Showing posts with label The Persons with Disabilities Act. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Persons with Disabilities Act. Show all posts

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]

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gujrat HC Judge, Advocate & Govt Pleader work in tandem to grant appointment to candidate with Cerebral Palsy [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

A single bench of Gujarat High Court has asked the State Govt. to appoint a man with cerebral palsy on the post of Supervisor Instructor Class III in the ITIs.  Quoting from the official video of the "सुगम्य भारत अभियान” i.e. "Accessible India Campaign" a campaign of the Department of Empowerment of persons with disabilities says, “हक़ है बराबरी का, गर्व से जियेंगे ! ” i.e. to say “We have right to equality and we have right to live with honour and dignity”, the court said,  "This is one such case where a person, since has been refused such a right to equality and to lead the life with dignity and with self empowerment, has approached this Court invoking powers under Articles 14, 16 and 226 of Constitution of India.

The petitioner Sudhanshu Upendrabhai Chavda, a person with cerebral palsy (spastic quadriplegia) came to be selected in the process of recruitment on his own merit for the post of Supervisor Inspector(Class III). However, in a meeting between the petitioner and the members of Selection Committee, it was realized that the petitioner was not able to speak and write properly. Therefore, he was not found eligible for the said post on the ground that the post of technical supervisor requires a person to speak clearly/properly and make the subject to be understand well by the trainees.

Petitioner argued that not granting appointment to the petitioner defeats the very objective of the Persons with Disabilities [Equal opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation] Act, 1995 [“Disabilities Act” hereinafter]. It was urged that the court needed to once speak to the petitioner and also keep in mind the decision of the Apex Court rendered in case of Saiyed Bashir -ud-din Qadri Vs. Nazir Ahmed Shah and Ors. in SLP(C) Nos. 10669-70 of 2008 which according to the petitioner was also a story of a person who had a struggle to be self dependent.

The Court after meeting the petitioner in person, found a very favourable impression and on realising the fact that his mental faculty was not in any manner affected despite his condition of cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia, requested the learned Government Pleader to take up the matter with the highest authority after once having a personal talk with him. 

The Govt. pleader accordingly had personal interview with the petitoner and having been convinced thereafter she chose to write to the Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment Department pursuant to the suggestions of the Court. The govt. pleader wrote:

“Upon the direction issued by the Hon'ble Court in the presence of the officers, I have personally also spoken to the petitioner. It appears that on account of cerebral palsy he is suffering from only Locomotor Disability and any other work in the nature of date entry, assessment of papers, preparation of training material etc. may be given to him. In any case the Hon'ble Court has directed the undersigned to speak to the highest authority in the department to find a way out. These are people who have struggled all their lives to achieve degrees and qualification against all odds. They all need to be encouraged. They merely need a government job. Having over come his physical disability, he has attained a Master in Computer Application (M.C.A) degree. The Hon'ble Court has directed that the State ought to consider this and take a sympathetic approach towards him and appoint him on some post in an ITI Institute, which would not be involving communication or speech skills.”

Accordingly, the department agreed to appoint him pursuant to the above communication. The court however, ordered that the petitioner shall be given the appointment order as mentioned hereinabove. If not granted within the stipulated time period, the petitioner shall be at liberty to approach this Court.

Rarely we find such instances where Courts take such interest to support the cause of people with disabilities. We have seen how cases are heard & disposed off mechanically. This deserves mention that in this case, not only the candidate was able, highly educated and full of confidence but the advocate representing the petitioner, judge and the govt. pleader - all worked in tandem to grant the petitioner relief.  

Judgement
To read the PDF judgement dated 28.12.2016 in Special Civil Application No. 17799 of 2016 titled  Sudhanshu Upendrabhai Chavda Vs. State of Gujarat & Ors., click here

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.



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.



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: 


Monday, October 12, 2015

Supreme Court of India fumes at Several states silent on implementation of Disabilities Act

4th Sep, 2015

Bringing into focus the plight of disabled people, the Supreme Court today fumed at several states not filing responses as to steps taken to implement various provisions of the Disability Act.

In April , the apex court had issued notices to the Centre and all states on a plea seeking periodic monitoring of implementation of various provisions of the Disabilities Act. But ten states including Delhi Rajasthan, jharkhand have not yet filed responses.

An angry bench headed by justice Dipak Misra told lawyers representing several states: “let the matter now be posted for October 13. We are giving last chance to all states to file their responses. In the event of further failure strict action will be taken”. The plea states that a majority of citizens belonging to disabled  category have not got any relief even two decades after the rules were passed.

Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation, on whose petition the court has been issuing orders for the welfare of the differently-abled since 1998, had moved an application saying that unless there was an effective monitoring system on the lines of Vineet Narain judgment in which the SC is keeping a tab on investigation of various corruption cases and issuing periodic directions, the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, will merely remain on paper.

