Showing posts with label Bombay High Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bombay High Court. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Mumbai High Court declares BMC circular illegal, directs payment of full salaries to disabled employees for absence during pandemic period

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post  'NAB takes the BMC to High Court for denying full salaries to disabled and older employees during lockdown' detailing the public interest litigation filed by the National Association of Blind after the civic body did not pay full salaries to the 268 visually impaired employees.

Accepting the petitioner's contention that the country’s richest civic body had shown “its inhuman an insensitive face, much to the detriment and prejudice of its physically disabled employees” the Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court, in their 63-page judgment passed on 28th October 2020 (Wednesday),  has held that the BMC's circular and its action of withholding pay during the pandemic were illegal and said, "we direct the corporation to ensure that none of the physically disabled employees, who did not report for duty during the pandemic are denied pay benefits “which they would have been entitled to, but for the pandemic and had they reported for duty”.

On 27 March 2020, the central government through an OM issued by DoPT exempted all government employees with disabilities from reporting for duty during the lockdown saying, "“All ministries and departments are advised to exempt persons with disabilities (PwD) from duties while drawing up roster of employees required to attend to essential services”.

Similar directions were issued by the Maharashtra government on 21 April 2020 exempting disabled employees from attending offices and that the period of absence may be treated as Special Leave without loss of pay. 

On May 2, the BMC announced that its disabled staffers were entitled to a special leave without loss of pay. But, on May 26, it issued a circular  that it was not a special leave, but a permissible leave which requires sanction and involves a pay loss. The circular directed that its disabled employees be given leave which is permitted under the Municipal Services Act. Under this, if these employees have used up sanctioned leaves, they will not get a salary if they don’t report for work. The BMC has nearly 1,150 physically disabled employees, including 278 visually impaired.

The judges noted that while the BMC initially favoured exemption, a “change of mindset resulted in revision of its earlier decision” and it was not backed by tangible evidence of physically disabled employees not facing inconvenience or discomfort while travelling to their workplace or “reference to any incident that could act as a trigger for such decision”. “If the civic body was not inclined to offer financial benefits, like pay physically disabled employees who do not report for duty, it was its duty as a model employer to make special arrangements for public transport or special measures to ensure hassle-free travel for these employees...”

The judges added that the right to free access is a right guaranteed by the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. Although it casts a duty on the state, nothing prevented the BMC as local authority from taking suitable measures for its physically disabled employees.

The judges said the BMC’s ‘flip-flop’ has intrigued them and there was no explanation for it. “This volte-face deserves to be viewed seriously and disapproved strongly.” 

The court said, “The circular requires judicial intervention. The circular and its action of withholding pay is held illegal.”  The Bench said that the payment must be made in two instalments, the first must be paid before Diwali and the second must be paid within 45 days from the date of the first instalment.

Watch out this space for the PDF Judgement soon...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Colour Blind is a disability for admission to FTII, if not for Disability Act : Bombay HC

The Bombay high court on Tuesday upheld the decision of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) not to grant a colour blind candidate admission to the film editing course.

A bench of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Prakash Naik gave their verdict on a petition by Patna based Ashutosh Kumar who was short listed for the post graduate diploma course in film editing. During medical examination he was found to be colour blind and his admission was declined in view of FTII Rules which state that colour blind candidates are not entitled to get admission in various courses including film editing.

Kumar's advocate Kartikeya Bahadur argued that colour blindness is neither a blindness with the meaning of Persons with Disabilities Act and as such the denial on the  basis of colour blindness is illegal. The judges took note that FTII has set up an admission committee of experts from various fields to review the admission criteria.

The bench said when an expert body has fixed eligibility criteria and carved out six courses in which colour blind candidates are not found suitable, the action of  FTII denying admission cannot be said to be illegal or arbitrary. "Keeping in mind the aforesaid, we are of the view that the petitioner being a candidate suffering

from disability of colour blindness, he cannot claim admission in the course in question, in which according to FTII Rules framed by expert body, he cannot be allowed,'' it added. The judges also noted that in the absence of any mala fide or arbitrariness alleged by Kumar against FTII there is no need for the court to  interfere.

