how well this will be implemented. That is, are concerned department officials going to be made aware about this. Right from central to state wise, all officials must be informed”.
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