Monday, July 31, 2023

Bombay HC threatens contempt proceedings if State didn't provide information about implementation of 5% reservation in land allotmment to persons with disabilities at concessional rates under RPWD Act.

Court: Bombay High Court 

Bench: Hon'ble Justice Gautam Patel and Hon'ble Justice Neela Gokhale

Case No.: Writ Petition No. 583 of 2020

Case Title: Rajendra Petrus Lalzare Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

Date of Order: 31 July 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 21 Aug 2023

Case Brief:

The Bombay High Court has issued a stern warning to the Maharashtra government for its failure to provide a meaningful response to the court's query regarding the implementation of a 5 per cent reservation in land allotment at concessional rates for disabled persons under the Disabilities Act. The court has threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against government officials if a proper reply is not filed.

The bench expressed, "This is the most shameful state of affairs. We are not even on the merits of the Petition, but only on the failure of the Government to furnish a meaningful response."

The case was brought before the bench by petitioner seeking the enforcement of Section 37 (c) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. This provision mandates that the government should create schemes favoring disabled individuals and allocate 5 per cent reservation in the allotment of land at concessional rates for various purposes, including housing, shelter, occupation, business, and recreation centers.

The petition was filed in 2020, and since then, it has been listed for periodic hearings. However, on every occasion, the government has sought adjournments to submit its affidavit, resulting in delays. In June 2022, an additional government pleader orally informed the court about the government's contemplation of issuing general directions to reserve 5 per cent of land for persons with disabilities. Despite this assurance, the government has not taken the necessary action.

The bench pointed out that the government's response, citing the Maharashtra Land Disposal Rules, did not address the court's specific query. The court emphasised the government's obligation to file a proper affidavit outlining the steps taken under Section 37 (c) of the Disabilities Act.

The bench said, "Now we are making it clear that while we are accommodating the learned AGP on personal grounds, we will not grant further time on the next date under any circumstances. If the Affidavit that is said to be filed in purported or ostensible compliance with orders of this Court does not answer the question of steps taken under Section 37(c) of the Disabilities Act, we are putting all concerned in the Government to notice that we will have no choice but to proceed against those officers, if necessary, in suo moto contempt for disobedience of orders of this Court. If the matter is being stood over by two weeks to accommodate the learned AGP, that time should be better utilised to make amends and to clarify the stand of the Government in accordance with the orders of this Court."

The court has granted the state government a final opportunity to file a meaningful response and set the next hearing for August 21, 2023. If the government fails to comply with this directive, the court warned that it may take suo motu contempt action against the responsible officers for disobeying its orders.

Read the Court Order below:

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Delhi HC directs Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University to provide 5% reservation for persons with disabilities as per RPWD Act 2016.

Court: High Court of Delhi

Bench:  Hon'ble Mr. Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, and Mr. Justice Saurabh Banerjee

Case No.:  W.P.(C) 6605/2023

Case Title: Justice for All  Vs. Govt of NCT of Delhi & Others

Date of Interim order: 17 May 2023 [PDF 1MB]

Date of Judgement: 25 July 2023 [PDF 967KB]


Delhi High Court has taken a significant step towards promoting inclusivity and accessibility in educational institutions by instructing the city government and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University to ensure a five percent reservation for specially-abled candidates.

This directive aims to uphold the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities for education.

The order came in response to a public interest litigation that alleged the respondent university was not adhering to the provisions of the Act.

While the university claimed to have provided a five percent quota for specially-abled candidates in all courses, the court directed the Delhi government and the university to make further efforts to ensure seats designated for specially-abled persons are indeed filled by candidates from all categories of disabilities.

On 17.5.2023, the court passed an interim order directing the university to provide the appropriate reservations for candidates with disabilities in the ongoing academic session. The petitioner, brought attention to the fact that the university was only offering a three percent quota instead of the mandated five percent under the Act. In response, the university filed an affidavit, confirming that it was indeed implementing a five percent reservation for specially-abled individuals.

Access the Judgement dated 25 Jul 2023

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Bombay HC- RBI says it is aware of concerns of visually impaired but issueing new banknotes a huge task (Ongoing matter)

Court: Bombay High Court (Mumbai)

Bench: Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice Shri Nitin Jamdar and Mr. Jusitce Shri Arif S. Doctor

Case No.: PIL/13/2019 (Original) [Previous references: WP lodging No. 2038 of 2016, WP No. 2420 of 2017]

Case Title: National Association for the Blind (India) Vs. Reserve Bank of India and 2 Others.

