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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Kerala HC | Seema Lal & Ors Vs. State of Kerala & Ors | WP(C).No.15436 OF 2017(S) | 22 Jan 2020

Dear colleagues,

Boom in medical tourism in Ayurveda, Kerala - God's own country, has seen proliferation of therapeutic services. With a large number of professional nurses, trained paramedical manpower, the State has also seen rise in Therapy Centres focussed on improving functional abilities and management of disabling conditions in children with disabilities. 

Several parents of children with disabilities having felt exploited at the hands of these institutions and against unprofessionally managed services with least care to child rights,  had raised a campaign for regulation of these institutions in 2015. It was learnt by parents that neither the department of health nor the social justice, women and child departments had any authority to regulate these therapy centres. These centres simply ran under the Shops and Establishements Act in the name of regulation. Several media stories led to ordering of a probe by the then Ernakulam district collector M Rajamanickam to order a probe by health department. The state child rights commission also passed directives to the state government seeking regulations. However not much change happened on the ground forcing the parents to move Kerala High Court through a writ petition. During the course of hearings, and as a result of several interim orders, Government of Kerala state took some actions to regulate these institutions. 

The Court has passed its judgement on 22 Jan 2020 in this matter titled 'Seema Lal & Ors Vs. State of Kerala & Ors' WP(C).No.15436 OF 2017(S).

In its judgment, the court has asked the state to issue the guidelines and ensure that all centres are registered with a fixed timeline. The Govt. has accordingly issued notifications, wherein the qualifications of all therapists are defined, and specifications have been issued while setting up therapy centres. Now, all therapy centres providing services to persons with disabilities under a regulatory mechanism need registration before a competent authority notified by government as per Section 49 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

This is a step in right direction and must be followed up in other States as well.

Download a copy of the Judgement

Kerala High Court
Petitioners:        Seema Lal and Ors
Respondents:     State of Kerala and Ors
Case No. :          WP(C).No.15436 OF 2017(S)
Date of Order:    22 Jan 2020

Copy of the Judgement :- Download  or read below.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Right to Dignity - a Consititutional Right of the Female Disabled Employee will Prevail over Employer's Right to Take Work, says Kerala HC [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a classic case where the Indian Railways has been wasting the exchequer's money in unnecessary legal battle against a female disabled employee who was seeking protection under section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of  Rights & Full Participation) Act 1995 since the year 2002.

Brief history
 
While serving in the Railways, in the year 1998, Ms. Fancy Babu suffered transverse myelopathy (inflammation of spinal cord) at D4 level, which eventually resulted in complete paralysis confining her to bed. In 2002, she proposed to retire voluntarily and the Indian Railways accepted it. In 2009, having come to know of the beneficial provisions of benefit of Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995, the employee approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, Ernakulam Branch seeking reinstatement and extension of benefits under the Act in OA/49/2009. The Tribunal, allowed the original application, setting aside the order or retirement and directed the employee’s reinstatement with effect from 15.02.2002. But Railways went against it before the High Court in  WP(C) No. 15871 of 2010 [click here to read the judgement dt 25 Aug 2014], wherein the said order was confirmed by the High Court by dismissing the appeal preferred by the Railways. 

Facts leading to instant case
 
However, in the year 2015, Ms. Fancy Babu had to again approach CAT  & file MA No. 180 of 2015 under Rule 24 of the CAT (Procedure) Rules 1987 complaining that the Tribunal’s order, as has been confirmed by this Court, has not been implemented by the Indian Railways.  Ms. Babu cited Kunal Singh v. Union of India (2003) 4 SCC 524 and Bhagwan Dass and another v. Punjab State Electricity Board (2008) 1 SCC 579 on protections available to employees under Section 47 of the Act.

The Tribunal, treating it as a special case, held that the employee need not report to office to receive her salary and it directed the employer to explore the possibility of ‘voluntarily’ retiring the employee with all service benefits. 

