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. 

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