Showing posts with label Supreme Court of India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court of India. Show all posts

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Supreme Court says Reservation not a Fundamental Right on pleas for OBC Quota in TN Medical Colleges

Dear Colleagues,

Hon'ble Supreme Court bench headed by Justice L Nageshwara Rao today expressed that the reservation of seats to certain communities was not a Fundamental Right and refused to act on a petition filed by all political parties from Tamil Nadu seeking 50% OBC reservation in the all-India NEET seats surrendered by states.

It was argued that the Union Ministry for HRD and the Tamil Nadu State government were not following the state policy on reservations in filling up seats surrendered by states in NEET, including admissions for undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, dental and diploma courses in medicine in private and government colleges.

Justice LN Rao lauded the sentiment behind the move, which had parties of all shades from the state on the same page, as “unusual” for Tamil Nadu  and said “We appreciate the concern of all political parties for the welfare of Backward Classes. But reservation is not a Fundamental Right.”

"Right to reservation is not a fundamental right. That's the law today," remarked Justice Rao, as the bench took up petitions claiming violation of fundamental rights by not keeping seats reserved in the medical colleges in Tamil Nadu for its OBC students.

Petitioners argued that  OBC reservations had been introduced after a long political fight but was being denied to the affected sections in the state and insisted that non-implementation of such reservations in the state amounted to violation of Fundamental Rights of its residents.

However the Hon'ble Supreme Court  remained unimpressed with such submissions, and questioned how a petition under Article 32 could be maintainable when there is no fundamental right to have reservation benefits.

"Whose fundamental rights are being violated? Article 32 is available only for violation of fundamental rights." expressed the Bench.

When argued that the premise of the cases are violation of the law on reservation by the Tamil Nadu government,  Hon'ble Court asked the petitioners to approach the Madras High Court saying “You should withdraw it and go to the high court. You are only interested in 50% reservation in Tamil Nadu.”

It is pertinent to mention that in February 2020, the apex court had held there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in public jobs and no court can order a state government to provide for reservation to SC/STs.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Supreme Court says people above 50% of hearing and visual disability can not perform as judge! [Judgement included]

Dear Colleauges,


However, a Supreme Court bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph on 22 Jan 2019 in the case titled V. Surendra Mohan vs. State of Tamil Nadu, shattered all my progressive writings and efforts to see more blind judges in India. The bench upheld the Tamil Nadu State’s policy of restricting the eligibility of blind and deaf candidates for the reserved posts of 'civil judge' to those with 40-50% of their respective disabilities. The SC Bench held,   "A judicial officer in a state has to possess reasonable limit of the faculties of hearing, sight and speech in order to hear cases and write judgments and, therefore, stipulating a limit of 50% disability in hearing impairment or visual impairment as a condition to be eligible for the post is a legitimate restriction i.e. fair, logical and reasonable  and that it does not contravene any of the provisions of the Disabilities Act 1995 or any other statutory provision."

I have seen judges's inherent biases and pre-conceived notions about disabling conditions often reflected in their judgements referring to persons with disabilities as unfortunate, crippled, wheelchair bound. This shows their lack of knowledge on disabling conditions and disability rights, however, this judgement has left me totally shaken. A common man's ignorance is pardonable, but for MyLords, whose pen has the ability to impact fate of millions of Indians with disabilities, it can be devastating for the hopes of many of them. The judges need to be well read and aware about the evolving capabilities of persons with disabilities with the advent of technology and science and the concept of reasonable accommodation that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provide. It is easier to label some one as 'incompetent' than set your own house in order. That is what the judiciary has done through this judgement despite the post of a judge identified as suitable to be held by a blind person by the Expert Committee constituted  by govt. of India, a bench renders them unsuitable!. Technically the bench should have refrained from stepping in to the shoes of the Expert Committee.

In the instant case, a person with seventy (70) percent blindness was denied appointment as a judge because he was more than fifty (50) percent threshold, the specified outer limit set by the Tamil Nadu State. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion in the case that persons with more than the specified range of blindness are not eligible because they cannot perform functions of a judge!

In the background that several blind lawyers and judges are functioning well and the post is also identified as suitable for persons with disabilities by an Expert Committee under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 and that the Act makes no restrictions of degree of  percentage of disabilities for providing job reservations and other benefits etc which are equally available to all persons above 40% disabilities, this judgement looks absurd.  Instead of holding that differentiation based on extent of blindness is invalid and working towards facilitating accessibility of ICT, processes and reasonable accommodations for judges with blindness, the Court decided to justify the decision of the Government and the Madras High Court, which took a stand that completely blind persons cannot perform the so called strenuous tasks of reading, writing, communicating, examining witnesses, following procedures, advising advocates, etc.

Background of the case

In 2012, the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission received a requisition from the State Government for filling up the vacancy posts of Civil Judge. The Commission wrote a letter to both the State Government as well as the High Court proposing to notify the percentage of disability as 40%-50% for partially blind and partially deaf for selection. The High Court communicated its approval to the aforesaid proposal which was also consented to, by the State of Tamil Nadu. The TNPC subsequently went on to publish the notification.