Subject:  Inaccessibility of bank notes and coins to blind and visually impaired.

Date of Order: 19 July 2023

Earlier Order: 28 June 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 11 October 2023

Case Brief:

The Reserve Bank of India in an affidavit tells the the Bombay High Court bench that while it acknowledges the concerns of visually impaired persons regarding identification of currencies, introducing new banknotes was a monumental task that is extremely complicated and time-consuming process extending over a period of 6-7 years and also entails heavy expenditure.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition by the National Association ofthe Blind (NAB), claiming new currency notes and coins issued by the central bank posed difficulty for visually-impaired people in identifying and distinguishing them.

The affidavit said the process adopted before introducing new series of banknotes involves multiple considerations, including incorporation of visually impaired-friendly features, security, and design features to make them counterfeit deterrent.

"The RBI is aware of and acknowledges the concerns of the visually impaired persons regarding identification of banknotes. The work on the next series of banknotes has been underway since 2017," it said.

"Introducing a new series of banknotes is a monumental task. This has to be thought through carefully because having multiple series of banknotes of different sizes and features of the same denomination would cause more confusion than resolve the problem," the affidavit noted.

The central bank pointed out that the expenditure that would be incurred in introducing a new series of currencies would be high. The affidavit said the annual expenditure towards security printing was pegged at Rs 4,682 crore.

"This annual amount was not for introducing a new series but merely for printing notes to replace old, soiled, damaged notes and to meet the incremental demand of banknotes," it said.

The cost of introducing a new series of banknotes will be much higher and will include expenditure towards adaptation of paper production, printing machines and the entire currency dispensation and processing eco-system to any proposed changes, the document said.

The RBI urged the HC to dismiss the NAB's petition with cost claiming it has taken all necessary steps in studying the grievance highlighted in the plea and was examining the matter with due seriousness.

On Wednesday, NAB advocate Uday Warunjikar sought the court to not dispose of the plea and said the RBI has not made a positive statement in its affidavit.

RBI counsel Venkatesh Dhond said the petitioner has a unipolar thought but the central bank has to consider several points. Dhond sought further time from the HC for the banking regulator to consider the issue. The division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Jamdar then posted the matter for further hearing after 12 weeks.

The RBI affidavit pointed out that central banks across the world generally change the design of banknotes and introduce new security features once in a decade primarily to make counterfeiting difficult.

The RBI also follows the same policy but the periodicity is not fixed and is dependent upon several factors such as number and quality of counterfeit notes detected, existence of other perceived threats to the security of the national currency and changes in national policies, it said.

The affidavit maintained the last time a series of banknotes were introduced was in 2016 and this was preceded by an elaborate process of consultation among various stakeholders.

"This process included the constitution of a design committee in 2010 comprising field experts to make recommendations on the design/size of the new series of banknotes, including making them sensitive to the requirements of the differently abled persons," it said.

"Considering the needs of the visually impaired persons, features such as intaglio, identification marks, bleed lines and so on have been included in the banknotes in addition to the difference in size of various denominations though the same were reduced from the earlier series to make them aligned with international norms and to make them more wallet friendly," the RBI said.

The process also involves taking feedback from representatives of two national-level associations of visually impaired and to "the extent feasible, their concerns will be factored in the next series of banknotes", said the affidavit.

Read the Order dated 19 July 2023 below:

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

In a bid to make inspection of digitized court records accessible Delhi HC notifies rules applicable to all district courts and Tribunals under its control

Dear Colleagues,

The Delhi High Court has notified rules providing for electronic inspection of the digitized Court record of the High Court as well District Courts and Tribunal under its control and supervision. This will help litigants, lawyers alike in not only savinv their time and energy but also make it more accesssible to diverse group of users with disabilities.

These Rules shall govern the procedure related to the electronic inspection of the digitized Court record of the High Court as well District Courts and Tribunal under its control and supervision and shall be called “The Delhi High Court Rules for Electronic Inspection of Digitized Court Records, 2023”. The facility of electronic inspection of court record shall be in addition to the existing facility of physical inspection.

Below is the Gazette notification dated 18 July 2023 on the subject:

Monday, July 17, 2023

Supreme Court directs appointment of independent Disability Commissioners in all states by 31 Aug 2023

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud ; Mr. Justice PS Narasimha and Mr. Justice Manoj Misra 

Case Title: Seema Girija Lal And Anr. v. Union of India And Ors. 