The Indian Railways again preferred an appeal  OP (CAT).No. 182 of 2016 titled Union of India and Ors Vs. Ms. Fancy Babu, before the Kerala High Court against this order of the Tribunal.  The contention put forth by the Indian Railways was that that since it is in trust of public money; it would be against the public interest to let a person draw salary without her discharging any function—without even attending the office. On the part of employee, it was urged that, where an employee has been totally incapacitated and has been rendered immobile, it is inequitable and unconscionable to compel the employee to attend office, much less discharge functions. 

Dismissing the challenge against the CAT order, the division bench comprising Justices PR Ramachandra Menon and Dama Seshadri Naidu, observed: “Given the modesty of women, the employer, still, expects a crippled woman employee to visit the work place, and, if necessary, discharge the functions to be assigned to her—all this with a urinary catheter permanently fixed and also with bowel incontinence: her modesty exposed and privacy invaded.” 

Strongly worded judgement authored by Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu discusses judicial recognition of human dignity in various countries. The bench also observed that employer’s insistence that she should physically mark her attendance daily in office violates her privacy. “The doctrine of dignity takes into its fold ‘privacy’, too, for it is a facet of a woman’s dignity,” the court held. “The employer seems to have understood that keeping an employee on the rolls, as if she had been in service, must mean that she should perform the ritual of attending office. We are afraid it is misplaced, if not perverse,” the bench said. 

 Dismissing the appeal and upholding the CAT order, the bench remarked: “Here is a conflict, as it seems, between the employee’s constitutional right—right to dignity and privacy—and the employer’s right—right to compel an employee to discharge the allotted functions. Need we say, it is the constitutional right that prevails? Nevertheless, we hasten to add, it may be a constitutional canon but needs the facts to justify it. Here, the facts, we think, justify this conclusion.”

Click here to read the judgement  dated 03 Oct 2016 in OP (CAT).No. 182 of 2016 titled Union of India and Ors Vs. Ms. Fancy Babu passed by the Kerala High Court.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kerala HC: Tax Exemption on Vehicle for disabled is financial privilege different from a Right [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,
A double bench of the Kerala High Court has ruled that a cap on tax exemption on purchase value of vehicles by persons with disabilities can not be termed as discriminatory. The division bench comprising of Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu opined  that the exemption made by the Government in the instant case, was in the nature of concession to persons with disabilities. And this exemption being a part of financial incentive, the Government was well within its powers to impose suitable conditions.

Brief Brackground  of the case

The Government, had by a notification, G.O. (MS) No. 16/98/Tran., dated 31.03.1998, granted a tax exemption for certain motor vehicles, including the luxury cars, being purchased by differently abled persons. However by a subsequent amendment, the Government had imposed a limit to the cap of Rs.5,00,000/- ,on the value of such vehicles entitled to such tax exemption.

Appellant, a person with 100% disability and a wheel chair user purchased a car of a value exceeding Rs. 5,00,000/. He argued that his son was also disabled being mentally retarded, a bigger car of a value more than 5,00,000/- cap was required to manage the daily activities of the family. He contended that limiting the cap on value of vehicles entitled to tax exemption for use by disabled, violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India. 

His writ petition in this regard, before the single bench was dismissed. Aggrieved by the same, he approached the division bench in an appeal.  Dismissing the writ appeal, the division bench observed:- “Be it a classification of discrimination in terms of Article 14 of the Constitution, it applies vis-a-vis the right that has been constitutionally consecrated. In that context, legion are the precedents that the classification or discrimination shall pass the judicial muster as regards the reasonableness or non-arbitrariness.” 

Judgement

The bench opined, “In the present instance, it is only a concession the Government has conferred on physically challenged persons. It being a financial incentive, the Government is well within its powers to impose suitable conditions. In other words, a privilege being entirely different from a right, a Fundamental Right at that, we are of the opinion that the contention of the learned counsel as regards discrimination or unreasonableness does not apply.” 