V. Surendra Mohan applied for the role of civil judge, however, his application was rejected on the ground that he was 70% blind (instead of below 50%). He challenged this decision in the Madras High Court upon which he was permitted to sit for the interview. Following his interview, Mohan’s application was again rejected. As a result, V. Surendra Mohan filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court. In 2015, the High Court held that the TNPC’s decision was lawful as it was in line with the State’s policy.

In 2019, Mohan appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the rejection of his application as well as the policy on the basis of which his application was rejected, alleging it as arbitrary and unjustified.

The Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph rejected this submission. It remarked that “a judicial officer in a State has to possess reasonable limit of the faculties of hearing, sight and speech in order to hear cases and write judgments and, therefore, stipulating a limit of 50% disability in hearing impairment or visual impairment as a condition to be eligible for the post is a legitimate restriction”.

The Supreme Court’s view that a totally blind person cannot function as a judge is trashed by live examples of  several successful blind judges in India and beyond. Accessible work place, computers with screen reading softwares, pleadings and documents in accessible format and reasonable accommodations is what is needed for their inclusion and this makes so many lawyers and judges do wonderfully well in their workplace.

Surprisingly, neither the State government or the High Court nor the Supreme Court have given any reasons as to justification of  50% disability cut-off when Persons with Disabilities Act makes so such distinction. No empirical evidence or research has been put forward to support that beyond the 50% threshold, a person would not be able to effectively perform his duties as a judge.  Supreme Court blindly relies on the government wisdom on this 50% cut-off, without questioning its scientific basis. It is also unclear as to how an advertisement by TNPSC pursuant to a “letter” from the government attained the status of an overriding legal norm. This matter wasn't referred to by the State to the Experts Committee. Decision was taken by babus based on their own whims and fancies and since it affected judiciary, the court also felt safe as they had not to change any infrastructure to accommodate a blind judge in their system. It is almost another level of apartheid visible in the present order. 

The present judgement also literally backtracks its own judgement dated 22 January 2019 wherein the Hon'ble Supreme Court had set deadlines to make public places accessible to persons with visual impairment. It had expressed that “it becomes imperative to provide such facilities so that these persons also are ensured level playing field and not only they are able to enjoy life meaningfully, they contribute to the progress of the nation as well.”  Instead of providing level playing field, this judgement deprives blind candidates from their established legal right  arbitrarily. This order is a black spot on the image of Indian Supreme Court which has otherwise been very proactive for the rights of marginalised communities and has always batted for their inclusion in constitutional spirit. Therefore, this needs to be remedied soon in coming days.

Read the judgement in PDF below in V. Surendra Mohan vs. State of Tamil Nadu, Civil Appeal No. of 83 of 2019:



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Supreme Court of India asks compliance report of new RPwDAct 2016 in 12 weeks

Dear Colleagues,

Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has, in a major move to ensure speedy justice to persons with disabilities, has passed directions to implement the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 enforced by the Govt. of  India on 19 April 2017. In an interlocutory application filed by the petitioner in Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation vs. Union of India and Another, reported as (2014) 14 SCC 383, and on the application filed by intervener "Sambhavana Organisation",  the bench of  Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar passed the directions to all the States and Union Territories to file compliance report within 12 weeks on the Act of 2016.

The Intervener, Sambhavana Organisation - a self help group of persons with disabilities had also filed an application citing examples of over seven Universities that were discriminating against persons with Blindness and Vision Impairments while filing up various teaching and non-teaching posts. The intervener also cited instances that UGC that funds these universities has not taken any action on implementation of the provisions of the Disabilities Act particularly the reservation in employment and successive employment notification systemically failed to give the rightful representation to the stakeholders with visual disabilities.

The bench observed, "The 2016 Act visualizes a sea change and conceives of actualization of the benefits engrafted under the said Act. The whole grammar of benefit has been changed for the better, and responsibilities of many have been encompassed. In such a situation, it becomes obligatory to scan the anatomy of significant provisions of the Act and see that the same are implemented. The laudable policy inherent within the framework of the legislation should be implemented and not become a distant dream. Immediacy of action is the warrant."

The bench referred to certain provisions to highlight the salient features of the Act of 2016 and stressed that more rights have been conferred on the disabled persons and more categories have been added. That apart, access to justice, free education, role of local authorities, National fund and the State fund for persons with disabilities have been created. The 2016 Act is noticeably a sea change in the perception and requires a march forward look with regard to the persons with disabilities and the role of the States, local authorities, educational institutions and the companies. The statute operates in a broad spectrum and the stress is laid to protect the rights and provide punishment for their violation. 

The Court directed, "When the law is so concerned for the disabled persons and makes provision, it is the obligation of the law executing authorities to give effect to the same in quite promptitude. The steps taken in this regard shall be concretely stated in the compliance report within the time stipulated. When we are directing the States, a duty is cast also on the States and its authorities to see that the statutory provisions that are enshrined and applicable to the cooperative societies, companies, firms, associations and establishments, institutions, are scrupulously followed. The State Governments shall take immediate steps to comply with the requirements of the 2016 Act and file the compliance report so that this Court can appreciate the progress made. The Bench directed the SC registry to send its order to chief secretaries of all states and directed them to take immediate steps to comply with its direction by 16 Aug 2017.

