Thursday, May 27, 2010

Avoid frivolous lawsuits, ministries advised | iGovernment.in

Dear Friends,

Many ministries are notorious for filing lawsuits, Review Petitions and Appeals despite the Courts ordering as per the provisions of extant legislations, rules and bye-laws. I have pretty curious experience with one Union Ministry of Railways which defies all rules, laws and policies of the Government of India on employing persons with disabilities! They still consider the persons with disabilities as threat and employing them may lead to security issues. And they claim that being a railway responsible for the safety of passengers, they can not risk the life of passengers by employing persons with disabilities! Though there are no studies or scientific evidence to attribute any of the accidents in the Railways till date to the cause of Disability.

I call it a mind set. And we have seen it for over few years now that Railways has been at loggerheads with the Ministry of Social Justice literally pressuring the MSJE with reminder after reminder to consider their request for exempting all posts of railways from the purview of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 which is due for a sea-change in light of the new committee set up to suggest a New Legislation which is more right based.  The ministry of Social Justice has categorically refused for any such exemption however, that doesn't deter the Ministry of Railways.

I am wondering what would the Railways do when they would be confronted with the new disability law, which most of disability rights activists and supporters believe will usher a new era of rights based regime and ensure true inclusion of every personal experiencing disabilities of any kind.

I have few cases which I wanted to discuss, but for the lack of time, like that of one All India Confederation of the Blind is contesting against Railways seeking filling up of backlog of reserved vacanices in all cadres A,B,C and D and the one matter of Mr. Jayanta Khamari - a physically disabled civil engineer who has been serving in CPWD for past decade without any question on his ability, not finding welcome in Railway despite clearing the Engineering Services Exam on his own merit! The matter is still being contested by the Railways through a SLP before the Supreme Court of India despite loosing the matter in the court of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities & before the Double Bench of Orissa High Court. Even their review petition was dismissed by the Ld High Court, Orissa as being devoid of any merit.

But the Ministry has the audacity to waste public money in frivolous litigation with impunity. Is Govt. of India monitoring how much their ministries wasting by just fighting against each other in the court of laws?

Any RTI will reveal, as to how many cases, writ petitions, PILs are being contested by Railways in different high courts in India merely on implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act!

I do hope that this is an early reminder and Ministries do take note of these issues of alarming proportions.

regards
SC Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights

Avoid frivolous lawsuits, ministries advised iGovernment.in

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Private Organisations not bound by Disability Act: Says Supreme Court

Dear Friends,
This post is with respect to a recent judgement by Hon'ble Supreme Court in  Civil Appeal No. 1886/2007 titled Dalco Engineering Private Ltd. Vs. Shree Satish Prabhakar Padhye and Ors with another Civil Appeal No. 1858/2007 titled Fancy Rehabilitation Trust and Anr. Vs. Union of India and Ors.


The employee Mr. Padhye acquired hearing impairment during the period of service and was terminated by the employer. Employee got a favourable suggestion from Disability Commissioner Pune for his re-instatement under Section 47 of Disabilty Act which says:

“47. Non-discrimination in Government employment.—(1) No establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service:

Provided that, if an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits:

Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.


(2) No promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of his disability:


Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section.”

 
The word "Establishment" has been defined by Section 2( k)( i) of the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 defines the word "Establishment as :-

"Establishment" means a corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a local authority or a Government company as defined in section 617 of 'the Companies Act, 1956 and includes Departments of a Government;


On a simple reading of the definition of the word "establishment", it is clear that any organisation established under a central, provincial or state act will be an establishment. Thus any organisation registered and established under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act or the Indian Trust Act or The Companies Act should ordinarily get covered under this.

However over insistence here on the Government share/ownership or control indicates that the intention of creators of this statute was to only include organisations which are largely government or local authorities created under central or state statutes or has a government stake of 51% (read section 617 of Companies Act which has been specifically referred to indicate that this has to be read in exclusion of the Companies Act). Also the heading of Section 47 of Disability Act is "Non-discrimination in Government Employment" which clarifies the intention of the legislature that it did not wanted to include private companies under the word "establishment".

The Hon'ble Supreme Court has indicated that similar phrase in the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act meant "government companies".  The reason put forward by the Court is "A ‘company’ is not ‘established’ under the Companies Act. An incorporated company does not ‘owe’ its existence to the Companies Act. An incorporated company is formed by the act of any seven or more persons (or two or more persons for a private company) associated for any lawful purpose subscribing their names to a Memorandum of Association and by complying with the requirements of the Companies Act in respect of registration. Therefore, a ‘company’ is incorporated and registered under the Companies Act and not established under the Companies Act.


It further clarifies that inclusion of only a specific category of companies incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 (Govt. Companies registered under Section  617) within the definition of ‘establishment’ necessarily and impliedly excludes all other types of companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956, from the definition of ‘establishment’.


A counter argument to this would be that while IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act are punitive in nature and should be interpreted in restrictive and strict sense, the Disability Act is a benevolent, socio-economic and empowering legislation and must be interpreted in a way which favours the marginalized section of the society.

However, now a decision of the learned judges of the Supreme Court is out here clarifying the meaning of word establishment, removing the clouds of doubt on the existing legislation and leaving no room for its benevolent interpretation in future. Therefore, it would be worthwhile now that the disability activists address this issue in the New Law that is being suggested and be categorical that the provisions of the disability act would apply to all establishment including those private initiatives which are registered under any of the Central or State statutes like companies, trusts, societies and cooperatives etc.

This has larger force of argument because when a labour legislation related to PF, Minimum Wage etc. is applicable to private employers with a certain number of employees then why can't disability legislation be applicable - for the objective of both legislations is to empower the weak, vulnerable and marginalized members of our society?

On second thought, it comes to my mind as to why the exploitation of an employee with disability by an employer could not be taken up through labour legislations read in conjunction with disability Act and why alone under Section 47 of the Disability Act? The last line of the judgement - "This will not come in the way of employee of any private company, who has been terminated on the ground of disability, seeking or enforcing any right available under any other statute, in accordance with the law." -  gives a hint that it could have perhaps been better fought under labour legislations. 


Here is the news report on the issue from the Mail Today.



regards



SC Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights
09811125521


SC says disability Act not binding on private firms

Mail Today, 01st April 2010


THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday held that a law enacted in 1995, to prevent exploitation of the disabled by their employers, could not be enforced on the private sector.