Source: Times of India

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bombay HC passes directions to Railways on facilities for disabled; seeks compliance report by 02 May 2017

Dear colleagues,

The Bombay High Court while hearing Writ Petition (Civil) 1684 of 2016 titled Nitin Arjun Gaikwad  Vs. The Union Of India And Ors, on Wednesday, the 25th January 2017, has passed directions to the Railways to :
  • provide facilities to disabled passengers travelling in local trains 
  • CCTV cameras inside reserved compartments
  • special seating arrangements in the platform for the disabled
  • and a a helpline facility for disabled passengers.
The division bench of Shri Justice A S Oka  and Smt. Justice Anuja Prabhudessai also directed the Director General of the Police to issue a circular to police stations in the state to take disciplinary action against police personnel who travel illegally in coaches meant for the disabled.

“The railways must appoint special officers to look into grievances of disabled passengers and also to ensure there is no unauthorised entry and travel by general public or police personnel in these reserved compartments. Despite several complaints made about this unauthorised travel, no action has been taken and neither measures to stop this. It is very shocking that the police themselves are violating the law." the Court observed.

The petitioner, Mr. Nitin Arjun Gaikwad who himself is a person with disability had filed a petition stating unauthorised commute by railway and police officials in the reserved compartments and about various facilities and measures promised to the disabled in platforms and trains which have not been implemented yet, despite orders passed by the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) which had directed the railways to implement these measures.

The court, while taking a note of the order by the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities appointed under the Disability Act of 1995 said, “Apart from CCTVs and seating arrangements for the disabled, a helpline should be activated so that passengers can immediately whatsapp or SMS about unauthorised commute and the railways and the police should appropriately respond and take action immediately.” The court also said that a special drive with extra police personnel should be carried out at various railway stations to create awareness on reserved coaches to ensure nobody travels illegally in coaches meant for the disabled.

The court has directed the railways, the Director General of Police (DGP) and the State Home Department of Maharashtra to submit a Compliance report affidavit regarding the steps taken, on May 2, 2017.

The matter was deferred on 18th Jan 2017 for 25th Jan 2017 for directions at the orders of the Court. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Indian Currency not friendly to Blind, NAB files petition in Bombay High Court

Dear Colleagues,

Coins of various denominations and notes of Rs 100 and Rs 500 have no different identification marks which will help blind persons in differentiating among them claims a petition filed by the National Association for Blind (NAB), before the Bombay High Court. Advocate Uday Warunjikar, who has moved the petition, said: "Under provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act, there are various provisions which have been made by the government for safeguarding the interest of the disabled. Several provisions are also there for ensuring a disable-friendly environment. However, in the present coins and notes it is difficult for persons who are blind or with low vision to differentiate between them."

The petition states that the problems of identification have been aggravated in the last few years. Earlier, blind or low vision person were easily able to identify coins and notes. There were unique marks on each coin; some coins were raised/embossed and tactile. Moreover, on a written request sent by RBI and Mint asking for feedback from NAB on the shape of coins and notes. A detailed suggestion was forwarded to the government in which it was said that there is no much difference between Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes. Coins of Rs 2, Rs 1 and Rs 50 paise are similar, there should be coins with proper borders, different designs, shapes, different textures for avoiding confusion, nothing is being done.

The plea says the suggestions were given last year and it was expected that appropriate decision would be taken. However, till now nothing is being done to address the issue. Earlier, the association would teach blind persons to identify currency notes. Now, it has become difficult to educate them. The petition prays for directions to the authorities to place on record steps it has taken to protect the rights of blind persons to have access to information about the currency notes and coins. Direct the respondents to make changes in the currency notes and coins to help blind persons easily identify them.