The Court directed that compliance report to be filed by the States shall be supplied to the learned counsel for the petitioner (Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation), learned counsel for the Union of India as well as to the learned counsel for the applicant/intervenor (Sambhavana Organisation) so that they can assist the Court.

A copy of the Order Dated 25 April 2017 in matter titled Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation vs. Union of India and Another can be accessed here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Supreme Court of India wants an Expert Panel To Determine What Areas of Medical Practice Can Colour-blind MBBS Aspirants Study based on international best practices [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

In a progressive order, the Hon'ble Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar has directed the Medical Council of India to constitute a committee of experts to look into the areas of practice that MBBS aspirants with colour blindness could indulge in. 

The bench passed these orders while hearing a Civil Appeal No. 4394 of 2017 (arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.30772 of 2015), filed by two MBBS aspirants, who were declared ineligible for admissions at the stage of counseling in 2015, as they had partial colour blindness. 

The petitioners had challenged the decision of the committee that refused them admission because of their colour-blindness before the High Court of Tripura and  Agartala, contending that there existed no regulation framed by the Medical Council of India, under the Medical Council Act, 1956, debarring them from seeking admission. The high court had, however, refused to interfere, and had dismissed their petition. 

Before the Hon'ble SC, the petitioner's counsel contended that it was “obligatory” on the part of the Medical Council of India to take a “progressive measure so that an individual suffering from CVD may not feel like an alien to the concept of equality, which is the fon juris of our Constitution”. Amicus Curiae Mr. Viswanathan urged that a complete ban on the admission of individuals suffering from CVD to MBBS course would violate conferment of equal opportunities and fair treatment. To buttress this submission, he had made reference to provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, to which India is a signatory. 

The Amicus Curiae Mr. Viswanathan had urged that as colour blindness is not considered as a disability under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 nor it is a disability under the recently notified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, the nature and severity of colour blindness and the disciplines they can practise has to be given a re-look.

The defendants, on the other hand, had submitted that since the complete diagnosis and prognosis of a disease or disorder may depend upon colour detection, there is requirement for restriction in the field of practice of an individual with colour blindness in this country.

Considering rival submissions, the court made reference to a judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of Dr Kunal Kumar v Union of India and others, and also to a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court in Parmesh Pachar Vs. Convener, Central Undergradutate Admission Board. While the Delhi HC had concurred with the view that people with colour blindness may not be able to pursue certain courses or disciplines, the Rajasthan HC had opined that students suffering from disabilities cannot be debarred from seeking admissions..

The apex court, however, wished neither to lean in favour of the view of Delhi High Court nor generally accept the perception of Rajasthan High Court. It, thus, directed an assessment by an independent expert committee, and observed, “Total exclusion for admission to medical courses without any stipulation in which they really can practice and render assistance would tantamount to regressive thinking. The march of science, apart from our constitutional warrant and  values, commands inclusion and not exclusion. That is the way a believer in human rights should think”.

The bench directed that the expert committee shall also  concentrate on diagnostic test for progress and review of the disorder and what are the available prosthetics aids to  assist CVD medical practitioners and what areas of practice could they undertake without difficulty with these aids. It further said the committee shall include representatives of the Medical Council of India, and experts from genetics, ophthalmology, psychiatry and medical  education, who shall be from outside the members of the Medical Council of India. It has been directed to submit a report to the court within three months. The matter has been listed for July 11.

Writing the order the court expressed, "Human being is a magnificent creation of the Creator and that magnificence should be exposed in a humane, magnanimous and all-inclusive manner so that all tend to feel that they have their deserved space. Total exclusion for admission to medical courses without any stipulation in which they really can practise and render assistance would tantamount to regressive thinking. When we conceive of global phenomenon and universal brotherhood, efforts are to be made to be within the said parameters. The march of science, apart from our constitutional warrant and values, commands inclusion and not exclusion. That is the way a believer in human rights should think.

The bench has directed the Committee of Experts to submit a report to the court within three months, while fixing the next listing on 11 July 2017.

Click here to access the judgement dated 23 Mar 2017 in Civil Appeal No. 4394 of 2017 (arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.30772 of 2015) titled Pranay Kumar Podder Vs. State of Tripura and Others. [PDF size 151 KB Opens in google drive]

Thursday, January 26, 2017

SC says Reservations & Relaxations for disabled - a matter of Govt. Policy; Rejects Delhi & Madras HC view on number of attempts at CSE [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

While hearing Civil Appeal No. 858 of 2017 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 21587 of 2013), titled Union of India & Ors Vs. M. Selvakumar & Anr., a bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court comprising  Sh. Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Sh. Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement dated 24 January 2017 has observed, "It is not in the domain of the courts to embark upon an inquiry as to whether a particular public policy is wise and acceptable or whether the better policy could be evolved. The court can only interfere if the policy framed is absolutely capricious and non-informed by reasons, or totally arbitrary, offending the basic requirement of the Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution."

The bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi set aside the judgement of the Madras High Court and the view taken by Delhi High Court that "increasing the number of attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to General Category from 4 to 7 with effect from the 2007 Examination and not proportionally increasing the number of attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to OBC Category from 7 to 10, is discriminatory and arbitrary".