A three- judge bench, comprising justices R. V. Raveendran, R. M. Lodha and C. K. Prasad, said the Persons with Disabilities ( Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, did not cast any obligation on private companies and schools.

The bench rejected a contention that the Act covered all companies incorporated under the Companies Act.

A private company had approached the apex court, against a high court order holding that the disabilities commissioner had jurisdiction over any company incorporated under the Companies Act. The high court had said it could direct the company to reinstate an employee who was dismissed on account of disability.

The second appeal was filed by a trust — on behalf of the employee — which had approached the apex court after the high court refused to pass any such direction to the company and admitted that the first judgment was incorrect.

Opposing the company’s appeal, the dismissed employee pointed out that section 2( k)( i) of the disability Act brought “ a corporation established by or under a central, provincial, or state Act” within its ambit.


But the apex court said a similar phrase in the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act meant government companies.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Supreme Court | Dalco Engineering Pvt. Ltd vs Satish Prabhakar Padhye & Ors | 31 March 2010

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: R.V. Raveendran, R.M. Lodha, C.K. Prasad

Case No. : Civil Appeal No. 1886 OF 2007

Case Title: Dalco Engineering Pvt. Ltd vs Satish Prabhakar Padhye & Ors

Date of Judgement: 31 March, 2010

Author: R V Raveendran

Acts Involved: The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995;  


---------------

                                                                         Reportable

                 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                  CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                   CIVIL APPEAL NO.1886 OF 2007


Dalco Engineering Private Ltd.                        ... Appellant

        Vs.

Shree Satish Prabhakar Padhye & Ors.                  ... Respondents


                                    WITH


                   CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1858 OF 2007


Fancy Rehabilitation Trust & Anr.                     ... Appellant

Vs.

Union of India & Ors.                                 ... Respondents


                             JUDGMENT

R. V. RAVEENDRAN, J.

Facts in CA No.1886/2007 :

The appellant is a private limited company incorporated under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956. The respondent - S.P. Padhye - (also referred to as `the employee') was employed as a Telephone Operator by the appellant for more than two decades. The respondent's service was terminated by the appellant with effect from 31.12.2000 on the ground that he had become deaf (85% reduction in ability to hear). The respondent complained to the Disability Commissioner, Pune, in regard to such termination, alleging that he was fit, able and normal when he joined service of the appellant and as he acquired the hearing impairment during the period of service, he should have been continued in employment in some suitable post. The Disability Commissioner made an order dated 12.10.2001 suggesting to the employer to undertake a social responsibility, by re- employing the respondent to discharge any other work. The suggestion was not accepted by the employer.

2. According to the respondent, the Commissioner, instead of making a mere suggestion, ought to have issued a direction to the employer, in exercise of jurisdiction under section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (`the Act', for short). He therefore filed a writ petition seeking the following reliefs (i) quashing of the order dated 12.10.2001; and (ii) a direction to implement the provisions of the Disabilities Act by directing the employer to reinstate him in service in a suitable post, with retrospective effect from 1.1.2001, in the same pay-scale and service benefits. The High Court allowed the said writ petition by judgment dated 23.12.2005, and directed the employer to reinstate the respondent and shift him to a suitable post with the same pay-scale and service benefits and with full back-wages. The High Court held that the appellant, though a private limited company, was an "establishment" as defined under section 2(k) of the Act and consequently section 47 of the Act enjoined it not to dispense with the services of its employee who acquired a disability.

Facts in CA No.1858/2007 :

3. The first Appellant is a Public Trust (for short the `Trust') working for the benefit of the physically and mentally challenged persons, took up a house-keeping contract from the third respondent Company on 24.7.2000. The appellant employed several physically handicapped persons for executing the said contract. The third respondent terminated the appellant's contract on 18.7.2006. Feeling aggrieved, the appellant filed a complaint dated 22.7.2006 with the Disability Commissioner, Pune followed by a writ petition in the High Court for quashing the notice terminating the contract. The appellant also sought a direction for rehabilitation of the persons with disabilities who were employed by it for executing the said house-keeping contract, under the provisions of the Act. A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court by judgment dated 19.9.2006 dismissed the writ petition holding that the third respondent was not an "establishment" within the meaning of section 2(k) of the Act and, consequently, the provisions of the Act did not apply and that the Disability Commissioner had no jurisdiction to issue any direction to the third respondent. It also held that the earlier decision in S.P. Padhye (which is the subject matter of the first case) was per incuriam as it ignored two binding decisions of this court - the Constitution Bench decision in Sukhdev Singh v. Bhagatram Sardar Singh Raghuvanshi [1975 (1) SCC 421] and the decision in S.S. Dhanoa v. Municipal Corporation, Delhi [1981 (3) SCC 431]. Feeling aggrieved, the appellants have filed this appeal. Questions for decision

4) The employee relies on section 47 which provides that no establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service. Section 47 of the Act is extracted below :-

"47. Non-discrimination in Government employment.--(1) No establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service:

Provided that, if an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits:

Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.

(2) No promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of his disability:

Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section."

The term "establishment" employed in section 47 is defined in section 2(k) of the Act as follows :

"2. Definitions.--In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, --

xxxxx

(k) "establishment" means a corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a local authority or a Government company as defined in section 617 of the Companies Act 1956 (1 of 1956) and includes Departments of a Government;"

5. The question is, having regard to the definition of the word `establishment' of section 2(k) of the Act, whether the requirement relating to non-discrimination of employees acquiring a disability during the course of service, embodied in Section 47, is to be complied with only by authorities falling within the definition of State (as defined in Article 12 of the Constitution), or even by private employers. This leads us to the following two questions:-

(i) Whether a company incorporated under the Companies Act (other than a Government company as defined in section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956) is an "establishment" as defined in section 2(k) of the Act ?

(ii) Whether the respondent in the first case and the appellant in the second case are entitled to claim any relief with reference to section 47 of the Act ?


Re: Question (i)

6. Let us examine the meaning of the crucial word `establishment' used in sub-section (1) of section 47 of the Act. The definition of the word `establishment' in section 2(k), when analyzed, shows that it is an exhaustive definition, and covers the following categories of employers:

(i) a corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial, or State Act;

(ii) an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government;

(iii) a local authority;

(iv)    a Government company as defined in Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956; and

(v)     Departments of a Government.

It is not in dispute that the employers in these two cases are companies incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 which do not fall under categories (ii) to (v) specified in Section 2(k) of the Act.