Case No.: Writ Petition (Civil) Diary No(s). 29329/2021 

Date of Order:  17 Jul 2023 

Previous Order: 13 Jan 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 18 Sep 2023


Please refer to the brief write up on the previous order passed by the court dated 13 Jan 2023 in this PIL seeking the formation of district-level committees to enforce the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, when the Hon'ble supreme court was pleased to issue a notice, without even admitting it or the registry allocating it a Writ petition number.  The petition stated that India’s basic infrastructure to meet the needs of its nearly 3 crore persons with disabilities is 'visibly absent', and that the top court should take judicial notice of this concern. 

The bench had then specifically passed the following order:

"We direct that notice shall be issued to Union of India and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The Ministry shall file counter affidavit within a period of a month. The affidavit shall indicate state wise the implementation. Union of India shall convene a meeting with all concerned states and state advisory boards with a view to eliciting the present status of compliance. We request Ms. Divan, ASG to assist. At this stage we're not issuing notice to state govts. Based on affidavits, we'll decide."

During the hearing on 17 July 2023, the Chief Justice expressed the concern that the current state of implementation of the RPWD Act 2016 revealed a distressing situation throughout the country. 

Pertinently, the bench noted that disability commissioners were entrusted with several statutory duties under Section 75 and Section 80G of Act. However, a report before the Court indicated that several States and Union Territories had failed to appoint such independent commissioners as required under Section 79 of the Act. And thus it direted the appointment of such commissioners by August 31, 2023.

The Court further ordered the concerned Union Ministry to coordinated with the relevant ministry of all State governments to file an updated affidavit by September 17. The States were asked to upload relevant details on the dashboard of the Central government.

The matter has now been listed for further hearing on September 18, 2023.

Read the Order dated 17 July 2023 below:

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Delhi High Court holds EPFO's action discriminatory in denying typing speed exemption to a candidate with upper limb disability.

Court: Delhi High Court 

Bench: Hon'ble Mr. Justice V. Kameshwar Rao & Honb'le Mr. Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta

Case No.: W.P.(C) 9255/2019

Case title: Raju Ranjan Vs. Union of India & Anr.

Date of Decision: 11 July 2023


A division bench of the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of an disabled individual's on the issue of exemption from the computer typing test for individuals with upper limb disabilities in a case involving the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). 

The Court acknowledged that when a clerical position is designated as suitable for individuals with upper limb impairments, it becomes impermissible to subject such individuals to a pre-employment computer typing test. This is because persons with disabilities in their arm or hand may face significant challenges in maintaining the required typing speed. Consequently, such a typing test would be deemed arbitrary and constitutionally impermissible.

As a result of this judgment, the Delhi High Court directed the Employees Provident Fund Organization to grant an exemption to a candidate with a disability in one arm from the computer skill test for the position of Social Security Assistant. The candidate's employment eligibility would be determined solely based on their performance in the written examination.

The petitioner, who has a 40% Locomotor Disability affecting one arm, argued that the EPFO failed to appreciate the nature of their disability, despite presenting an Exemption Certificate issued by the Competent Authority.

It was observed that the EPFO had identified the Social Security Assistant position as suitable for individuals with one arm disabilities, thereby fulfilling their legal obligation under the 1995 Act. However, the recruitment rules for this position required a typing speed of at least 5000 Key Depressions Per Hour (KDPH) for data entry work. This requirement was deemed arbitrary and discriminatory toward individuals with physical handicaps, particularly those with one arm affected, as it would be virtually impossible for them to achieve this typing speed.

The only logical application of the job advertisement would have been to grant an exemption to physically handicapped individuals with one arm affected. Regrettably, this was not done, and the EPFO did not prescribe relaxed standards for candidates with such disabilities. The petitioner, for instance, was able to achieve a typing speed of only 1935 KDPH.

The petitioner argued that the EPFO's conduct revealed that they had identified the position as a mere formality to show compliance with legal provisions, rather than a genuine intention to extend the benefits of the Act to potential beneficiaries.

Furthermore, the EPFO's actions were found to be arbitrary and discriminatory. Internally, the EPFO had granted an exemption from the computer skill test to all physically challenged Lower Division Clerks (LDCs) for their promotion or absorption into the Social Security Assistant position, even if the disability affected both hands or had an impact on computer operations. 

Access the Judgement here:

Monday, July 10, 2023

Karnataka HC- During the exam, facility of Scribe and Option of objective type questions can be availed by other disabilities too, not just by candidates with hearing impairment.