Source: DNA

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two High Courts direct Extra time, reasonable accommodation & reservation in CSE 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Two High Courts - Delhi and Bombay decided against UPSC and DOPT and in favour of Persons with Visual Impairments in two matters filed before these courts challenging the constitutional validity of UPSC's Notification Civil Services Examination 2014 as it was against the rights of persons with visual impairments granted by the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995.

The Bombay High Court delivered final judgement ensuring in brief the following:
  • Reservation of 39 for 1291 vacancies not 26 as in the impugned advertisement
  • 13  for Visually Impaired and not 2 as in the impugned advertisement
  • 20 mins time per hour not 10 min. as given in the impugned advertisement
  • Talking calculators for visually impaired candidates wherever general candidates are allowed calculators.
  • Large fonts to be provided on request from the next exam. Not applicable for the Prelims on 24th August 2014.
The Delhi High Court passed an interim order ensuring the following:
  • No stay on the exam as DOPT indicated that they had given 6 vacancies to persons with disabilities, 2 each to the three disabilities act per the Act of 1995 in the IAS. However, DoPT explained it was not the cadre controlling authority on remaining 19 services.
  • 20 Minutes time per hour as against the 10 minutes given in the impugned notification.
  • Court also passed some positive remarks on the powers of Chief Commissioner Disabilities and differentiated the Guideline on scribe have statutory force which could not be overridden by the executive order of the CSE 2014 notification.
  • Asked the UPSC not to disqualify candidates with visual impairments on the grounds of no vacancies.
  • Since no information was available about reservation status in 19 cadres other than IAS, the court also directed UPSC  to ensure proper assessment of number of vacancies reserved for visually impaired candidates in conformity with Section 33 of the Disabilities Act and notify the same before the schedule for Mains examination is fixed.
On Powers of CCPD

Stressing on the powers of the CCPD, the Delhi High Court held that the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) is an authority appointed under Section 57(1) of the Disabilities Act, 1995 for the purposes of the said Act.   Section 58 of the Disabilities Act, 1995 provided for the functions of the CCPD which included taking steps to safeguard the rights and facilities made available to persons with disabilities.That being so, the guidelines dated 26.02.2013 issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the recommendation of CCPD apparently for the purpose of safeguarding the rights and facilities made available to persons with disabilities, cannot be treated as mere executive instructions as sought to be contended by the respondents.  Please refer to my earlier blog entry dated 25 Sep 2012 on making these guidelines.

The court clarified that the guidelines dated 26.02.2013 on Scribe issue which are issued for effective implementation of the provisions of the Disabilities Act, 1995, have statutory force and are bound to be implemented by all the departments and authorities.

The court further held that it is no doubt true that UPSC is a Constitutional and independent body, however, the Civil Services Examination Rules - 2014 issued by the Department of Personnel & Training vide notification dated 31.05.2014 which are only in the nature of executive instructions, cannot override the statutory guidelines dated 26.02.2013 issued in terms of the provisions of the Disabilities Act, 1995 to ensure that a uniform and comprehensive procedure is prescribed for conducting examination for persons with disabilities.

To access the interim order of Delhi High Court  click below :

WP (C) 3919 of 2014 titled Sambhavna Versus Union of India and Ors. (Order in PDF Image 11 pages - may not be accessible for screen readers).

Accessible copy of the above Order dated 19 August 2014 is now available.  Please click here: Order dated 19 Aug 2014 in WP(C) 3919 of 2014


To access the Judgement of Bombay High Court click below:

WP (C) 5953 of 2014 titled Sujit Shinde and Anr Versus UPSC and Anr. (Order in accessible PDF and runs in 19 pages)

Media coverage in Indian Express on the issue:

No stay on Prelims, but HC takes up issue of seats for visually impaired

Express News Service | New Delhi | August 20, 2014 3:21 am

Granting relief to Civil Services aspirants, the Delhi High Court has refused to issue a stay on the preliminary exam for Civil Services 2014, but has directed UPSC to look into the issue of reservation of seats for visually challenged persons as per the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995.