7. The employee contends that a company incorporated under the Companies Act is a Corporation falling under the first category enumerated in section 2(k), that is `Corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act', on the following reasoning : that a corporation refers to a company; that Companies Act is a Central Act; and that therefore a company incorporated and registered under the Companies Act is a Corporation established under a Central Act. He contends that the use of the words "by or under" is crucial. According to him, `a corporation established by an Act' would refer to a corporation brought into existence by an Act; and a `corporation established under an Act' would refer to a company incorporated under the Companies Act. On the other hand, the employer contends that the term `Corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act' refers to a statutory Corporation which is brought into existence by a statute, or under a statute and does not include a company which is registered under the Companies Act. It is submitted that Companies Act merely facilitates and lays down the procedure for incorporation of a company which, when incorporated, will be governed by the provisions of the said Act and therefore, a company registered under the Companies Act, is not a corporation established under an Act.

8. The words "a Corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act" is a standard term used in several enactments to denote a statutory corporation established or brought into existence by or under statute. For example, it is used in sub-clause (b) of Clause Twelfth of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (`IPC' for short) and Section 2(c)(iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (`PC Act' for short). Both these statutes provide that a person in the service of a `Corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act' is a public servant. The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 defines `public property' as meaning any property owned by, or in the possession of, or under the control of (i) the Central Government (ii) any state government; or (iii) any local authority; or (iv) any corporation established by, or under, a Central, Provincial or State Act; or (v) any company as defined in Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956; or (vi) any institution, concern or undertaking which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in that behalf provided that the Central Government shall not specify any institution, concern or undertaking under that sub- clause unless such institution, concern or undertaking is financed wholly or substantially by funds provided directly or indirectly by the Central Government or by one or more State Governments, or partly by the Central Government and partly by one or more State Governments. Thus the term is always used to denote certain categories of authorities which are `State' as contrasted from non-statutory companies which do not fall under the ambit of `State'.

9. The meaning of the term came up for consideration in S. S. Dhanoa vs. Municipal Corporation, Delhi and Ors. - 1981 (3) SCC 431 with reference to section 21 of IPC. This Court held:

"Clause Twelfth does not use the words "body corporate", and the question is whether the expression "corporation" contained therein, taken in collocation of the words "established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act" would bring within its sweep a cooperative society. Indubitably, the Cooperative Store Limited is not a corporation established by a Central or State Act. The crux of the matter is whether the word 'under' occurring in Clause Twelfth of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code makes a difference. Does the mere act of incorporation of a body or society under a Central or a State Act make it a corporation within the meaning of Clause Twelfth of Section 21. In our opinion, the expression 'corporation' must, in the context, mean a corporation created by the Legislature and not a body or society brought into existence by an act of a group of individuals. A cooperative society is, therefore, not a corporation established by or under an Act of the Central or State Legislature.

A corporation is an artificial being created by law having a legal entity entirely separate and distinct from the individuals who compose it with the capacity of continuous existence and succession, notwithstanding changes in its membership. ........ The term 'corporation' is, therefore, wide enough to include private corporations. But, in the context of Clause Twelfth of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, the expression 'corporation' must be given a narrow legal connotation.

Corporation, in its widest sense, may mean any association of individuals entitled to act as an individual. But that certainly is not the sense in which it is used here. Corporation established by or under an Act of Legislature can only mean a body corporate which owes its existence, and not merely its corporate status, to the Act. For example, a Municipality, a Zilla Parishad or a Gram Panchayat owes its existence and status to an Act of Legislature. On the other hand, an association of persons constituting themselves into a Company under the Companies Act or a Society under the Societies Registration Act owes its existence not to the Act of Legislature but to acts of parties though, it may owe its status as a body corporate to an Act of Legislature.

There is a distinction between a corporation established by or under an Act and a body incorporated under an Act. The distinction was brought out by this Court in Sukhdev Singh and Ors. v. Bhagatram Sardar Singh Raghuvanshi & Ors - (1975) 1 SCC 421. It was observed :

A company incorporated under the Companies Act is not created by the Companies Act but comes into existence in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

There is thus a well-marked distinction between a body created by a statute and a body which, after coming into existence, is governed in accordance with the provisions of a statute."

(emphasis supplied) In Executive Committee of Vaish Degree College v. Lakshmi Narain - 1976 (2) SCC 58, this Court explained the position further:

"In other words the position seems to be that the institution concerned must owe its very existence to a statute which would be the fountainhead of its powers. The question in such case to be asked is, if there is no statute, would the institution have any legal existence. If the answer is in the negative, then undoubtedly it is a statutory body, but if the institution has a separate existence of its own without any reference to the statute concerned but is merely governed by the statutory provisions it cannot be said to be a statutory body."

[emphasis supplied]

10. A `company' is not `established' under the Companies Act. An incorporated company does not `owe' its existence to the Companies Act.

An incorporated company is formed by the act of any seven or more persons (or two or more persons for a private company) associated for any lawful purpose subscribing their names to a Memorandum of Association and by complying with the requirements of the Companies Act in respect of registration. Therefore, a `company' is incorporated and registered under the Companies Act and not established under the Companies Act. Per contra, the Companies Act itself establishes the National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, and those two statutory authorities owe their existence to the Companies Act.

11. Where the definition of `establishment' uses the term `a corporation established by or under an Act', the emphasis should be on the word `established' in addition to the words `by or under'. The word `established' refers to coming into existence by virtue of an enactment. It does not refer to a company, which, when it comes into existence, is governed in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act. But then, what is the difference between `established by a central Act' and `established under a central Act'? The difference is best explained by some illustrations. A corporation is established by an Act, where the Act itself establishes the corporation. For example, Section 3 of State Bank of India Act, 1955 provides that a Bank to be called the State Bank of India shall be constituted to carry on the business of banking. Section 3 of Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 provides that with effect from such date as the Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, there shall be established a corporation called the Life Insurance Corporation of India. State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation of India are two examples of corporations established by "a Central Act". We may next refer to the State Financial Corporation Act, 1951 which provides for establishment of various Financial Corporations under that Act. Section 3 of that Act relates to establishment of State Financial Corporations and provides that the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette establish a Financial Corporation for the State under such name as may be specified in the notification and such Financial Corporation shall be a body corporate by the name notified. Thus, a State Financial Corporation is established under a central Act. Therefore, when the words "by and under an Act" are preceded by the words "established", it is clear that the reference is to a corporation established, that it is brought into existence, by an Act or under an Act. In short, the term refers to a statutory corporation as contrasted from a non-statutory corporation incorporated or registered under the Companies Act.