Judgement

To read the judgement in Civil Appeal No. 858 of 2017 titled Union of India & Ors Vs. M. Selvakumar & Anr  in portable document format (PDF) click here, and in Notepad format click here.

Background

It is pertinent to note that the Madras High Court in its order passed on 24.01.2012 in Writ Petition (C) No. 18705 of 2010 titled M. Selvakumar versus Central Administrative Tribunal and Others had discussed in detail clause-3 (iv) of the Notification for CSE 2008 and specifically discussed the provision which states that physically handicapped will get as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the condition that physically handicapped candidates belonging to the general category shall be eligible for 07 attempts. The High Court had further observed that the number of attempts for the physically handicapped persons in the general category has been increased from four to seven. However, the same benefit has not been proportionally extended to the PH candidates in the OBC community. Considering this to be inconsistent with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India the petitioner M Selvakumar was given relaxation in the number of attempts as had been granted to the PH candidates belonging to general category. However, there were no specific direction of the Madras High Court to quash clause-3 of the notification nor there was any direction to the respondents to make necessary changes in the Rules for future examinations.

The SC bench said "the horizontal reservation and relaxation for Physically Handicapped Category candidates for Civil Services Examination, is a matter of Governmental policy and the Government after considering the relevant materials have extended relaxation and concessions to the Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to the Reserved Category as well as General Category.

The verdict came on appeal filed by the Union of India challenging two judgements of the high courts which allowed Physically Handicapped students of OBC to avail 10 attempts instead of 7 attempts in the Civil Services Examination.

Both the High Court's had held that since the attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to General Category have been increased from 4 to 7 with effect from 2007 Civil Services Examination, there should be proportionate increase in attempts to be taken by Physically Handicapped Candidates belonging to the OBC Category. 

The apex court said when the attempts for exams of Physically Handicapped candidates of OBC Category as well as those of in General Category are made equal, there is no question of discrimination as the candidate belonging to OBC Category has already been given ten years relaxation in age which give them a relaxation of three more years.

"The present case is not a case of treating unequals as equal. It is a case of extending concessions and relaxations to the physically handicapped candidates belonging to general category as well as physically handicapped belonging to OBC category. Physically handicapped category is a category in itself, a person who is physically handicapped, be it physically handicapped of a general category or OBC category, suffering from similar disability has to be treated alike in extending the relaxation and concessions," noted the bench in its judgment.

Both being provided 7 attempts to appear in Civil Services Examination, no discrimination or arbitrariness can be found in the above scenario", the bench concluded.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Frame Policy for Compensation to Disabled Rape Survivor - SC [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices MY Eqbal and Arun Mishra, while hearing a Criminal Appeal 884/2015 filed by the accused challenging his conviction and sentence of 7 Yrs rigorous imprisonment (RI) u/s 376 IPC,  has directed all the State Governments to formulate Uniform Schemes for the Victims of Sexual Assaults. 

The rape survivor  in the case is a blind and illiterate girl, who was subjected to sexual intercourse on the promise of marriage by the accused. After upholding the Conviction and Sentence on the Accused, the Court examined the question as to ‘whether in the facts and circumstances of the case the prosecutrix is entitled to victim compensation and, if so, to what extent?’ 

In addition to the the Victim Compensation Scheme of Chhattisgarh state, the the hon'ble Court also examined the Schemes notified by other State as well. After examining the schemes, the Court held, "Perusal of the aforesaid victim compensation schemes of different States and the Union Territories, it is clear that no uniform practice is being followed in providing compensation to the rape victim for the offence and for her rehabilitation. This practice of giving different amount ranging from Rs.20,000/- to Rs.10,00,000/- as compensation for the offence of rape under section 357A needs to be introspected by all the States and the Union Territories. They should consider and formulate a uniform scheme specially for the rape victims in the light of the scheme framed in the State of Goa which has decided to give compensation up to Rs.10,00,000/-"

The Court observed, “While going through different schemes for relief and rehabilitation of victims of rape, we have also come across one Scheme made by the National Commission of Women (NCW) on the direction of this court in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum vs. Union of India and Ors. [Writ Petition (Crl) No. 362/93], whereby this Court inter alia had directed the National Commission for Women to evolve a “scheme” so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape. This scheme has been revised by the NCW on 15th April 2010. The application under this scheme will be in addition to any application that may be made under Section 357, 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure as provided in paragraph 22 of the Scheme. Under this scheme maximum of Rs.3,00,000/- (Three lakhs) can be given to the victim of the rape for relief and rehabilitation in special cases like the present case where the offence is against an handicapped woman who required specialized treatment and care” 

The Court passed the following directions :-

1) All the States and Union Territories shall make all endeavour to formulate a uniform scheme for providing victim compensation in respect of rape/sexual exploitation with the physically handicapped women as required under the law taking into consideration the scheme framed by the State of Goa for rape victim compensation; 

2) So far as this case is concerned, the respondent-State shall pay a sum of Rs.8,000/- per month as victim compensation to the victim who is physically handicapped, i.e. blind, till her life time.