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kerala HC quashes HPCL's stipulation denying distributorship on groud of blindness [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

In a writ petition W.P.(C).No.29046/2013 titled Baby P. Versus M/s Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, the Honorable Kerala High Court vide its judgement dated 30 May 2016 has quashed the stipulation that ‘totally blind person is ineligible’ for LPG distributorship as violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India.

The petitioner, P. Baby of Thiruvananthapuram, a totally blind person, applied for LPG Distributorship at Kodiyathoor in Kollam under S.C.(C.C) category. But his application was rejected by the respondent on two grounds, one of them being that a ‘totally blind person’ was ineligible to apply for LPG distributorship & the other being lack of own space for operating the agency. The petitioner had submitted that he was willing to take on rent adequate space to run the agency.

Quashing a part of the norms formulated by the petroleum company that allowed denying distributorship to persons who are completely blind, the court held that it amounts to violation of the constitutional right to equality before law and denies equal opportunity to blind persons.

In the judgment, the court said if a disability doesn't prevent a person from performing a job, such a disability cannot be the reason for denying the job. Denying a job citing disability can only be allowed if the disability prevents the person from performing the functions associated with the job. Denial of jobs citing disability becomes necessary only in special circumstances such as driving, the court said. 

The petroleum company had contended that if a blind person such as the petitioner is granted LPG distributorship, he won't be able to inspect complaints related to cylinders and that inspection of cylinders to rectify complaints is a job that requires maintenance of the highest safety standards. However, the court said those who formed the norms ousting blind persons completely from grant of distributorships are unaware of the fact that they are able to perform such tasks that require a high degree of specificity. 

Delivering the judgment, Justice Muhammed Mustaque, opined that the above stipulation of classification  was unreasonable, since it  had no nexus with the purpose sought to be achieved. The bench opined:- “The classification in the case in hand appears to have been made based on the broad generalization that the Distributorship can be run only by persons of certain abilities. Such a classification ex facie appears to be unreasonable and unsustainable. Though, the object of such prescription appears to be that in order to carry out day-to-day affairs, constant vision of the Distributors is required. The vision of eye sight, in fact, has nothing to do with the functions being discharged by the Distributors. A blind person is also endowed with a vision. Though, he cannot physically see an activity, with his insight vision he can run a Distributorship. Therefore, the object of classification must have a nexus with the purpose and intent to be achieved.

The modern technological advantages and improvement of social conditions of the blind cannot be ignored while considering the functional duties attached with Distributorship.” The court further elaborated its stand, by employing the Doctrine of strict scrutiny developed by American courts, wherein the general presumption available for a statute,  on its validity cannot be invoked for an executive action, but the onus is cast on the proponent of the classification to establish its constitutionality.

The Court thereupon proceeded, to determine the constitutionality of the stipulation and whether the same   causes reverse discrimination. Answering the query in affirmative the court ruled:-“The blind persons cannot be treated as a separate class except for affirmative action or for the purpose of functional duty attached with an office or post. They are equally competent and have all competitive and cognitive skills similar to the able bodied persons except lacking visionary functions. Therefore, they can be treated as a separate class for the purpose of affirmative actions or for any other purpose relating to the functional competence of the duties attached to the post/office.

As has been noted above, the doctrine of scrutiny casts a duty on the policy makers to justify discrimination and not otherwise. In this case, absolutely no materials have been placed before this Court to justify classification.” Terming the stipulation as violative of Article 14, the court observed:- “The equal opportunities for a blind person cannot be negated unless the functions that have to be discharged by him intrinsically, cannot be separated from his disability, such as persons like drivers or such other functionaries who may require vision for carrying out the function. A blind person would be also able to discharge the same functions as that of an able bodied person without any impediment as far as LPG Distributorship is concerned. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the stipulation in the Brochure that a “totally blind person is ineligible” is violative of Art.14 of the Constitution. Accordingly, the clause as above is set aside.”