12. There is indication in the definition of `establishment' itself, which clearly establishes that all companies incorporated under the Companies Act are not establishments. The enumeration of establishments in the definition of `establishment' specifically includes "a Government Company as defined in Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956". This shows that the legislature, took pains to include in the definition of `establishment' only one category of companies incorporated under the Companies Act, that is the `Government Companies' as defined in Section 617 of the Companies Act. If, as contended by the employee, all Companies incorporated under the Companies Act are to be considered as `establishments' for the purposes of Section 2(k), the definition would have simply and clearly stated that `a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act, 1956' which would have included a Government company defined under Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956. The inclusion of only a specific category of companies incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 within the definition of `establishment' necessarily and impliedly excludes all other types of companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956, from the definition of `establishment'. It is clear that the legislative intent was to apply section 47 of the Act only to such establishments as were specifically defined as `establishment' under section 2(k) of the Act and not to other establishments. The legislative intent was to define `establishment' so as to be synonymous with the definition of `State' under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Private employers, whether individuals, partnerships, proprietary concerns or companies (other than Government companies) are clearly excluded from the `establishments' to which section 47 of the Act will apply.

13. There is yet another indication in section 47, that private employers are excluded. The caption/ marginal note of section 47 describes the purport of the section as non-discrimination in Government employment. The word `government' is used in the caption, broadly to refer to `State' as defined in Article 12 of the Constitution. If the intention of the legislature was to prevent discrimination of persons with disabilities in any kind of employment, the marginal note would have simply described the provision as `non-discrimination in employment' and sub-section (1) of section 47 would have simply used the word `any employer' instead of using the word `establishment' and then taking care to define the word `establishment'. The non-use of the words `any employer', and `any employment' and specific use of the words `Government employment' and `establishment' (as defined), demonstrates the clear legislative intent to apply the provisions of Section 47 only to employment under the State and not to employment under others. While the marginal note may not control the meaning of the body of the section, it usually gives a safe indication of the purport of the section to the extent possible. Be that as it may.

14. The learned counsel for the employee submitted that the decision in Dhanoa was rendered with reference to a penal statute; and that words or terms in such statutes are used in a restrictive and strict sense. He contended that definition of words and terms in a penal statute will not provide a safe guide to interpret the same words employed in socio-economic legislations. He further contended that the terms used in a socio-economic statute like Disabilities Act, providing for full participation and equality, for people with disabilities and to remove any discrimination against them vis-`-vis non- disabled persons, should be interpreted liberally. He submitted that any interpretation of the term `a corporation established by or under a central, provincial or state Act' with reference to the Penal Code should not therefore be imported for understanding the meaning of that term when used in the Act. He referred to and relied upon the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act which states that India as a signatory to the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of the People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region, enacted the Statute to provide for the following :

(i) to spell out the responsibility of the State towards the prevention of disabilities, protection of rights, provision of medical care, education, training, employment and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities;

(ii) to create barrier free environment for persons with disabilities;

(iii) to remove any discrimination against persons with disabilities in the sharing of development benefits, vis-`-vis non-disabled persons;

(iv) to counteract any situation of the abuse and the exploitation of persons with disabilities;

(v) to lay down a strategy for comprehensive development of programmes and services and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities; and

(vi) to make special provision of the integration of persons with disabilities into the social mainstream."

He submitted that keeping the said objects in view, the term `establishment' should be extended to all corporations incorporated under the Companies Act 1956, irrespective of whether they are in the public sector or private sector.

14.1) He also relied upon the following principle of contextual interpretation enunciated by this Court in Reserve Bank of India vs. Peerless General Finance and Investment Co. Ltd., - 1987 (1) SCC 424:

"Interpretation must depend on the text and the context. They are the bases of interpretation. One may well say is the text is the texture, context is what gives the colour. Neither can be ignored. Both are important. The interpretation is best which makes the textual interpretation match the contextual. A statute is best interpreted when we know why it was enacted. With this knowledge, the statute must be read, first as a whole and then section by section, clause by clause, phrase by phrase and word by word. If a statute is looked at, in the context of its enactment, with the glasses of the statute-maker, provided by such context, its scheme, the sections, clauses, phrases and words may take colour and appear different than when the statute is looked at without the glasses provided by the context. With these glasses we must look at the Act as a whole and discover what each section, each clause, each phrase and each word is meant and designed to say as to fit into the scheme of the entire Act. No part of a statute and no word of a statute can be construed in isolation. Statutes have to be construed so that every word has a place and everything is in its place."

14.2) He next relied upon the principle that words in a social welfare legislation should receive liberal and broad interpretation, stated by this Court in Workman of American Express International Banking Corporation v. Management of American Express International Banking Corporation - 1985 (4) SCC 71 :

"The principles of statutory construction are well settled. Words occurring in statutes of liberal import such as social welfare legislation and human rights legislation are not to be put in Procrustean beds or shrunk to Liliputian dimensions. In construing these legislations the imposture of literal construction must be avoided and the prodigality of its misapplication must be recognized and reduced. Judges ought to be more concerned with the `colour', the `content' and the `context' of such statutes (we have borrowed the words from Lord Wilberforce's opinion in Prenn v. Simmonds - 1971 (3) All ER 237). In the same opinion Lord Wilberforce pointed out that law is not to be left behind in some island of literal interpretation but is to enquire beyond the language, unisolated from the matrix of facts in which they are set; the law is not to be interpreted purely on internal linguistic considerations. In one of the cases cited before us, that is, Surendra Kumar Verma v. Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court (1981) 1 SCR 789, we had occasion to say, Semantic luxuries are misplaced in the interpretation of "bread and butter" statutes. Welfare statutes must, of necessity, receive a broad interpretation. Where legislation is designed to give relief against certain kinds of mischief, the Court is not to make inroads by making etymological excursions."

14.3) He next relied upon the following observations in Kunal Singh v. Union of India - 2003 (4) SCC 524, where this Court, referring to the very section under consideration, observed thus :

"Section 47 contains a clear directive that the employer shall not dispense with or reduce in rank an employee who acquires a disability during the service. In construing a provision of a social beneficial enactment that too dealing with disabled persons intended to give them equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation, the view that advances the object of the Act and serves its purpose must be preferred to the one which obstructs the object and paralyses the purpose of the Act. Language of section 47 is plain and certain casting statutory obligation on the employer to protect an employee acquiring disability during service."