To read the judgement click here: 

Related News coverage




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

SC directs States & UTs to consider Acid Attack Survivors in Disability List [Judgement Included]

Dear Friends,

On Monday i.e. 07th December 2015, the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, while hearing WP(C) No. 867/2013 titled Parivartan Kendra Versus Union of India and Others,  directed all states to treat "Acid Survivors" as disabled persons and extend job reservation and social welfare schemes. While it's good thought to extend the benefits of this benevolent legislation to mainstream and empower acid survivors, will there be corresponding increase in the %age of reservation? Which disability group would give up their share ? 

A bench of Justices M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan said that steps must be taken to bring such victims to the national mainstream and putting them in the category of disabled person would be a step in that direction. The victims can claim benefits under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act if they are brought in the disability list.

The central law- The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 provides for reservation in jobs etc to the tune of 3% where 1% each is reserved for Visually Impaired (both low vision and Blind), Orthopedic Disabilities (including cerebral palsy) and Hearing Impaired. There are several other categories defined in the definition of a person with disability in the Act viz. Leprosy Cured, Mental Illness, Mental Retardation etc. but the reservation is not extended to any other categories except the above three. The judgement is silent on the process of granting such reservation as the law currently has no such provision. The direction in the last para is :

"Disposing of the present writ petition, we additionally direct all the States and Union Territories to consider the plight of such victims and take appropriate steps with regard to inclusion of their names under the disability list."

Let us see how the States and UTs respond to this direction coming from none other than top court of the country. But one thing is certain, in today's scenario, no disability group would be willing to let go their share!



Judgement
Here is a media coverage from Times of India: 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Supreme Court on filling up of backlog Disability quota (in promotion?)

A unique example of how selected media reporting can create grapevines.  I have learnt that the proceedings in the court were completely different from what has been reported here by the TNN.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court was actually hearing a contempt petition filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the Central Govt for complying with the court's October 8, 2013, regarding filling up of 15000 vacant posts. SC dismissed the plea saying that implementation is under way and accepted Center's response that it will be completed by 31st March 2016.

In this context, While disposing of the plea, SC clarified that since the Govt. of India has committed itself to fill up the entire backlog of vacancies numbering about over 15,000 by way of a special recruitment drive in terms of office memorandum dt. 22.5.15, the contempt proceedings will not be initiated. 

The court said the question of reservation in promotion was not there for adjudication since its October 2013 judgment was only in respect of filling up the vacancies reserved for physically disabled people at the entry point, and could not be read into promotion. The story made out thus is unnecessary reading between the lines.

The bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said this while giving clarification on its October 2013 judgment by which the court had held that the 3 percent reservation for physically challenged people would depend on the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength.

The court said its order has to read in the context of two questions it had framed and addressed in its October 8 judgment. And these two questions were:

(a) First was about the manner of computing 3 percent reservation for people with disabilities as per Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 Act.

(b) The second question that the court had answered in the October 8 judgment was whether the reservation should be post-based or vacancy-based.

I feel the Hon'ble Bench  thus did not sit to review or clarify its earlier order on the issue of reservation in promotion for persons with disabilities. In fact after the said judgement of October 08, 2013,  the Hon'ble SC upheld the orders of Bombay High court, High court of Delhi and High court of Allahabad laying down that Section 33 includes reservation in promotion as well by way of various judgments particularly judgments dt. 10.12.13 in Civil Appeal No. 9473/2011 titled as Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Manoj Gupta, judgment dt. 12.9.14 in C.C. No.13344/2014 and judgment dt. 27.2.15 in civil Appeal No.5914/2015 titled as Union of India Vs. National Confederation for Development of Disabled and Ors and judgment dt. 20.3.15 in Civil Appeal No.4641/2015 titled as State of U.P. Ors. Vs. Sanjeev Kumar Jain and Ors. dismissing the civil Appeals/ SLPs both of Govt. of India as well as respective State Govts.

Therefore, it is to be clearly understood that if  SC /ST are given the quota in direct recruitment as well as in promotion, the disabled category should not be left out from this benefit under the benevolent legislation whose mandate is equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of those living with disabilities.  The govt should bring out appropriate revised DoPT memo to implement this long pending issue of reservation in promotion for government employees with disabilities.

Here is the TNN reported version that sought to create confusion among the stakeholders :

SC: Differently abled can’t claim quota in promotion

Amit Anand Choudhary,TNN | Sep 2, 2015, 05.36 AM IST


NEW DELHI: Differently abled persons can claim benefit of reservation in government jobs only at the time of appointment and cannot get the benefit of the affirmative policy in promotion, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while clarifying its earlier verdict.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said the apex court's 2013 verdict did not hold that the reservation policy could also be extended to promotion in jobs and stressed that the disabled could claim benefits only at the time of recruitment.

The SC had in 2013 directed the Centre and all state governments to provide three per cent job reservation to disabled persons in all their departments, companies and institutions under Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act which came into force in 1995.

The Centre submitted that the court had not, while passing order for three percent reservation, dealt with the issue of reservation in promotion and the disabled could not be allowed to claim the benefits.

Although the Court had directed that all vacancies under 3% reservation be filled up within three months, the governments failed to comply with the order in the last two years and there are still 10,000 vacant posts in central government. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar assured the court that all vacancies would be filled up by the end of this financial year.