Media stories  

Times of India - Disability not a bar for jobs they can perform: HC

Friday, January 8, 2016

Kerala High Court insists the 3% reservation computation from 1996 [Judgement Included]

Dear Friends,

A good clarification comes from the Kerala High Court. A double bench comprising Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Anu Sivaraman while hearing on 06 Jan 2016, wednesday, has dismissed a Writ Appeal No. 362 of 2015 titled Kerala Public Service Commission Vs. E. Dineshan, filed by the Kerala Public Service Commission seeking to quash the Single Judge order in WP(C).No. 27234 of 2011.

The Single Judge Justice A.V.Ramakrishna Pillai had  ordered that the reservation has to be computed from the date of enactment of legislation i.e. 1996 and not from the date of a Govt. order. The single judge had quashed the govt. notification to the extent it restricted the benefit of 3% reservation of handicapped persons mandated under Section 33 of the Act from 1.2.2010 onwards.

To read the Single Judge order in WP(C).No. 27234 of 2011 click here:

 WP(C).No. 27234 of 2011 (PDF file)
 WP(C).No. 27234 of 2011 (Word File)

Here is a related new from Express news

Kerala HC Upholds Order on Jobs for Physically-Challenged
By Express News Service Published: 07th January 2016 06:00 AM

KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday upheld the order of the Single Bench declaring that handicapped persons are entitled to get three percent of vacancies in the post of assistant grade II/clerk/junior clerk/cashier from 1996 while making appointment to public sector undertakings.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Anu Sivaraman issued the order while dismissing an appeal filed by the Kerala Public Service Commission seeking to quash the Single Judge order. The Single Judge had also directed the Kerala State Electricity Board, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Kerala State Financial Enterprises and Kerala Headload Workers Welfare Fund Board to report all existing vacancies to enable the PSC to advise candidates from the shortlist. The commission contended that the vacancies which had arisen during the validity of the rank list could only be filled. And the backlog vacancies could be filled only through a special recruitment drive.

The single judge had also quashed the state government order clarifying that the reservation of three per cent for disabled persons could be implemented only from February 1, 2010. The petitioner submitted that three per cent vacancies had to be reserved for the handicapped persons in terms of Sections 32 and 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

The Bench said that the single judge verdict was in accordance with the principles laid down by the Supreme Court judgement in implementing reservation available to physically handicapped persons.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kerala High Court: Non-consideration of VH candidate by Kannur University illegal

Terming the non-consideration of VH candidate and appointment of another candidate on the post reserved for persons with Disabilities as illegal, High Court has directed the Kannur University to appoint the visually impaired petitioner within two months.


HC to the aid of visually challenged woman

KOCHI, June 9, 2015
K.S. SUDHI

The High Court of Kerala has come to the support of Prasannakumari, a visually challenged woman from Chottanikkara, who appeared for an interview to a post of lecturer in law reserved for disabled persons in Kannur University.

Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar of the High Court ordered Kannur University to consider the suitability of Ms. Prasannakumari “for the post notified by treating her as a candidate who has the necessary age qualification for the post and is otherwise eligible for the post.”

The court also ordered the university to complete the aforesaid exercise within two months.

In her writ petition, the 40-year-old woman stated that she applied for the post of lecturer in law, reserved for the physically challenged, in 2008 and appeared for the interview on October 5, 2011.

Later, she received information that another woman had been appointed to the post.

The petitioner approached the court to quash the appointment and direct the university to consider her for the post.

Allowing the petition, the court held that the “action of the university in not considering the suitability of the petitioner for the post of lecturer in law, under the quota earmarked for the physically challenged candidates, is clearly illegal.”

The court also declared illegal the appointment of another candidate to the post that was intended for physically challenged candidates, consequent to a finding that no such candidate was available.

The appointment of another candidate as the lecture in law was also annulled by the court.

Source:  The Hindu