15. We agree that the socio-economic legislations should be interpreted liberally. It is also true that Courts should adopt different yardsticks and measures for interpreting socio-economic statutes, as compared to penal statutes, and taxing statutes. But a caveat. The courts cannot obviously expand the application of a provision in a socio-economic legislation by judicial interpretation, to levels unintended by the legislature, or in a manner which militates against the provisions of the statute itself or against any constitutional limitations. In this case, there is a clear indication in the statute, that the benefit is intended to be restricted to a particular class of employees, that is employees of enumerated establishments (which fall within the scope of `state' under Article 12). Express limitations placed by the socio-economic statute can not be ignored, so as to include in its application, those who are clearly excluded by such statute itself. We should not lose sight of the fact that the words "corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act" is a term used in several enactments, intended to convey a standard meaning. It is not a term which has any special significance or meaning in the context of the Disabilities Act or any other socio-economic legislations. It is a term used in various enactments, to refer to statutory corporations as contrasted from non-statutory companies. Any interpretation of the said term, to include private sector, will not only amount to overruling the clear enunciation in Dhanoa which has held the field for nearly three decades, but more importantly lead to the erasure of the distinction maintained in the Constitution between statutory corporations which are `state' and non-statutory bodies and corporations, for purposes of enforcement of fundamental rights. The interpretation put forth by the employee would make employees of all companies, public servants, amenable to punishment under the provisions of Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act; and would also result in all non-statutory companies and private sector companies being included in the definition of `State' thereby requiring them to comply with the requirements of non- discrimination, equality in employment, reservations etc.

16. The appellant next contended that the scheme of the Act, does not confine its applicability to government or statutory corporations. Reference is invited to some provisions of the Act to contend that obligations/duties/ responsibilities are fixed with reference to persons with disabilities, on establishments other than those falling under section 2(k) of the Act. It was submitted that section 39 casts an obligation on all educational institutions, to reserve not less than three percent of the seats for persons with disabilities. In fact, it is not so. Though, the marginal note of section 29 uses the words `all educational institutions' with reference to reservation of seats for persons with disabilities, the section makes it clear that only government educational institutions and educational institutions receiving aid from the government shall reserve not less than three percent seats for persons with disabilities. It is well recognized that an aided private school would be included within the definition of `State' in regard to its acts and functions as an instrumentality of the State. Therefore, care is taken to apply the provisions of the Act to only educational institutions belonging to the government or receiving aid from the government and not to unaided private educational institutions. Further, section 39 of the Act, does not use the word `establishment'. Reference is next made to the section 44 which requires non-discrimination in transport. This section requires establishments in the transport sector to take special measures (within the limits of their economic capacity) to permit easy access to persons with disabilities. The employee contends that this would mean that all establishments whether statutory corporations falling under the definition of section 2(k) of the Act or non- statuary corporations, or even individuals operating in the transport sector should comply with section 44 of the Act. We do not propose to consider whether Section 44 applies to non-statutory corporations in the transport sector, as that issue does not arise in this case. Further the use of the words "within the limits of their economic capacity" makes it virtually directory. Be that as it may.


Re : Question (ii)

17. As the appellant in CA No. 1886/2007 and the third respondent in CA No. 1858/2007, are not establishments, within the meaning of that expression in Section 2(k) of the Act, section 47 of the Act will not apply. In so far the CA No. 1858 of 2007, there is an additional factor. Third respondent therein was not the employer of any persons with disability. Therefore, in that case, the entire question is academic. In neither of the cases, any relief can be granted under section 47 of the Act.

18. Therefore CA No. 1886 of 2007 is allowed and CA No. 1858 of 2007 is dismissed resulting in the dismissal of the respective writ petitions. This will not come in the way of employee of any private company, who has been terminated on the ground of disability, seeking or enforcing any right available under any other statute, in accordance with the law.


_____________________J.    (R.V. RAVEENDRAN)

 _____________________J.   (R. M. LODHA)

  _____________________J.  (C. K. PRASAD)

                                                         

New Delhi.                                     

March 31, 2010.                                         

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Delhi High Court issues notices to DU colleges on non implementation of PWD Act.

Notices to colleges for not adhering to disability quota



New Delhi: The Delhi High Court recently issued notices to eight colleges run by the central government for not implementing the disability quota for teachers despite directions.


A division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ajit Bharihoke asked the colleges to file their reply by April 16 and state why their orders were not complied with.

Bharti College and Lady Harding Medical College are two of the eight colleges that have not complied with the order.

Colin Gonsalves, counsel for NGO Sambhavana Trust, said, "There are only 39 colleges in Delhi University (DU) that have complied fully with the disability quota, 12 colleges have partially complied and 31 colleges have not complied at all."

The court was hearing a public interest petition seeking an implementation of the law on quota for disabled candidates for teaching posts.

Sambhavana Trust, a registered society of disabled persons, had alleged that the varsity and its colleges had not implemented the law even 15 years after the Parliament passed it and six years after the court's direction in this regard.

It was also submitted that the university, after enactment of the law, had passed a resolution in 1996 to provide three percent reservation for the disabled, out of which two percent was to be given to the visibly handicapped and one percent to orthopaedically handicapped. IANS (This is miquoted in the media, the correct version as 1.5% to the Visually Impaired and 1.5% to the Orthopaedically Impaired candidates)

Teacher with Cerebral Palsy gets justice from Supreme Court

Dear Friends,

This order from Hon'ble Justice ALTAMAS KABIR,  Supreme Court of India, is remarkable in many sense. The order is indicative of the apathy of certain implementing authorities and lack of awareness and sesitivity even at the level of the High Court when it comes to ensure equal opportunities and rights to Citizens with disabilities.

Click here to access the Detailed Order titled Syed Bashir-ud-din Qadri Vs. Nazir Ahmed Shah &Ors in CIVIL APPEAL NOS.2281-2282 OF 2010, (Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.10669-70 of 2008)

regards
SC Vashishth

Here is the news coverage.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court insensitive to cerebral palsy victim: Supreme Court

In ordering teacher's dismissal, it has dealt with case mechanically

Expressing concern over the shabby treatment meted out to disabled persons while considering them for government jobs, the Supreme Court has said these cases must be handled with sensitivity and not with bureaucratic apathy.

Dealing with an appeal filed by a person afflicted with cerebral palsy, a Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said: “It has to be kept in mind that this is not one of the normal cases relating to a person's claim for employment. This case involves a beneficial piece of social legislation to enable persons with certain forms of disability to live a life of purpose and human dignity.”