Ambar Qamaruddin, the lawyer for the petitioner, pointed out that the court itself had last year observed that only the Centre, some states and the UGC had satisfied it on the implementation of the rules.

A majority of the states were yet to comply with it and thus, the need for a monitoring mechanism.

“Even in last year’s order, the court had said all measures had to be taken ‘positively by the end of 2014’ but nothing had happened,” Qamaruddin submitted.

“Central government, state governments and UTs may be directed to file a quarterly/half yearly status report before the court,” he argued.

The directions pertained to reservation of 1% of identified teaching posts in various schools and colleges for the disabled, jobs in private sectors and PSUs, seats for students in various universities and creating special
facilities for differently-abled persons at public places such as railway stations, bus terminus, airports and in trains, buses and aircraft.

Directing that all measures be taken by the end of 2014, the court had in its order in March, 2014, said: “The beneficial provisions of the 1995 Act cannot
be allowed to remain only on paper for years and thereby defeating the very purpose of such law and legislative policy.

“As a matter of fact, the role of the governments in the matter such as this has to be proactive. In the matters of providing relief to those who are differently-abled,
the approach and attitude of the executive must be liberal and relief oriented and not obstructive or lethargic.

“A little concern for this class who are differently-abled can do wonders in their life and help them stand on their own and not remain on mercy of others.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Chief Commissioner Disabilities directs UPSC to withdraw discriminatory performa

UPSC asked to withdraw ‘discriminatory proforma’

The Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disability has directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to withdraw its “discriminatory performa”. It has directed the UPSC to refrain from asking persons with disabilities to submit photographs showing their disabilities and to consider the ‘permanent disability certificate’ issued from a government hospital as a valid proof.

The action comes following an intervention by Dr. Satendra Singh, who has been working in the area of disability rights and had written to the UPSC against “its discriminatory policies”.

“Despite having a valid disability certificate, the UPSC asks all applicants to use their own format for disability certificate. This is against the existing guidelines but nobody challenged the UPSC. Moreover, the format asks applicants to paste ‘photo showing disability’, which is not only discriminatory but also infringement of right to privacy. An example – how can an amputee female attach her photograph?’’ asked Dr. Singh.

He added that in a follow-up to his complaint, he also quoted the Amended Persons with Disabilities Rules 2009, which were circulated to all the Ministries/Departments (Rules 3 to 6 of Chapter II relating to Disability Certificate as per Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s notification in November 2013.

“The amended rules show the format to be used for disability certificate and none of them asks ‘to showcase disability’,” said the physician.

He further pointed out that Rule 6 of the same order clearly states that a certificate issued under Rule 4 is to be generally valid for all purpose. “When a person already has a valid government certificate of permanent disability why does he have to get his disability certificate again in the prescribed form of the UPSC?’’ questioned Dr. Singh.

Source: The Hindu


Friday, March 28, 2014

Not providing reservation for disabled in Higher Judicial Service amounts to Discrimination - rules Delhi HC

A Division bench of Delhi High Court presided by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar observed that arbitrary denial of 3% reservation for persons with disabilities in terms of The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995,  would amount to discrimination.

Writing judgement in this case titled Nishant S. Diwan Versus High Court of Delhi, W.P.(C) 983/2014 on 25th March 2014, the bench observed that the Disabilities Act made it mandatory for all government organisations to reserve at least 3 per cent vacancies for the disabled and that the decision of the High Court administration to not include the disability quota in the upcoming direct recruitment process for the Delhi Higher Judicial Services was “arbitrary and discriminatory”.

The bench also struck down the argument that a five-judge committee on 09.03.2007, made no recommendation in respect of DHJS while making recommendation about the DJS (comprising of civil judges and magistrates only) saying that the Committee had considered the proposal in the background of whether to provide for reservations in DJS and there was no explicit reference to DHJS.

Click here to access the Supreme Court Judgement in Civil Apeal No. 9096/2013 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 7541 of 2009) titled Union of India and Anr  Versus National Federation of Blind and others.

The court has also directed the establishment to carry out a review of the remaining number of vacancies in the DHJS that can be “appropriately earmarked for those with disabilities according to the total number of sanctioned posts”, following which it could recruit the appropriate number of persons in the next round of recruitment.

The court has directed the administration to carry out a “special recruitment procedure” for only the earmarked vacancies falling to the share of those entitled to be considered under the 3 per cent quota under the Disabilities Act, within a year of the date of declaration of results in the current recruitment process.

DHJS refers to appellate courts, which exercise appellate authority over the lowest level of judiciary. Direct recruitment to DHJS is done through an examination held by the High Court Establishment (HCE).