Court: Karnataka High Court, India

Bench: The Hon'ble Mr. Prasanna B. Varale, Chief Justice and The Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.G.S. Kamal

Case No: Writ Appeal No. 722 OF 2023 

Case Title: Karnataka State Law University Vs.  Krishna

Date of Judgement: 10-07-2023


The Karnataka High Court dismissed an appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University challenging a single bench order directing it to conduct III Semester exam for a differently abled Law student, by providing objective type of questions instead of descriptive type of questions.

It said that the overall object of the MSJE Exam Guidelines for persons with disabilities  needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system and that there is no stringent distinction based on the nature of disability in Exam Guidelines for alternative objective exam for students with disabilities.

Krishna, having 46% overall impairment affecting both brain and eyes, is pursuing his five years integrated law degree at Vaikunta Baliga Law College. Since he was unable to write by hand as such for the I Semester exam he utilized the facility of scribe. He was, however, informed by the college that unless permission was granted by the University, it cannot permit him to take the help of a scribe for examinations in future.

Accordingly, he made a representation to the appellant-University requesting for objective questions instead of descriptive questions and to utilize the help of a scribe in view of his disability. However, no action was taken on the representation constraining him to file a writ petition before the High Court.

The Court disposed of his petition while directing the University to consider the grievance and pass appropriate orders. Following which the University partly allowed the representation and rejected the request to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

Thus the student again approached the Court which took note of the relevant guidelines issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) making provision for providing objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the disabled students. Court declined to accept the contention of the appellant-University that the provision is applicable only to the students having hearing impairment.

It held, “Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 `persons with bench mark disability’ means person with not less than 40% of specified disability, where specified disability has not been defined in measurable terms and includes a person with disability where specified disability has been defined in measurable terms as certified by the certifying authority."

Further, it directed the University to subject the student to medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

The University in appeal argued that as per the guidelines, alternative objective questions can be provided only for those students who are are person with hearing impairment and not to persons  from any other disabilities. In the instant case since the student is not a person with hearing impairment but with a visual impairment and mental retardation, it contended that the benefit of the aforesaid provision cannot be extended. It was also submitted that since the student is suffering from mental retardation, objective questions which requires reasoning and intellectual skill cannot be provided.

A division bench said, “The overall object of the guidelines needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system. There cannot be any strict and stringent distinction on the basis of the nature of ailment. The purpose is to facilitate the specially abled persons to participate in the examination within the limits provided under the guidelines subject to required compliance in the nature of obtaining certificates from the competent authorities"

It added “Viewed from the said object, learned Single Judge taking note of the provisions describing persons with disability as provided under Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has directed the appellant-University to subject the respondent for medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and only if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the respondent in the ensuing examination.”

Accordingly the bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University. Read the Judgement below:

Kerala HC- Invokes parens patriae, directs district administration and local institution to handover the daughter with autism to mother

Court: Kerala High Court, India

Bench: Honourable Mr. Justice P.B.Suresh Kumar & the honourable Mrs. Justice C.S. Sudha

Case Title: Santha Kumari v. State of Kerala & Ors. 

Case Number: WP(CRL.) NO. 296 OF 2023

Date of Judgement: 10 July 2023

Act Referred: National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999


No one else can give to the ward all that a mother can give to her, said the Kerala High Court while uniting a differently abled child with her mother.

Invoking parens patriae jurisdiction to ensure that the child is not left "at the mercy of others, a Division Bench of Kerala HC, ordered the girl child with autism be united with her mother instead of being in an institution after the death of father.

The crux of the case is that the petitioner-mother was living separately from her husband after the birth of the child in question. The child resided with the father who obtained an order under Section 14 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (hereinafter, 'Act, 1999'), appointing him as the guardian of the ward and his second wife (6th respondent) as the alternative guardian.

After his death, the petitioner sought the child's custody who was meanwhile handed over to the Grace Home Charitable Society (5th respondent) by the local authorities. The 5th respondent insisted on concurrence of the District Administration and the Gram Panchayat however, the same was refused. Hence this petition was filed.

Court observed that Section 14 does not affect in any manner, the rights of the parents of persons with disability to take care of their dependent children with disabilities, if they are not otherwise disqualified. The Court thus directed the petitioner to submit an affidavit as to whether she would be in a position to care for the ward. Ultimately, finding the petitioner fit, the Court ordered that the child be handed over to her.

Read the Judgement below:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Orissa HC issues contempt notice to Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri on lack of accessibility and dignified access to devotees with disabiliites

Court:  High Court of Orissa at Cuttack

Bench: Hon'ble Justice Biswanath Rath

Case No: CONTC NO.3478 OF 2023 

Arising from Case:   W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 decided on 28.02.2022

Case Title:  Jitendra Kumar Biswal  versus Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri & Ors. 