Syed Bashir-ud-din Qadri, a B.Sc. graduate, was appointed Rehbar-e-Taleem (teacher) in a government school at Pulwama by the Jammu and Kashmir government under the merit quota for physically challenged candidates. Two committees appointed by the government also approved his appointment after noting that he was capable of discharging his duties. But, acting on a petition from Nazir Ahmed Shah, the High Court set aside his appointment.

Allowing the appeal against this judgment, the Supreme Court said: “The appellant is a person suffering from cerebral palsy and these appeals are the story of his struggle to make himself self-dependent and to find an identity for himself against enormous odds.” The Bench pulled up the High Court for ordering his dismissal, and directed his reinstatement forthwith with all notional service benefits.

Writing the judgment, Justice Kabir said: “It is unfortunate that in spite of the positive aspects of the appellant functioning as Rehbar-e-Taleem and the clear and unambiguous object of the Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, the High Court adopted a view which was not compatible therewith. The High Court has dealt with the matter mechanically, without even referring to the Act or even the provisions of Sections 22 and 27 thereof.”

The Bench said: “Instead, the High Court chose a rather unusual method in assessing the appellant's capacity to function as a teacher by calling him to appear before the court and to respond to questions put to him. The High Court appeared to be insensitive to the fact that as a victim of cerebral palsy, the appellant suffered from a slight speech disability which must have worsened on account of nervousness when asked to appear before the court to answer questions.”

As disability did not impede the appellant from discharging his duties, the High Court ought not to have directed the termination of his services, the Bench said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Discharged on request with undertaking- will not seek pension- illegal, arbitrary & bad in law

 Dear friends,

Here is a fit case that has come to light which reinforces that the principals of natural justice can't be overruled with illegal undertakings got signed from the outgoing employees. Disregarding the earlier rejection of the petition by lower court and also refusal from Punjab and Haryana High court, the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) decided the disability pension case in favour of the retired subedar, a day before i.e. on 09th March 2010.

The Subedar was discharged on his own request and the employer got an undertaking signed from him that he would not claim any pension. The court held it absoutely illegal, arbitrary and bad in law. Though the matter took a long time but finally some justice seems to be coming through.

This matter also indicates that specific courts can do much better job in rendering justice than a regular or general court. The same holds true for matters relating to disability- where our experience confirms that the Court of Chief Commissioner-Disabilities constituted under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 has done far better job while CAT and High Court went on against the petitioners in similar matters.

regards
SC Vashishth, Advocate-Disability Rights

To read from source click here:  VRS no ground for rejecting pension, says defence tribunal

The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) decided a disability pension case in favour of a retired subedar on Tuesday. The case had earlier been rejected by a lower court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the grounds that the army personnel had given an undertaking at the time of voluntary retirement stating he would not claim disability pension.

Citing the decision of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in the case of Mahavir Singh Narwal versus Union of India of 2005 in support of this case, the Chandigarh bench of AFT, comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prasad and Lieutenant General (retired) Justice N S Brar, decided that the lower court was neither legal nor justified and had wrongly rejected the suit of the petitioner.

The bench decided that the petitioner, former subedar Rohtash Singh, resident of Umrawal village, district Bhiwani, was entitled to get disability pension from the date of his discharge plus the arrears of three years prior to filing of the suit with eight per cent annual interest. It was stated that the rejection of Singh’s claim for grant of disability pension on the grounds that he was discharged from service at his own request and gave an undertaking that he would not claim any pension was absolutely illegal, arbitrary and bad in law.

Rohtash Singh joined the Regiment of Artillery on May 25, 1967. He had a head injury after he met with a serious accident on September 26, 1989.

The medical board proceedings conducted by the Military Hospital in Ambala Cantonment awarded him 30 per cent disability and he was discharged on September 1, 1992.

He approached the appropriate authority for the grant of disability pension, which was rejected by the Artillery Record, Nasik, on January 12, 1994, on the plea that he was discharged at his own request and hence not entitled for disability pension. He also filed an appeal against the rejection of his appeal which was also rejected by the competent authority on July 22, 1994.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court relegated the matter to the civil court on August 12, 2005. The civil court also rejected Singh’s appeal on the grounds that he was discharged from service at his own request on extreme compassionate grounds as per the Army Headquarters and he has approached the court after the lapse of nine years of rejection of his appeal.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Supreme Court of Zimbabwe rules in favour of Independent Voting rights for PWDs


Political Editor

BOOSTED by the recent Constitutional Court ruling nullifying a section of the Electoral Act that required polling officers to assist visually impaired voters to cast their ballots, the local disability movement hopes that the proposed new constitution will guarantee them wider rights.

The Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, recently declared Section 60 of the Electoral Act null and void saying it violates the principle of the secret ballot, in a landmark case brought up by Mr Simon Mvindi, a visually impaired voter, and five others.

The disability movement views the milestone ruling as the first step in upholding the voting and more rights of the blind. People living with disability hope the ruling would stimulate action towards protecting the voting rights of other disabled groups, including the deaf, dumb, the physically handicapped and persons of short stature.

Welcoming the January Constitutional Court ruling on blind voters, Mr Nyamayabo Mashavakure, a visually impaired teacher, said the basis for the holistic protection of the disabled's rights must be enshrined in the new Constitution.

He said while the ruling was plausible, political parties themselves and the Government through the electoral authority, must consider people with different disabilities in developing political communication materials, such as producing television campaign messages in sign language or posters in Braille.

"The people who approached the court on this matter did a very good job," said Mr Mashavakure.

"The ruling is good, not only for the visually impaired but also for everyone who is living with disability. We hope as we start drafting the new Constitution, we will come up with clear guarantees on the wider rights of the disabled, not just voting rights."

It is estimated that 10 percent of any country's population is disabled, which means that about 1,3 million Zimbabweans have various forms of disability.

The country is in the process of coming up with a new constitution in terms of the Global Political Agreement. Although lack of funding has hampered progress, a significant amount of work has been done since the process started early last year with the appointment of the Parliamentary Select Committee, which is charged with leading the process.

Outreach teams are expected to be dispatched across the country in the next two months to collect the people's views on the proposed supreme law, providing an opportunity for special interest groups like disabled people to contribute.

In his court papers filed in the Supreme Court case, Mr Mvindi recalled that on 29 March 2008 he, accompanied by his wife, went to a polling station hoping to cast his ballot in the harmonised election. However, he said he was taken aback when polling officers told him that they, and not his wife, could legally assist him in the voting process.

"I must hasten to point out that with the marital bond between my wife and I, I am not able to trust anyone more than I trust my wife," he said in the papers.