The HCE had issued an advertisement for recruitment to 14 posts in December last year, setting aside four seats for SC/ST candidates and 10 for general category. The examination for these seats is scheduled to be held on April 6.

The order was given on a plea filed by an advocate who is a person with locomotor disability, who had alleged that non-inclusion of disability quota in the DHJS recruitment was “contrary to the express provisions of the Disabilities Act”.

Advocate Nishant S Diwan, who has been practicing as an advocate since 1998, had also argued that the HCE was “under a duty to set-apart appropriate number of posts having regard to the total cadre strength of 224 posts in DHJS”.

The HCE had taken the decision that the disability quota would not apply to the DHJS recruitments and would only apply to the magistrates and civil Judges, since the notification issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had mentioned only “magistrates of the subordinate judiciary”. The HCE had also taken the plea that since the examination was scheduled for April 6, imposition of any quota at this late stage would “upset the entire timeline and delay the recruitment process”.

The court held that “there can be no difference for reservation under the Disabilities Act” between the DJS and the DHJS since the DHJS officers perform duties and functions similar to those in DJS.

The court directed the administration to set aside one of the 14 posts for persons eligible under the disability quota, but has directed that the seat should be kept vacant and should be clubbed with the next round of recruitment.

Since as per the Supreme Court judgement in UOI Versus National Federation of Blind, it is clarified that the section 33 is independent of Section 32 for making reservation, the Hon'ble Court should have also passed directions to calculate the backlog of the total vacancies since 01 Jan 1996 and not reserving one seat in the present recruitment process.

Also the list of identified posts makes a mention that posts with different nomenclature but with similar functions out to be reserved. Also since posts of DHJS are also promotional posts for the lower judiciary, these can not remain beyond the purview of reservation  in both direct recruitment as well as promotional reservation envisaged by the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court ibid.

Download the Judgements:


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Delhi HC issues notices to Civic Agencies on Barrier Free Pedestrian Infrastructure

A Division Bench headed by the Acting Chief Justice B. D. Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul of Delhi High Court on 26 March 2014, issued notices to Govt. of Delhi, civic bodies, Traffic Police, Police Commissioner & DDA  on a public interest litigation that sought a direction to ensure barrier free pedestrian infrastructure in the city of Delhi. The responses are to be filed by May 26, 2014.

The petitioner Mr. Vinod Kumar Bansal, a social worker stressed that parking spaces should be provided to the physically challenged in line with the Master Plan Delhi 2021. The petition sought the court's direction to the Delhi government and civic agencies to install auditory signals at red lights on public roads for physically handicapped which have not been provided despite clear cut provision in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995.

The petition further sought directions to make pavements wheelchair-friendly. "Footpaths, pavements and public roads are laid only for the purpose for passing through by the pedestrians / vehicles and are also meant for passage only and for no other purpose or business but the shopkeepers are misusing the footpaths, pavements and to some extent roads in Delhi," the PIL said.

The petition titled  Vinod Kumar Bansal Versus Govt. of NCT Delhi and Others registered as W.P.(C) 1977/2014, also points out that footpaths and pavements are constructed for free and safe passage for and by the pedestrians. However, authorities have ignored their duty to regulate, maintain and control the free flow of traffic and of the general public at large. The petition seeks to make all pavements wheelchair friendly.

More updates soon!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Denying the disabled

Indian courts have shown that they are ready for progressive interpretations of the law on the rights of persons with disabilities. Therefore, any new law that aims to replace the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, needs to be a significant improvement on it. By JAYNA KOTHARI

SINCE 1996, when the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (PWD Act), came into force, by far the majority of cases taken to court have been about equal opportunity in public employment, that is, reservation of jobs for persons with disabilities and related matters such as promotions, identification of posts and eligibility. This struggle is in many ways not that different from the caste and gender battles for affirmative action in government employment. For any marginalised group, including persons with disabilities, equality in employment is a benchmark for full participation in society.

In Union of India vs National Federation for the Blind and Others, the Supreme Court passed on October 8 a landmark judgment in this battle on reservation of jobs for persons with disabilities. The PWD Act, though a restricted statute mainly concerned with providing reservation in jobs and seats in public employment and education, has slowly been nudged by courts, lawyers and disability rights activists to become far more progressive than was ever imagined. Section 33 of the Act states that “every appropriate government shall appoint in every establishment such percentage of vacancies not less than 3 per cent for persons or class of persons with disability...”. Section 32 requires the appropriate government to identify jobs for persons with disability and review the list of identified jobs every three years.

In spite of Section 32, the reality on the ground since 1996 has been that hardly any jobs were identified by the governments as suitable for persons with disabilities. A 2009 World Bank report, titled “People with Disabilities in India: From Commitment to Outcomes”, found that only 10.2 per cent of the posts in all Ministries/departments and public establishments had been identified as suitable for persons with disabilities. The situation in 2013 is not very different. In a 2010 judgment, in Govt. of India through Secretary and Anr vs Ravi Prakash Gupta & Anr, the Supreme Court held that non-identification of posts could not be a reason for the government to evade its obligation to reserve 3 per cent of posts for persons with disabilities.