Source: Times of India 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SC directs TN govt to keep a Judge slot for visually impaired candidate


Keep judge slot for 70% blind lawyer, SC tells Tamil Nadu govt
A Subramani, TNN | Jul 18, 2015, 05.54PM IST

CHENNAI: A CBI prosecutor suffering 70% blindness is close to realizing his dream of becoming a judicial magistrate, as the Supreme Court has directed Tamil Nadu government to keep one post of civil judge vacant for him.

An interim order to this effect was passed by a bench of Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S A Bobde on July 10.

Though V Surendra Mohan, 29, of Thiruvotriyur in Chennai got through written examination his name was not shortlisted for viva voce. He filed a writ petition for inclusion in the interview list. As an interim order, the court allowed him to take part in the interview and the result was kept in a sealed envelope. When it was opened after a later order, it was revealed that Surendra Mohan had secured 178 marks out of 400 in written examination, and 38.25 marks out of 60 in viva voce. To a court query, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission said he was well within the zone of consideration and appointment for a civil judge post.

However, he was not considered for appointment since he suffered more than 50% visual disability, whereas a proposed amendment to rules limited the disability between 40% and 50% for eligible candidates.

On June 5, the high court upheld his exclusion saying, "Taking into account the nature of duties to be performed by the civil judge, the government in consultation with the high court, had proposed to restrict the applicability of the benefit of reservation only to those whose disability ranges from 40% to 50%."

Surendra Mohan took the case to the Supreme Court saying the high court "wholly erroneously relied on admittedly a 'proposed amendment' to deprive him of his right to be appointed as a civil judge on the basis of his partial blindness as provided under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995."

The judgment proceeds to reject the petitioner's claim without either an executive order or an amendment coming into force, he said, adding, "without the law having been changed, there was no basis for the judgment at all."

Reiterating that there is no way he could be excluded from the selection process, he said a GO dated April 11, 2005 clearly notified that PB (partially blind) persons are eligible for civil judge post. "The petitioner, who has 70% partial blindness, cannot in any way be excluded from the recruitment, he said, adding that the high court judgment overlooked the overwhelming discrimination in the system against the disabled, and in an egregious step it excludes the only fully eligible blind man."


Monday, July 6, 2015

Visually Impaired Public Prosecutor denied Magistrate post despite clearing Test, approaches SC

Please refer to my earlier post  titled "Committee of Judges decide a VH can not be a Judge in Tamil Nadu" dated 08 June 2015. The said candidate who is already working as a public prosecutor and denied elevation as a magistrate on flimsy grounds of disability, has finally approached the Supreme Court of India. The issue has been covered by Times of India succinctly below:

A 70% blind person rejected for magistrate post despite being selected approach SC
A Subramani,TNN | Jul 6, 2015, 01.06 AM IST

CHENNAI: Perhaps emboldened by the success of significant number of differently-abled people cracking the civil services examination on Saturday, and the case of Beno, the first 100% visually disabled person to be absorbed in IFS, a 70% blind person rejected for magistrate post despite being selected, is now knocking at the Supreme Court doors.

V Surendra Mohan of Tiruvottriyu, who is an assistant public prosecutor of the CBI at present, cracked magistrate selection test, but was denied appointment by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission saying persons with more than 40% visual disability, could not be considered for magistrate's post. When challenged, Madras high court on June 5 upheld the rejection saying: "Taking into account the nature of duties to be performed by a civil judge, government in consultation with the high court, had proposed to restrict the applicability of the benefit of reservation only to those whose disability ranges from 40 per cent to 50 per cent."

The 'proposed amendment', does not deprive the benefit of reservation, but only restricts it to those whose percentage of disability is below 50%,' the high court reasoned.

Questioning the conclusion, Surendra Mohan filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court framing a volley of question of law. He said the high court had erroneously relied on admittedly a 'proposed amendment' to deprive him of his right to be appointed as a civil judge on the basis of his partial blindness as provided under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

Wondering whether the high court could proceed on the basis of a "proposed amendment" while ignoring the law as it stood, the SLP says when there is no other blind candidate available for any of the posts sanctioned, is it legal or equitable at all for the authorities to have relied on an internal correspondence between the government and the high court to ensure that no blind individual was accommodated.

Noting that with 70% blindness, he has been discharging his duties as an assistant public prosecutor, he said there is no legal basis for excluding him from the civil judge post. In a series of recruitment drives over the years, the posts reserved for the blind have gone abegging, Surendra Mohan said, adding: "This year as well, as a result of the illegal action of the authorities, no blind candidate has been recruited, reflecting a complete apathy on their part in discharging obligations placed on them by the Constitution and the laws."

According to an April 11, 2005 government order, for civil judge posts PB (partially blind) persons are eligible, the SLP said. A GO dated August 31, 2012 excludes only those with "complete blindness", and hence with 70% partial blindness he cannot in any way be excluded from the recruitment, Surendra Mohan has said.