"She has been by my side throughout the whole period we have been married and from the time I lost my sight completely, she has acted as an aide in all my needs. To my utter shock and surprise, I was denied the right to be assisted by my wife."

The Constitutional Court heard his plea and ruled in his favour and his peers. The full bench unanimously agreed that the section of the Act violated the right of the visually impaired to voting by secret ballot and declared it unconstitutional.

"It is ordered that Section 60 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) be and is hereby declared to be ultra vires sections 23A (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Accordingly, Section 60 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) be and is hereby declared null and void, and is struck down," ruled Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justices Wilson Sandura, Misheck Cheda and Paddington Garwe concurred.

Advocate Happias Zhou, who represented Mr Mvindi and others, said although his clients were blind, they were not illiterate. He said that the notion that the blind cannot exercise their voting rights other than in the presence of the persons stated in Section 60 of the Act was clear interference with the secrecy of the vote. He suggested that ideal secret voting for the blind people would allow voters to be accompanied by people they trusted.

It was submitted that in other countries, the visually impaired vote on their own on tactile Braille ballots, enlarged print, electronic ballot and other means.

The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa said he appreciated the need for the changes, but the electoral authority does not have funds to ensure that the special ballot papers, electronic ballots are made available.

Mr Mashavakure said most people who are visually impaired shunned voting for fear of possible political reprisals because the Electoral Act required them to disclose their political preferences to polling officers, who are essentially strangers to them.

He said if the Government does not have resources to provide special voting materials for the blind, it must allow the visually impaired to be assisted by their own aides during voting, even on common ballots. This, he said, removes the expense from the Government and places it on the disabled voter.

He said the new constitution must have a non-discriminatory disability clause as opposed to the current one, specifically Section 23 of Constitutional Amendment Number 17, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of physical disability only.

"Physical disability is not the only form of disability," he argued.

"There is also the question of language. If you look at the Kariba Draft for instance, it gives languages that are spoken in the country like Shona, Ndebele, Venda and others. However it leaves out one important language - sign language."

He said the National Constitutional Assembly draft has also its limitations.

"Its disability clause, which is Section 41 I think, gravitates towards the medical model of disability. It suggests that people living with disability are sick or something like that, but it must be known that they were ill at the point that caused their disability, but are now fine. So the constitution must be general in its articulation of disability, not specifying things like 'physical disability' or 'protecting oral languages', excluding sign language."

Mr Tsarai Mungoni, programmes officer (research and advocacy) at the National Association of the Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (Nascoh) said disability rights must be clearly spelt out in the Bill of Rights, adding that the Government must assist the disabled with social grants.

"Disability is expensive to manage," he said, "so people with disability need a social protection scheme in form of a disability grant, to be given to any disabled person, whether they are employed or not. This will serve to mitigate against disability-induced poverty. The Constitution must also clearly provide for affirmative action in terms of economic empowerment, education and representation in private and public sectors."

Mr Mungoni, who is a member of the Thematic Committee on Disability in the Select Committee, decried the fact that out of a population of 1,3 million disabled people in the country, about 20 of them are in the sub-committee of the handicapped.

He added that even in Parliament, there is no MP representing the disabled.

"That is where it starts — lack of representation," he said. "But we are saying the constitution must state a quota to be held by the disabled in Parliament and other critical areas."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Delhi High Court disposes off the PIL in favour of Inclusive Education in Govt. Schools in Delhi

Dear Friends,

So finally the Delhi High Court has disposed of the Public Interest Litigation No. W.P.(C) 6771/2008, Social Jurist Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Anr, yesterday i.e. on 20.01.2010. The final order merely disposes off the petition while making its earlier directions final which need to be implemented and the Committee appointed for the purpose will oversee its implementation.

This PIL has brought to sharp focus the precarious condition of the disabled children in the Government Schools. The situation was getting worse as disability was left to the NGOs to handle as if the state only had a role of giving out doles to few NGOs working on this. This led to uprooting of many children with disabilities especially the Visually impaired and the Hearing impaired to cities where some facilities existed. While children with other disabilities suffered in silence with no school ready to take them for they had no infrastructure or support to teach them.

The judiciary has restored the faith of people with disabilities, their parents, families, friends and supporters, NGOs that with this positive judgement, situations will change for them in the Government Schools too and inclusive education will not get restricted to ideological books only.

If this judgement is to be implemented, it would require a large number of special educators, therapists and supporting staff trained in sign language, braille and teaching techniques to include all by using multi-sensory methods. A daunting task both for the Govt. and as well as Rehabilitation Council of India. RCI will have to make sure that quality of training is maintained on highest standards in all their affiliated colleges, institutes. In the past there have been several cases where there were questions raised on quality of training in certain institutions. This would be necessary to protect the future of children with disabilities in mainstream (inclusive) education.

While the Education Department of Delhi Government has initiated the process of changing the Recruitment Rules to include Special Educators, other rehabilitation professionals have not been thought about as yet. To make inclusive education a reality, children with disabilities would require support of therapists, rehabilitation professional among all which should be considered by the Government.

Now with Mr. Agrawal been appointed Chairman of a Committee to oversee implementation of Right to Education of Disabled Children, these issues could be taken up with the Committee and necessary inclusion of more rehab professionals could be effected.

Recently, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also indicated through a Categorical Circular that they would go to the extent of de-recognizing the Schools if any school dared to deny admission to a child with disability. This is a huge step in policy as well as in the domestic law of India - a step further to realize the mandate of UNCRPD.

We hope we will together face the challenges that might come in the way of realizing inclusive education a reality to make our nation a happier, welcoming & rights based place for its diverse population including those experiencing disability of any kind.

Regards

SC Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights
subhashvashishth@gmail.com
09811125521

Govt. brings in Notification to give equal benefit under PLI Scheme, but is that equal indeed?

Refer to my earlier post on Government seeking six week more time to bring in an appropriate insurance scheme which doesn't discriminate employees with disabilities.

After a prolonged period finally they came up with a notification on the last date of hearing which provides the maximum insurance limit up to 10 lacs as available to other employees. You can view the notification of Department of Post by clicking here: Notification dated 04th January 2010


In other words with this notification the maximum limit of insurance for physically handicapped persons has been made equal with maximum limit prescribed under Rule 3 of POIF Rules and revised from time to time to ensure non-discrimination and equality with other employees.

Consequently, POIF Rules have been amended to include Physically Disabled employees also. However, what remains to be seen is that the extra premium being charged from the employees with disabilities has yet not been addressed which would actually go on to prove that the insurance scheme is still discriminatory against employees with disabilities.