In the National Federation for the Blind case, the core question was whether the 3 per cent reservation should be calculated on the basis of the cadre strength or the number of vacancies in the identified posts. Cadre strength refers to the total number of posts in the cadre. At present, if at all reservation for and appointment of persons with disabilities are made, it is only on the basis of the vacancies that arise in “identified” jobs, which are far fewer than the total number of posts in the cadre. The Supreme Court held that from a bare reading of Section 33 it was clear that the intention of the legislature was that the 3 per cent reservation was computed on the basis of total vacancies in the cadre strength. This interpretation is significant as it will lead to an unprecedented increase in the number of appointments in State and Central government jobs for persons with disabilities.

One of the most interesting observations of the court in this judgment pertains to reservation in the private sector. Section 41 of the Act states that incentives should be given to public and private establishments so that they provide 5 per cent reservation for persons with disabilities. The Supreme Court held that “on a conjoint reading of Sections 33 and 41, it is clear that while Section 33 provides for a minimum level of representation of 3 per cent in the establishments of appropriate government, the legislature intended to ensure 5 per cent of representation in the entire workforce both in public as well as private sector”.

This expansive observation of the court has gone unnoticed amid the excitement over its statement on reservation based on the cadre strength. This opens up new avenues for implementing reservation for persons with disabilities in the private sector as well. This opportunity was passed up by Justice Ravindran in the judgment in Dalco Engineering Pvt. Ltd vs Satish Prabhakar Padhye & Ors, which stated that the definition of “establishments” under the PWD Act did not include private companies. Now, however, the full Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam, J. Desai and J. Gogoi has clearly moved ahead by observing that the intention of the legislature was to ensure reservation of posts for persons with disabilities not only in the public sector but in the private sector as well.

Draft Bill, 2012 
This judgment comes at the right time as the Draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012, is pending consideration. The Supreme Court even relied on the Bill for its reasoning. However, with regard to equality in employment rights for persons with disabilities, the Bill does little to improve upon the provisions of the PWD Act and does not include the exciting new possibilities that the Supreme Court judgment promises. It does not mandate reservation of jobs in the private sector at all for persons with disabilities although this was clearly included in the draft of 2011. Unless the private sector is mandated to reserve jobs for persons with disabilities, it is unlikely that their conditions of employment in the country will change significantly. If one were to review any significant disability rights legislation in other jurisdictions, one would notice that all of them contain employment obligations for the private sector as well.

This has become even more urgent now as India has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Perhaps, the Supreme Court decision will prompt a revision of the relevant provisions in the Draft Bill. The Draft Bill also needs to address the problematic requirement of “identification of jobs”, which has been reproduced from the PWD Act. Identification of jobs is a concept that is considered outdated by disability rights activists the world over because it has a history of segregating persons with disabilities into the most menial jobs available, making it difficult for them to apply for other jobs. In the last century, the strategy of identifying particular professions for persons with disabilities was practised in the United Kingdom. But, as Anna Lawson, professor at Leeds University and author of Disability and Equality Law in Britain: The Role of Reasonable Adjustment (Hart Publishing, 2008), points out, the occupations that were selected were of low status such as car park attendants and lift operators. In associating disabled people with such jobs, there is the danger of creating or reinforcing negative stereotypes about them and their abilities.

For example, in India, the stereotypical jobs reserved for the blind and persons with low vision are those of music teacher and telephone operator. These difficulties were recognised in the U.K. as early as 1956 by the Piercy Committee in its report of the Committee on the Rehabilitation, Training and Resettlement of Disabled Persons, and although initially the disabled community supported the strategy of identifying certain jobs for its members, such schemes were finally abolished.

In India, the battle for reservation of jobs has often been stalled by the government’s not identifying posts as suitable for persons with disabilities. Such identification is often restrictive and arbitrary; for example, in Group A, the job of an agricultural scientist specialised in econometric analysis is identified as being suitable for an individual who is blind or has an orthopaedic disability but not for someone with a hearing disability. There is also a great variance between the Central government and different State governments on what posts are suitable for persons with disabilities, and this has led to intense litigation.