Date of Order/Contempt Notice: 07.07.2023


A prominent disability right activist and a wheelchair user himself filed a second contempt petition in Orissa High Court following State government’s failure to provide accessible facilities for disabled particularly wheelchair user devotee's access to 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, despite the court twice ordering to do so.

The issue was first raised by the present petitioner Jitendra Kumar Biswal (50), a resident of Bhubaneswar, a person with disability and also a disability rights activist, who filed a PIL seeking judicial intervention for facilitating the free movement of devotees who are wheelchair users, within the temple complex in January 2022. 

While disposing of the petition on February 28, 2022, the Hight Court had said, “In view of the urgency involved in this matter and as a decision in the matter is required to be taken by the administrative authority at the first hand, this court directs that Shree Jagannath Temple Committee and chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple to collectively take a lawful decision in the matter by treating the petition as a representation at the instance of the petitioner.”

However, Biswal filed a contempt petition when the order was not complied with. Acting on it, the HC on December 20 last year said, “Considering this is the first contempt petition, this court disposes of the same directing all the contemnors (chairman of temple managing committee, chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple and collector, Puri) to work out the February 28, 2022 direction of this court in the disposal of the petition/representation at least within a further period of one month.”.

But petitioner was forced to file a fresh (second) contempt petition. The petitioner expects authorities to make designated space within the inner sanctum of Jagannath Temple for wheelchair-using devotees to offer their prayers and to have a clear view of the three deities. He also expected the authorities to make other provisions that may be required within the temple complex for the free movement of wheelchair-using devotees. 

During March 2023, there were media reports that the Temple Administration were proposing to provide special services. According to the proposal, the PwD devotees will be carried to the sanctum sanctorum by volunteers on their back just like it is done by ‘pithoos’ at Amarnath and Vaishno Devi temples. Around 30 devotees will be taken inside the temple through the existing ramp at the north gate (Uttara Dwara) of the shrine every day.

As per the preliminary proposal, the PwD visitors will have to book their visit to the temple through a dedicated portal and produce a 100 per cent disability certificate before entry. They can be accompanied by one family member. At the Uttara Dwara, a reception centre with a bathroom has been proposed to be set up where the devotees can wait for their turn.  

It was reported that the sevayats have agreed that such devotees can be provided a special darshan from 2 pm to 4 pm after the Bhoga mandapa rituals are over and when entry of general devotees is closed.

It was proposed that from the Uttara Dwara, the PwD visitors will be carried to Jay Bijaya Dwara through Ghanti Dwara for ‘darshan’ and brought back through the same route. For this purpose, the Suara and Maha Suara servitors can be roped in as they have experience of carrying head loads of bhoga in the temple. A devotee can re-book a visit to the temple only after two months of the first visit. However, these proposals have not found favour with the usergroups since this doesn't address the accessibility of the place and engages in to practices of physically lifting devotees with disabilities as sac of patotoes compromising with their dignity, respect and equal right to worship.

The contempt petition is against the following as named contemnors:-  

1) Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singha Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
2) Ranjan Kumar Dash, Chief Administrator Puri, Jagannath Temple Puri.
3) Samarth Verma, The Collector, Puri.

The petition alleges violation of this Court’s direction in disposal of W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 on 28.02.2022. There is serious allegation that more than one year has passed in the meanwhile and there is no compliance to the direction of this Court in the above writ petition.

"This Court hopes and trusts that by the next date of posting of the matter, there shall be arrangement for removing the inconvenience faced by the senior citizen or the handicapped people in having their visiting and observing the deities in the Lord Jagannath temple." says the order issuing contempt notice.

Below is the copy of the order:

In a tweet, the petitioner Mr. Jitendra Kumar Biswal, expressed his hope in following terms: 

Here is the Order disposing off the original writ petition W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 filed by same petitioner in 28 Feb 2022.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Supreme Court to RBI : Section 33 of PWD Act 1995 provides statutorily conferred right to reservation in promotional appointment in Group A to the disabled.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench:  Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dipankar Datta & Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

Case No. : Civil Appeal Nos.529 OF 2023, 

Case title: Reserve Bank of India Vs. A.K. Nair & Ors.