Source: Times of India

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transgender is not merely a social or medical issue but a Human Rights issue - Supreme Court

Seldom, our society realizes or cares to realize the trauma, agony and pain which the members of Transgender community (TGs hereafter) undergo, nor appreciates the innate feelings of the members of the Transgender community, especially of those whose mind and body disown their biological sex. Our society often ridicules and abuses the Transgender community and in public places like railway stations, bus stands, schools, workplaces, malls, theatres, hospitals, they are sidelined and treated as untouchables, forgetting the fact that the moral failure lies in the society’s unwillingness to contain or embrace different gender identities and expressions, a mindset which we have to change.

The issue of transgender is not merely a social or medical issue but there is a need to adopt human right approach towards transgenders which may focus on functioning as an interaction between a person and their environment highlighting the role of society and changing the stigma attached to them. TGs face many disadvantages due to various reasons, particularly for gender abnormality which in certain level needs to physical and mental disability. Up till recently they were subjected to cruelty, pity or charity. Fortunately, there is a paradigm shift in thinking from the aforesaid approach to a rights based approach. Though, this may be the thinking of human rights activist, the society has not kept pace with this shift. There appears to be limited public knowledge and understanding of same-sex sexual orientation and people whose gender identity and expression are incongruent with their biological sex. As a result of this approach, such persons are socially excluded from the mainstream of the society and they are denied equal access to those fundamental rights and freedoms that the other people enjoy freely.

The petitioners in this case titled "National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India and others … WP(C) No.400 of 2012 sought a legal declaration of their gender identity than the one assigned to them, male or female, at the time of birth and their prayer is that non-recognition of their gender identity violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Hijras/Eunuchs, who also fall in that group, claim legal status as a third gender with all legal and constitutional protection.

Siding with the petitioner, the court said, "There seems to be no reason why a transgender must be denied of basic human rights which includes Right to life and liberty with dignity, Right to Privacy and freedom of expression, Right to Education and Empowerment, Right against violence, Right against Exploitation and Right against Discrimination. Constitution has fulfilled its duty of providing rights to transgenders. Now it’s time for us to recognize this and to extend and interpret the Constitution in such a manner to ensure a dignified life of transgender people. All this can be achieved if the beginning is made with the recognition that TG as third gender.

The bench clarified that the rule of law is not merely public order. The rule of law is social justice based on public order. The law exists to ensure proper social life. Social life, however, is not a goal in itself but a means to allow the individual to life in dignity and development himself. The human being and human rights underlie this substantive perception of the rule of law, with a proper balance among the different rights and between human rights and the proper needs of society. The substantive rule of law “is the rule of proper law, which balances the needs of society and the individual.” This is the rule of law that strikes a balance between society’s need for political independence, social equality, economic development, and internal order, on the one hand, and the needs of the individual, his personal liberty, and his human dignity on the other. It is the duty of the Court to protect this rich concept of the rule of law.

The bench further said that by recognizing TGs as third gender, this Court is not only upholding the rule of law but also advancing justice to the class, so far deprived of their legitimate natural and constitutional rights. It is, therefore, the only just solution which ensures justice not only to TGs but also justice to the society as well. Social justice does not mean equality before law in papers but to translate the spirit of the Constitution, enshrined in the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy into action, whose arms are long enough to bring within its reach and embrace this right of recognition to the TGs which legitimately belongs to them.

The court thus declared as under:

(1) Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as “third gender” for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament and the State Legislature.

(2) Transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender is also upheld and the Centre and State Governments are directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or as third gender.

(3) We direct the Centre and the State Governments to take steps to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.

(4) Centre and State Governments are directed to operate separate HIV Sero-surveillance Centres since Hijras/ Transgenders face several sexual health issues.

(5) Centre and State Governments should seriously address the problems being faced by  ijras/Transgenders such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, social stigma, etc. and any insistence for SRS for declaring one’s gender is immoral and illegal.

(6) Centre and State Governments should take proper measures to provide medical care to TGs in the hospitals and also provide them separate public toilets and other facilities. 

(7) Centre and State Governments should also take steps for framing various social welfare schemes for their betterment.

(8) Centre and State Governments should take steps to create public awareness so that TGs will feel that they are also part and parcel of the social life and be not treated as untouchables.

(9) Centre and the State Governments should also take measures to regain their respect and place in the society which once they enjoyed in our cultural and social life. 

To access the detailed court judgement click on the link below:

Judgement dated 14 April 2014 in WP(C) No.400 of 2012 titled National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India and others … 

Related Media Coverage:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Welfare Trust Fund for Disabled swells to 223 crore; remains unutilized

The documents submitted in Supreme Court show that the trust has so far has utilised only Rs 18.59 crore towards extending benefits to physically disabled.


Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | March 3, 2014 11:49 pm

A fund created on the order of the Supreme Court for welfare of the disabled has swollen to Rs 223 crore, but not even 10 per cent of it has been utilised in almost a decade now.

The only plan in place, a scholarship scheme for disabled students, is yet to be introduced in any of the union territories or Northeastern states.

In 2004, the court had ordered that the Comptroller and Auditor General set up a trust with the money recovered by it from banks as illegal collection from borrowers. The money, the court said, would be used for the benefit of disabled. The trust was to be managed by the CAG as its chairman, with the finance secretary and law secretary as ex-officio members.