As the World Bank report says, the list of identified jobs is based on the assumption that the characteristics of impairment are the exclusive determinants of an individual’s ability to hold a position at a particular skill level and such identification ignores the potential influences of individual characteristics (motivation, age at disability onset), the person’s access to employment services, and the characteristics of the workplace and labour market. Even though there is a statutory obligation to identify posts, what posts are identified is left to the discretion of the government, which decides on the basis of the nature of the posts and its requirement. The government often conveniently denies people with disabilities jobs by not identifying enough posts in each department for them. Thus, the whole concept of identification of posts is problematic. The Supreme Court recognised this in its recent judgment, saying: “[E]xperience has shown that identification has never been uniform between the Centre and States and even between the departments of any government. For example, while a post of middle schoolteacher has been notified as identified as suitable for the blind and low vision by the Central government, it has not been identified as suitable for the blind and low vision in some States such as Gujarat and J&K, etc.”

Reasonable accommodation 
Unfortunately, the requirement of identification of jobs is retained in the Draft Bill, and Sections 32 and 33 of the PWD Act are reproduced, with the only difference being an increase in the reservation from 3 per cent to 5 per cent. If this requirement is removed from the Bill, this, coupled with the obligation the Bill places on the employer to provide “reasonable accommodation”, every job could potentially be suitable for persons with disabilities. The concept of reasonable accommodation, or adjustment, lies at the heart of civil rights advancement in the context of disability. Its significance is that it is a way of accommodating difference. A 2004 baseline study by the European Union Network of Independent Experts of Disability Discrimination, titled “Disability Discrimination Law in the E.U. Member States”, noted: “The notion of ‘reasonable accommodation’ is individualised and involves the person with a disability in an interactive dialogue with the employer to discover the right kind of accommodation needed in the overall circumstances of the case.”

Essentially, the concept stems from a realisation that the achievement of equal treatment can only become a reality when some reasonable allowance is made for disability in order to enable the abilities of the individual concerned to be put to work. In employment, it is the duty of the employer to make reasonable accommodations to any physical features of the premises or to the duties of the job which would place disabled persons at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled. As stated in the E.U. report, reasonable accommodation as provided in other legislations could include adjustments to premises; reallocation of duties; redeployment to an existing vacancy; alteration of working hours; reassignment to a different place of work; allowing absence for rehabilitation; assessment or treatment; training; acquisition of equipment; modification of equipment, instructions, reference manuals and testing or assessment procedures; and provision of a reader, interpreter or supervision. Thus, the need to identify jobs would not arise at all as every job could be done by a person with a disability. With India ratifying the U.N. Disabilities Convention, the concept of reasonable accommodation has not only been brought under the Draft Bill, but also recognised by the Bombay High Court in Ranjit Kumar Rajak vs State Bank of India.

Finally, only token improvements to the PWD Act have been made in the Bill. Instead of the seven disabilities stated in the PWD Act, the Bill provides for 5 per cent reservation of jobs for persons with “benchmark disabilities”, which means those found with 40 per cent or more of the specified 18 disabilities. However, the provisions for reservation of jobs only mentions that out of the 5 per cent of jobs, with 1 per cent each being reserved for persons with blindness and low vision, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, autism and intellectual disability, and mental illness. These provisions do not adhere to the progressive social model of disability, which does not view disability as a medical impairment (with 40 per cent or more of a certain characteristics) but as a form of discrimination due to social and environmental barriers. If these medical models of understanding disability are reproduced in the new law, one can hardly say that the Bill is in conformity with the U.N. convention, which was supposed to be the basis for the whole drafting exercise.

The Supreme Court decision signals that Indian courts are ready for progressive interpretations of the law on the rights of persons with disabilities. These interpretations have breathed life into the PWD Act and transformed it from a limiting statute into a legislation that has been successful in changing the lives of persons with disabilities, at least in the field of public employment. This judgment bears in it the seeds for further reform. This requires a serious reconsideration of the Draft Bill, which needs to take all these concerns into account. The disability rights movement has worked hard for the last 17 years to make the PWD Act what it is today, and any new legislation that replaces it needs to make a significant improvement to it.

Jayna Kothari is an advocate practising in the Karnataka High Court and a director of the Centre for Law and Policy Research. She is the author of The Future of Disability Law in India and can be contacted at jayna.kothari@clpr.org.in


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Visually Impaired Civil Service aspirants await appointments


The focus of the write-up by Mr. Subhash Ghatage (kafila.org) is the plight of four candidates – all of them visually challenged – who had cleared the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examinations way back in 2008, scored more marks than many ‘normal’ students and were still waiting for appointment letters. The Commission as everybody knows is India’s central agency authorised to conduct civil services and other important examinations.

The caller said that he was one among the four and shared with me the long struggle he along with others were engaged in to get their due. Apathy exhibited by people in the higher echelons of the Commission as far as visually challenged persons are concerned is really disturbing. And it was not for the first time that it had failed to give appointment letters to such candidates. Merely three years back Ravi Prakash Gupta had to approach the highest courts of the country namely the Supreme Court to get his appointment letter. Last February it was the Prime Minister’s Office  which had to intervene so that seven candidates from similar category could join their duty.

