Thursday, September 1, 2016

Supreme Court while upholding the Karnataka HC decision directs Karnataka Govt not to deny Primary School Teacher jobs to Visually Impaired Candidatesto

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Hon'ble the Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Hon'ble Mr. Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Hon'ble Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud

Case No.: Civil Appeal No. 3910 of 2009 (Against the final order and judgment of the Karnataka High Court in PIL Writ Petition No. 16396 of 2005 dt. 29.09.2007)

Case Title: Selection Authority and Deputy Director  Vs. Akhila Karnataka S.K. Andha Sangha

Date of Judgement: 01 Sep 2016

Supreme Court directs Karnataka Govt. to not keep visually impaired persons out of primary school teacher jobs while dismissing the appeal filed by the Karnataka Govt.

Supreme Court of India upheld the ruling of the Karnataka High Court in PIL Writ petition No. 16396 of 2005, directing the Karnataka State Government to ensure reservation for visually impaired persons in the role of primary school teachers and to execute this through a dedicated recruitment drive. This decision marked the culmination of a legal battle that saw the state government arguing that individuals with blindness or low vision were unsuitable for the role of primary school teachers and should not be entitled to reservation in these positions.

The repercussions of this Supreme Court ruling are significant, as it will necessitate the recruitment of hundreds of blind and low vision individuals to address the shortfall in reserved vacancies that had persisted since 2005.

This legal victory was achieved through the efforts of a non-governmental organization (NGO) representing blind individuals, known as the "Akhila Karnataka Andha S.K. Sangha", with the able representation of Advocate Jayna Kothari. The organization had previously succeeded in petitioning the Karnataka High Court, where the state had argued that primary school teacher positions were ill-suited for visually impaired persons. In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court in July 2016, the state contended that students in primary schools could not be effectively taught by teachers with blindness or low vision. They further claimed that many government primary schools, out of a total of 44,000, had only one or two teachers without additional support staff, making it difficult for such schools to function if reservations were granted to visually impaired persons.

However, the Supreme Court ultimately rejected these arguments put forth by the Karnataka State Government. The bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, pointed out that the Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995 mandates that a minimum of 3% of all government job vacancies should be reserved for disabled individuals. Of this quota, at least 1% should be allocated for persons with impaired vision. Moreover, both the Central and Karnataka State Governments had recognized primary school teaching positions as suitable for blind and low vision individuals in accordance with the said Act. The court maintained that placing visually impaired individuals in schools equipped with other teachers and support staff would not disrupt the schools' functioning, particularly given the availability of modern technology-based aids and appliances for blind and low vision individuals. Thus, the Supreme Court held the state government responsible for fulfilling its obligation to employ visually impaired persons in these positions and dismissed their appeal.

Below the Supreme Court's order dated 01.09.2016 dismissing the appeal of the State Govt. of Karnataka:

"We have heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable length who have taken us through the orders impugned in these appeals. We are of the considered view that the impugned orders do not suffer from any error much less any perversity to compel our interference in exercise of our powers under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. These civil appeals accordingly fail and are dismissed."

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