I am hopeful that they would address this lacunae also and not ask employees with disabilities to cough up extra premium for an insurance amount that is equal to other employees.

regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights

Friday, November 13, 2009

Railways continues to discriminate against Persons with Disabilities

Dear Friends,

Laws fail to work when social attitudes and mindsets are rotten, diseased and highly biased towards persons with disabilities. Defect, abnormality, less fortunate, to be dealt with pity and not equal are what prevalent in our society still!

To top the list of such organisation is Indian Railways. They refuse to abide by law. Railways is a sea with so many divisions, branches, regions and due to lack of a uniform, transparent and effective system in place, rights of people get often abused at the whims and fancies of certain officials who continue to harbor such attitudes against the citizens with disabilities. This is precisely the reason that the Railways have not been able to fill up their backlog of jobs for disabled persons in a transparent manner despite Delhi High Court orders on a PIL filed by AICB, Delhi.

The present case is of Shri Jayanta Kumar Khamari, who wanted to join Railway Engineering Service and has been forcibly given Military Engineering Service. Result declared by Railways indicates his name on page 3 rank 38. Result 2007. He is still awaiting his choice posting even after two years of clearing the Indian Engineering Service. Reason- he doesn't have three fingers in the right hand!

Any physiotherapist/occupational therapist or orthopedic surgeon would opine that if one has thumb opposition available in the hand, majority of jobs requiring fine finger dexterity can be easily performed. Also in the present case, Jayanta functionally uses his left hand as efficiently as his right hand but Railway believes he can not work efficiently and his disability will affect his work. So they came up with a plea that they don't have any post identified for such candidate.

And mind you, the gentleman is working as Junior Engineer with CPWD for past several years with no adverse remarks on productivity due to disability!

High Court of Orissa has categorically expressed in its order, "We are of the view that the action of the Railway Board to allot the petitioner to Military Engineering Service under the Ministry of Defence against the earmarked vacancy for physically handicapped candidates on the plea that no post identified for such candidate was available in Railway Engineering Service is absolutely incorrect and unjustified. The Railway Board is required to act in terms of Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995"

Hope good sense of law and human rights will prevail and Railways will make itself more receptive to diversity (read) employees with Disabilities to be contributing members of their workforce.

warm regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate & Consultant -Disability Rights
0981125521, subhashvashishth@gmail.com

Click here to read from Source: Even Rahul Gandhi Failed Me

Jayanta Kumar Khamari, an Indian Engineering Service graduate, is fighting for a job in the Indian Railway Service of Engineering. He says he was assured by many leaders, including Gandhi, but the Railways denied him his choice as he doesn't have three fingers on his right hand

Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the most powerful family in the country, can give cold feet to his veteran political opponents. Yet, there are things which are beyond his reach too. Ensuring a job with the Indian Railways, for instance.

That too, despite a High Court order in support of the applicant.

Jayanta Kumar Khamari, from Bhubaneswar, met the Congress general secretary in hope that he will be able to get justice with the young leader's intervention. However, even after receiving assurances from Gandhi, the 35-year-old Indian Engineering Service graduate continues to work in the Military Engineering Service, despite achieving 35th rank in the merit list that qualifies him for the Indian Railway Service of Engineering (IRSE).

Handicap trouble

Even the Railways has no qualms about Khamari's qualification. The problem lies in his right hand that is devoid of any fingers except for the thumb. Khamari suffered from a consumption disease in his childhood, thereby causing the amputation of four fingers in his right hand.

However, Khamari turned ambidextrous and is now able to use his left hand as efficiently as his right. But, the Railways believes the disability could become a hurdle in his way of achieving success as an engineer and therefore, he was refused his preferred choice of service.

"I appeared before the medical board, which recommended me for field work after examining my hand. The Railway Board was the nodal authority for appointment and it did not take up my case, as per my choice for the Indian Railway Service of Engineers," Khamari said.

For the last two years, Khamari has been waging a pitched battle against the alleged discrimination against him.

Even ten years of Khamari's experience as a junior engineer with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) failed to convince the bosses at the Railway Board to allow him to achieve what he truly deserved.

In the hope that the 'most powerful leader in the ruling party' (Rahul Gandhi) will ensure his choice of job, Khamari met him in August last year. But contrary to his belief in the omnipotence of the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, nothing happened.

Not only Gandhi, many others, including the Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai Rathwa, did not pursue Khamari's case.

"I met the chairman and secretary of the Railway Board. I also met Sanjay Mitra, joint secretary and Satyanarayan Sahu, director at the Prime Minister's Office but even they could not help me," Khamari told MiD DAY.

In court

The young engineer, however, did not lose hope and moved court against the alleged discrimination against his disability by the Railways. He lost in the lower courts, initially, yet continued his battle.

Now, Khamari has the backing of a favourable order by the Orissa High Court and an equally damning assessment of the discrimination by the Railways from the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD).


Long fight


Apart from a frustrating wait for what he deserved, Khamari had to face several other hardships to shuttle between Bhubaneswar and Delhi.

"When my case was pending with the CCPD, I stayed in Delhi for almost two months. During that period, almost for a month, I stayed at Jagannath temple, near IIT. And then with my friends in Jia Sarai, Katwaria Sarai and Ber Sarai," said Khamari. But, now with the High Court by his side, it seems that Khamari has finally got his 'hand of God'.

What the law says

Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 provides that the appropriate government in every establishment shall appoint such percentage of vacancies not less than three per cent for persons or class of persons with disability of which one per cent shall be reserved for the persons suffering from:
i. Blindness or low vision
ii. Hearing impairment
iii. Locomotor disability or cerebral palsy, in the posts identified for each disability.

The proviso to Section 33 of the Act states the appropriate government body is at liberty to exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section by notification. From the order of the Chief Commissioner it appears there is no notification exempting the Railway from the purview of Section 33 of the Act.

The High Court said...

"We are of the view that the action of the Railway Board to allot the petitioner to Military Engineering Service under the Ministry of Defence against the earmarked vacancy for physically handicapped candidates on the plea that no post identified for such candidate was available in Railway Engineering Service is absolutely incorrect and unjustified. The Railway Board is required to act in terms of Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. Accordingly, we direct the Railway Board to issue necessary orders in favour of the petitioner in terms of the order of the Chief Commissioner within a period of two months from the date of receipt of this order." Justices BP Ray and BP Das, September 17, 2009