A recap of the appointments done between the period 1996 to 2008 tells us that only 15 visually challenged candidates have been recommended by UPSC, while almost 6900 vacancies were filled during this period. Among 15, 12 candidates have been recommended or upgraded after court orders.

While officially nothing is said about the inordinate delay by the commission in this particular case, it is evident in their action that candidates from this category are unwelcome. In fact, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to restrict the entry of such candidates, at times even by, glossing over the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. e.g. A petition by the caller ( Mr Pankaj Srivastava) tells us how in the year 2008

‘[t]otal 891 candidates were declared succesful but only four candidates from visualy challenged category were recommended by the commission, whereas it should be 9 according to the PWD act 1995.’

Despite the fact that Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) gave a favourable decision, the Commission is still engaged in delaying tactics. It even refused to calculate the backlog according to the necessary provisions of the act since 1996 when the Tribunal specifically asked it to do so. As a report in a leading national daily tells us (Times of India, 16 th Sep 2013) “

Between the four of them, they have filed two applications and one contempt petition against their non-appointment in the Central Administrative Tribunal. The tribunal ruled in their favour each time. There is a High Court stay order on one CAT order of May 2012 directing the authorities to appoint the four candidates, which is to be heard on September 24.”

It was late 70 s when Frank Bowe, a disability rights activist from US had written a monograph ‘Handicapping America’ (1978) in which he tried to explain how the key issue in any debate around disability is the societal response to it. For Bowe, the main point was not the status of physical or mental impairment of a particular person, but the way society develops strategies to cope with it.

One does not know when the obdurate bureaucracy at the Commission would become more aware and sensitive to the fact that there is a sea change in the perception about disability now. If earlier dominant trend in the disability discourse revolved around adoption of ‘social welfare measures’ and the world was bit far away from taking it up as a ‘human rights issue’with the adoption of an international convention in 2006 welfare and charity have been replaced by new rights and freedoms and there is growing recognition that a change of attitude is vital if disabled people are to achieve equal status.

We are told that the commission annually submits a report of its work to the President of India which is also sent to each house of the Parliament for discussion. One just expects that honourable members of the parliament – who have enough lung power left to point out acts of omission and commission on part of the government or the treasury benches ever contemplating strategies to strike back, would at least find time to go through the reports and see for oneself the great hiatus which exists between rosy picture about disability welfare which is presented through the ‘official’ reports and the actual situation on the ground.

.......continue to read from source: No country for Visually Challenged by Subhash Ghatade

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Extend legal protetction for impairments not covered under the PwD Act 1995 - mandate of SC

Please refer to earlier post titled "SC directs the Govt. to give suitable jobs to employees with Mental Illness" dated 19 August 2012. Here is the coverage on the issue from The Hindu.


The case of the 1977-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, whose compulsory retirement on grounds of  disability the Supreme Court has overturned, sets a strong precedent on the codification of protections against contingencies that arise during service. A two-judge bench upheld Anil Kumar Mahajan’s appeal against an earlier  decision that sought to curtail his tenure by five years. Interpreting the 1995 law on disabilities, the bench ruled that those who acquire an impairment while in service had to be accommodated in a position appropriate to their current condition. Where such adjustment was not available, the government was obliged to retain them in a supernumerary status, pending the identification of one, until the age of superannuation. The message emanating from the judgment is unambiguous, even if only a fraction of the disabled, estimated at nearly 10 per cent of India’s population, is in formal employment. It is relevant no less to the large numbers rendered severely impaired for life on account of the notoriously high rates of road accidents, not to mention industrial mishaps. The verdict also drives home the necessity, both within the administration and beyond, to recognize disability as a dimension of social diversity. To the extent that this is a relatively new reality, reflected in the workplace and several walks of life, public and private institutions would have to become responsive. It is hard to conceive of a more effective advocacy on disability than policies of accommodation that can potentially counter prevailing prejudice and stereotypes.

As regards recruitment under the Union Public Service Commission, a number of persons with different disabilities have begun to join the ranks in recent times. In fact, the question of identification of suitable placements across different services has come into the spotlight, illustrating the need to fashion a comprehensive approach on the absorption of new appointees. The landmark verdict, if anything, underscores yet again the urgent need for Parliament to enact fresh legislation in this area. This is imperative following India’s ratification, way back in 2007, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is the way forward on extending legal protection for categories of impairments that are not covered under the current law and give fresh impetus to realise the goals of inclusive education. The newly constituted department of disability affairs in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment should strive towards bringing the law-making process to fruition at the earliest. For, every single day lost to procedural delays affects the life prospects of millions.

Source: The Hindu

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mechanical and Rigid implementation of Disabilities Act is against the legislative intent

Dear Colleagues,

The cases as below wherein the courts as well as lawyers fail to appreciate the basic intention of the legislature behind the benevolent Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 are indicative of the ignorance in the legal fraternity on the rights of the persons with disabilities.