The court has also directed that visually challenged candidates will get 20 extra minutes per hour for every hour of the examination in both the Preliminary and Main exams as per the 2013 guidelines given by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

NGO Sambhavana had sought a stay on the UPSC preliminary examination, alleging that the allocation of seats violated the provisions of the Persons With Disabilities Act 1995, which clearly reserved 1% seats for visually challenged people, out of a total of 3% reservation for disabled candidates.

The NGO in its plea had also stated that executive rules issued in May 2014 by the Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances had reduced the time granted to visually challenged candidates to only 20 minutes extra time in the preliminary exam, which also violated the rules made under the Disabilities Act.

The May 21 notification of the UPSC had advertised for 1,291 vacancies, but had specified 26 seats for disabled candidates, with only two seats reserved for visually challenged persons.

The court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw in its order on Tuesday declined to stay the preliminary exam, but directed that none of the visually impaired candidates should be disqualified in preliminary examination on grounds of no vacancies.

Noting that the data on exact number of vacancies had been received only for the IAS cadre and not for the other 19 services, the court has directed the UPSC to “ensure proper assessment of number of vacancies reserved for visually impaired candidates in conformity with 1% reservation provided under Section 33 of the Disabilities Act, 1995 and notify the same”, before the schedule for Main examination is fixed.

“Out of 180 vacancies sought to be filled up in IAS on the basis of Civil Services Examination-2014, six vacancies are reserved for candidates belonging to physically handicapped category, i.e., 2 each for visually impaired, hearing impaired and locomotor disability. Thus, for IAS itself two vacancies are reserved for visually impaired. What is the vacancy position in the other 19 services that are identified suitable for physically disabled category is not known. The counter-affidavit filed on behalf of UPSC is silent on this aspect and no particulars have been furnished about the number of vacancies furnished by the other Cadre Controlling Authorities,” noted the court.

Further, the High Court has pulled up the UPSC for failing to implement the rules made under the Disabilities Act regarding extra time for visually challenged candidates.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bombay HC - Termination of Driver with Colour Blindness quashed, given protection of section 47; Disabilities Act 1995

Dear Colleagues,

In the instant matter, the division bench of Justice S A Bobde and Justice M N Gilani of Bombay High Court has agreed that the case of a civil mechanical transport driver employed by the Indian Air Force who was sacked from his job after he was found to be colour-blind is covered under Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 and as a result quashed the termination order of Pramod Sadashiv Thakre.

Under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act 1995 - a benevolent legislation- an employee who acquires a disability during his service cannot be thrown out of his job. In case, he is unable to do the present work for which he was employed, it is the employer's duty to transfer him to another post or give him a supernumerary post.

Thakre was appointed as a civil mechanical transport driver in 2003. According to Thakre, he was found fit for the appointment on the basis of a civil surgeon's medical certificate, which declared him normal. Two years later in August 2005, his services were terminated on the grounds that he had been found to "suffer from colour-blindness". The CAT set aside the termination order, but the Union Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force approached the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court against the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bombay Bench, Camp at Nagpur.

The Union of India claimed that Thakre could not have acquired the colour-blindness during his employment as it was congenital. The High Court, however, did not buy the argument, "Firstly, no medical evidence was placed on record to establish that colour-blindness can only be congenital and cannot be acquired.  Moreover, there is no evidence on record that Thakre was colour-blind when he was employed. The petitioners accepted the respondent's fitness by relying on the certificate granted to him which sets him as normal," the judges said while upholding the CAT order. The court said that the IAF did not administer any test to check if he was colour blind.

Judgement Included

Click here for the Judgement dated 24 Feb 2011 by the Central Administrative Tribunal in OA No.   2117/2006 titled Pramod Sadashiv Thakre Vs. Union of India & Ors.

Click here for the Judgement dated 19 October 2011 of the Hon'ble Bombay High Court Writ Petition No. 3620/2011, titled Union Of India vs Pramod Sadashiv Thakre