Date of Judgement: 04 July 2023

Cases referred/relied upon: 

1. Rajeev Kumar Gupta and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors

2. Siddaraju vs. State of Karnataka and Ors

3. State of Kerala and Ors. vs. Leesamma Joseph.

Brief of the Case

Invoking its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to retrospectively extend the benefit of reservation in promotions to an employee with physical disability (post-polio limb paralysis). 

The Court held that the employee had a statutory right to claim reservation even in promotion towards the appointment in Class I posts, as per Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

However, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, in a concurring opinion, also cautioned that reservations in promotions cannot be unduly extended to others entitled to horizontal reservations (like reservations for women, transgender persons etc.), just because persons with disabilities have been given such reservations.

"That persons with disabilities need to be accommodated, in public service, is a given. At the same time, this reasonable accommodation ought not to open gates for demands by those benefitting other kinds of horizontal reservation, for reservation in promotional vacancies in public services," Justice Bhat observed.

"It was not the intention of Article 16 of the Constitution to compromise on administrative inefficiency by culling the spirit of competition - after all, positions gained by promotions taper higher up. To ear-mark a certain portion to one class of citizens, and not others, who may have also gained initial appointments on the strength of such horizontality (such as women, retired / ex-servicemen, etc.) is not constitutionally protected – the only exception to reservations in promotions is SC / ST appointees, as provided under Article 16(4A)," the judgment stated.

The petitoner in this case, Mr. AK Nair, a Coin Manager at the RBI had appeared for the All India Merit Test in 2003 for promotion to a Class I post, but had fallen short of qualifying by three marks in general category list. His representations seeking relaxation in the same on account of his disability didn't find favour. Interestingly, the posts in question had the same cut-off, at the time, for both the general category candidates and candidates with disabilities.

In 2014, the Bombay High Court held that the RBI was required to provide reservations in promotion for candidates with disabilities on a horizontal basis with effect from 2006. However, the High Court did not give any relief to Nair, leading to the appeal before the Supreme Court.

"We have no doubt that Mr. Nair did have a statutorily conferred right all through to claim that reservation in promotional appointment in Group ‘A’ posts is ingrained in the PwD Act, 1995 ... The omission or failure of the RBI in condoning the shortfall in marks coupled with the neglect to identify a Group ‘A’ post suitable for reservation to accommodate Mr. Nair on promotion appears to us to be indefensible." expressed the Bench while allowing the appeal of Mr. Nair. 

In the opinion authored by Justice Datta, the Court also criticised the RBI for its rigid approach in deciding the employee's claim. "Even otherwise, to reach out to persons with disabilities and grant them the facilities and benefits that the PwD Act, 1995 envisaged, it was rather harsh to apply standards which are applicable to general candidates to Mr. Nair while he competed with such general candidates for securing his promotion. RBI, as a model employer, ought to have taken an informed decision in this regard commensurate with the aspirations of persons with disabilities."

The Court has granted the RBI four months time to complete the requisite formalities to release the monetary benefits due to Nair. The bench also clarified that when Nair retires in 2025, his retiral benefits should be computed taking into account the Court's ruling that his promotion should be recognised retrospectively.

Read the judgement: 

Monday, July 3, 2023

CCPD directs IBPS to allow examinee with vision disabilities to use digital magnifier during examination as a reasonable accommodation

Court: Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities

Date of Judgement: 03 July 2023

In a significant ruling, the Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) addressed the case of a complainant with substantial hearing and visual disabilities seeking accommodation during the Institute of Banking and Personnel Services (IBPS) examination. The complainant, facing 93% hearing impairment and 75% visual impairment, requested the use of a digital magnifier to participate in the examination, crucial for reading questions displayed on a computer screen and subsequently recording answers on paper with the aid of a scribe.

IBPS, however, denied the use of the digital magnifier citing concerns over potential unfair advantages due to its photo capture and storage capabilities.

Legal Framework and Decision:

Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the CCPD emphasized the obligation of the government to provide "reasonable accommodation" to persons with disabilities. The Commissioner underscored that such accommodation is not discretionary but a mandated protection against discrimination. The refusal to accommodate the complainant’s request was deemed discriminatory under this provision.

Commissioner’s Recommendation:

In response to the case, the CCPD directed IBPS to either vet the complainant's digital magnifier prior to the examination or alternatively provide an appropriate device themselves. This decision underscores the importance of accommodating technological aids that enable persons with disabilities to participate fully and fairly in competitive examinations.

This ruling sets a precedent for ensuring equitable access and opportunity for persons with disabilities in public examinations, reinforcing the principles of inclusivity and non-discrimination as enshrined in Indian disability rights law particularly teh concept of 'reasonable accommodation'.