The DoPT memorandum dated 29 Dec 2005 categorically states in para 22 as under:
22. RELAXATION OF STANDARD OF SUITABILITY: If sufficient number of persons with disabilities are not available on the basis of the general standard to fill all the vacancies reserved for them, candidates belonging to this category may be selected on relaxed standard to fill up the remaining vacancies reserved for
them provided they are not found unfit for such post or posts. Thus, to the extent the number of vacancies reserved for persons with disabilities cannot be filled on the basis of general standards, candidates belonging to this category may be taken by relaxing the standards to make up the deficiency in the reserved quota subject to the fitness of these candidates for appointment to the post / posts in question. 
However, rigid cut off marks as 90% would defeat the very purpose of the Disabilities Act and the courts must look at the legislative intent before dismissing such petitions mechanically. An appeal against this order must be preferred in the next superior court to set the things right.

Here is the news coverage from Indian Express 16 Jul 2013


No quota job if cut-off isn't met

The Madras High Court on Monday rejected a plea from K Kumaravelu of Marudhur South village in Nagapattinam district, praying for a direction to Teacher Recruitment Board (TRB) to appoint him as a secondary grade teacher under the priority quota for physically-disabled persons.

After passing the higher secondary examination, Kumaravelu, belonging to a backward class community, completed diploma in teacher education, in 2009. During his school days, he met with an accident and his right leg below the knee had been amputated.

He was issued a certificate by the Joint Director, Medical and Rural Health and Family Welfare in Nagai, fixing his disability at 60 per cent. He also appeared for the TET and obtained 83 per cent marks.

The petitioner contended that against the total vacancy of 12,000 posts, 3 per cent of 360 posts had to be earmarked for the disabled under Sec 33 of the Person with Disability Act, 1995.

Very few candidates were selected under this section. Hence, he must be given accommodation, after giving relaxation in the requirement of 90 per cent marks, he pleaded.

Additional Government Pleader P Sanjay Gandhi submitted that the minimum eligibility marks under the Act was 90 per cent.

No person could claim any relaxation in the matter, he added.

Disabilities can't be restricted to those in the PwD Act 1995

Dear Colleages,

The present medical model of disability in the Disability Act and as understood by the Courts has some serious shortcomings. The etiology based labels or medical condition based labels are counterproductive so far as the constitutional mandate of ensuring equality and non-discrimination is concerned. The benefits of schemes meant for social justice can not be just restricted to persons whose condition or type of disability reflects in the law.

What is needed is to look at the restrictions that the person faces in the community due to the particular condition. The forumula that Amended Americans with Disabilities Act (came in to force on Jan 01, 2009) adopts is quite reasonable. It accepts you for the disability benefits if :

(a) If you have a physical or mental problem that substantially limits one or more of your “major life activities”.
(b) You have a record of having had such a problem in the past.
(c) Other people think you have such a problem, even if you do not actually have it.

What are major life activities

Some of the “major life activities” covered by ADA include but are not limited to caring for yourself, doing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

The amended ADA has made some major changes to the way the definition of disability had been interpreted under ADA in the past. The 2008 Amendments Act includes major body functions, including but not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, brain and nervous system, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive systems. These changes can help people with cancer, because in the past they often had a hard time meeting the definition of disability.

Bombay High Court sets a precedent

The Bombay HC has in the below case issued notices to the Coordination Committees  - both Centre and State - established under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities, proteciton of Rights and full participation) Act 1995 Central Govt.to respond to a similar case wherein the petitioner Vinod Tambe - a personal rehabilitated after cancer  -   has sought benefits available to persons with disabities under the Act.

Hon'ble Chief Justice Mohit Shah has been known to be a very sensitive judge so far as  matter related to those with disabilities and marginalised segments are concerned. He has been known to take suo moto notice of matters affecting the rights of disabled while he was with Gujarat High Court and championed the cause of persons with disabilities.

Disabilities Act not superseding but supplementing

The Maharasthra Government had through a circular issued by the director of employment exchange on November 21, 1983, instructed all district employment officers to register cancer-cured persons as handicapped persons. And the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 being a beneficial legislation only supplemented what existed before and by its enactment, no pre-existing right  could be taken away by the state in such a blatant manner. Therefore, even if if caner-cured is not included in the medical definitions of the Disabilities Act, the said category continues to get the benefits, technically.

Other unreported cases

I personally know of a case in Valsad, Gujarat where a gentleman met with a serious car accident during which a metal rod of the car entered his body from a little lower than the urinal part on the front side of the body and came out from the spinal cord i.e. back side of his body thereby tearing his body and damaging the sphincter, anus, rectum and the spinal cord. He was somehow saved but with a colostomy. 