The RBI recently wrote to the under secretary, Ministry of Finance, that Rs 173 crore in all had been deposited in the fund. While 46 commercial banks had deposited Rs 154 crore towards excess interest charged to borrowers, Rs 19.5 crore had been deposited as part of the additional Rs 50 lakh each the banks gave in accordance with the Supreme Court order.

This money, Additional Solicitor General Rakesh Khanna informed a Supreme Court bench led by Justice K S Radhakrishnan recently, has grown to Rs 223 crore along with interest.

However, as the documents submitted in court showed, the trust has so far utilised a meagre Rs 18.59 crore towards according benefits to the physically challenged. Only money allotted for a scholarship scheme has been entirely used, benefiting 1,500 students per year. The number of scholarships has now been raised to 2,000 students per year.

Documents also revealed that no union territory or Northeastern state barring Assam had benefited from the scholarship scheme, which has more male recipients than female.

At a hearing earlier, ASG Khanna had told the court about the recovery of the amount so far and sought some additional orders on issues like merger of banks, or closure of banking operations by some entities, mode of recovery from state finance corporations etc.

The bench, which was hearing a petition filed by Ravi Shankar Bhushan, a disabled person working in an NGO, said it would pass appropriate orders with assistance from the petitioner’s counsel Colin Gonsalves.











Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Failure to implement Disabilities Act makes Madras High Court initiates Contempt Proceedings against Chief Secretary

Hi,

Here is a news coming from Madras High Court. Though the notices of the contempt have been delayed at the request of Advocate General but it indicates the seriousness with which the Court is looking at the continued defiance.

Times of India and The Hindu have covered the stories as below. More soon....

Times of India


A Subramani,TNN | Feb 11, 2014, 01.06 PM IST

CHENNAI: Lambasting top bureaucrats of Tamil Nadu for their failure to furnish data relating to backlog of vacancies for disabled persons in various government departments, the Madras high court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against chief secretary Sheela Balakrishnan and two other officers.

According to the statute, there shall be reservation of 3% of all available vacancies for disabled persons. While the court had passed necessary orders nearly two years ago, the issue gained importance after last month's Supreme Court ruling directing all state governments to set apart 3% of all available vacancies for disabled persons.

Justice S Manikumar, pointing out that at least 23 government departments have not furnished required details of backlog vacancies despite several adjournments and directives, said: "Though repeatedly, this court has issued orders to identify the posts in 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D' categories and consequently, to fill up the posts as expeditiously as possible, the process is on and on and from the materials produced before this court, out of 34 secretarial heads, 140 Heads of Departments, 102 government undertakings, including universities and 54 companies owned and controlled by the government, only 70 HoDs have furnished the details of 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D' categories."

"So far, 50 out of 102 government undertakings and boards, etc., have furnished the details. No clear details have been furnished by about the 54 companies owned and controlled by the government," Justice Manikumar said.

He then said: "This court is constrained to issue contempt notices to Sheela Balakrishnan, chief secretary of Tamil Nadu and head of Monitoring Committee for Differently Abled, P Sivasankaran, secretary of Welfare of Differently Abled department and Manivasan, commissioner for the differently abled, to explain as to why further course of action should not be taken under the Contempt of Courts Act. Registry is directed to issue necessary statutory notices to the above said persons."

However, after advocate-general A L Somayaji requested the court to postpone the issuance of the statutory notice, which would require the personal appearance of the officers concerned, the judge said the officers could make necessary applications if they complied with directions of the high court and the Supreme Court.


The Hindu




CHENNAI, February 12, 2014

K.T. SANGAMESWARAN

Observing that the differently-abled have been taken for a ride by the State government, the Madras High Court has ordered issue of contempt notices to three top officials, including the Chief Secretary, for violating the orders of the High Court and the Supreme Court in the matter of filling up vacancies in ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories by differently-abled persons.

Besides the Chief Secretary, Sheela Balakrishnan, notices were ordered to be issued against the Secretary, Welfare of Differently-Abled Persons Department, P.Sivasankaran and the State Commissioner for the Differently-Abled, Manivasan.

Following the Advocate-General, A.L.Somayaji’s request to postpone the issue of the notice, Justice S.Manikumar ordered that if the officials concerned comply with the Court directions in letter and spirit, they could file necessary applications.

Passing an interim order on three writ petitions filed in 2004, the Judge said the Court had, in April 2012, directed the authorities to identify ‘A’ and ‘B’ posts in government departments, boards, public sector undertakings, corporations, companies owned by the government and educational institutions. Subsequently, the government had issued a G.O. on January 29 last year directing the establishments to identify the posts and to implement the three per cent reservation for the differently-abled.

Mr. Justice Manikumar said no details had been furnished, as to whether the Secretaries had implemented the instructions given.

Though repeatedly the Court issued orders to identify the posts under the four categories and fill up the posts as expeditiously as possible, the process was getting delayed.

Only 50 out of the 102 government undertakings, boards, etc., had furnished the details. No clear details had been furnished about 54 government-owned companies. He said the authorities were seeking adjournments time and again.

During the last hearing, the State Commissioner for the Differently-Abled filed an affidavit taking a different stand altogether and submitted that the whole process should be reworked considering the Tamil Nadu Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Rules.