The Disability Certificate granted by Civil Hospital Valsad says he is a case of "Permanent Colostomy  + L1 Vertebra Fracture (Old)" and degree of disability is quanitified as "66%" .  

He sought benefits of Tax Concession to buy an adapted car available to persons with Disabiliites. However, the Government authorities refused him the benefit saying that he is not a person with disability according to the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 since he is not suffering from blindness, low vision, mental illness, mental retardation, hearing impairment or locomotor impairment! This is despite that fact that the gentleman has no voluntary control over his stools and has problems in independent mobility.

Lessons

Even the draft of the new Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2012 which is to replace the existing Disabilities Act 1995 doesn't address this issue and still revolves around the etiology and types of disabilities without looking at the effect of the disability on the normal living of the person affected and the accommodations required by the person to be able to functional on an equal basis with others to ensure his fundamental right of equality to him. We need to move beyond types of impairment to the effects of the impairment the person faces in terms of disabilities while interacting with the social and environmental barriers and derive the accommodations that the person may require. 

The amended Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) even recognises a disability which may not be actually there but may be perceived by others in addition to the major body functions, including but not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, brain and nervous system, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive systems. 

We seriously need to consider this before the present bill gets passed in the present form. Below is the news coverage on Bombay High Court admitting a case of  person recovered from Cancer with residual impairments/ disabilities.

TREAT CANCER - CURED AS DISABLED: PLEA IN COURT
Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Aug 5, 2013, 01.40 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has sought responses from the central and state coordination committees for persons with disabilities after a teacher cured of cancer approached it, demanding the same rights granted to disabled people. 

Solapur resident Vinod Tambe was diagnosed with blood cancer in 1977 at the age of seven. He was treated at Tata Memorial Hospital, and on March 16, 2005, issued a certificate by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Central Hospital in Solapur declaring him "cancer-cured handicap". Still, in spite of this, Tambe found that he was not allowed to access facilities for handicapped people. The primary school teacher subsequently moved court. 

Tambe is seeking the benefits accorded to disabled persons in healthcare, public transportation, education and employment. "The government should be considerate towards someone who has gone to the doorsteps of death and returned. Even though I am cured I still go through body pain. I am not like a normal person," he said. 

Tambe's advocate M S Karnik, during a hearing on July 12, pointed out that a circular issued by the director of employment exchange on November 21, 1983, instructed all district employment officers to register cancer-cured persons as handicapped persons. 

But the Maharashtra government maintains that the circular was superseded by the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The definitions of disabilities listed in the act do not cover Tambe's case, it says. 

Karnik argued that the authorities erred in applying a narrow definition of the term "disability": "A person who has suffered from blood cancer even after getting cured does suffer from disabilities arising from weakness of the bones, joints or muscles, leading to substantial restriction of the movement of limbs." Karnik added that Tambe's case can be classified under locomotor disability, which is recognised under the 1995 act. 

The advocate contended that various additional forms of disabilities should be covered under the act and the Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012. Because of the current narrow definitions, he said, many people are getting deprived of disability benefits. 

Agreeing with him, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha gave the instance of the rare genetic disorder Hunter's syndrome. In this, an enzyme the body needs is missing or insufficiently generated, the judges said, leading to progressive damage, affecting development and organ function. 

Karnik said among the responsibilities of the central and state coordination committees is to continuously evolve policies to solve the problems faced by disabled people and to advise Central and state governments. The judges issued notices to the committees and posted the next hearing on August 7.

MAKING A CASE

THE PETITIONER

Vinod Tambe was diagnosed with blood cancer in 1977 and treated at Tata Memorial Hospital. In 2005, he was issued a certificate by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Central Hospital in Solapur declaring him 'cancer-cured handicap'

THE PLEA

Cancer survivors should be granted the rights given to disabled people

Disabilities Under Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012

1) Autism spectrum disorder 2) Blindness 3) Cerebral palsy 4) Chronic neurological conditions 5) Deafblindness 6) Haemophilia 7) Hearing impairment 8) Intellectual disability 9) Leprosy cured 10) Locomotor disability 11) Low vision 12) Mental illness 13) Muscular dystrophy 14) Multiple sclerosis 15) Specific learning disability 16) Speech and language disability 17) Thalassaemia 18) Multiple disabilities (two or more disabilities listed as one to 17 occurring in a person at the same time)

Disabilities Defined Under Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995

1) Blindness 2) Low vision 3) Leprosy-cured 4) Hearing impairment 5) Locomotor disability 6) Mental retardation 7) Mental illness

Times View


The government should treat such cases with utmost sympathy instead of going purely by the rulebook. And, if need be, rules should change to provide relief to people in distress. The court has done the right thing by indicating there may be a need to take a fresh look at the law.