Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Uttarakhand HC: Persons With Disabilities Entitled To Horizontal Reservation Cutting Across "All Categories": HC Quashes UKPSC Recruitment Notification

High Court:   Uttarakhand High Court

Bench:              Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe

Case No. :         WP(S/B) No.49 of 2022, 

Case Title:        Manish Chauhan and another Vs. State of Uttarakhand and another

Date of Judgement:  27 July 2022


Case Brief:

The Uttarakhand High Court has quashed an advertisement issued by the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission notifying vacancies for the post of Assistant Professors in Government Colleges, finding it to be in violation of Rule 11(4) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Rules, 2017 and the Supreme Court's decision in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India and Anr.

The notification prescribed Horizontal reservation in a manner that in the Un-reserved category, no reservation was available to the physically handicapped candidates in the subject of Political Science. Similarly, in the History, no reserved seat was shown for a candidate of disability category who may also be a Scheduled Tribes candidate. 

"The manner in which the State has sought to apply Horizontal reservations is completely contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney (Supra)...Persons with disabilities are entitled to horizontal reservation cutting across all categories." the bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe observed.

The Court explained that an otherwise eligible and qualified candidate/person with disability would first be allocated a seat and depending on whichever category that person belongs to, i.e. whether the person is a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Classes, or is a General Category candidate, the seat in that category would stand exhausted.

In Indra Sawhney the Supreme Court had elucidated that Horizontal reservations cut across the vertical reservations and persons selected against this quota will be placed in the appropriate category. "If he belongs to S.C. category he will be placed in that quota by making necessary adjustments; similarly, if he belongs to open competition (O.C.) category, he will be placed in that category by making necessary adjustments."

Similarly, Rule 11(4) of the 2017 Rules prescribes that reservation for persons with disabilities in accordance with the provisions of section 34 of the Act shall be horizontal and the vacancies for persons with benchmark disabilities shall be maintained as a separate class.

In its counter affidavit, the UKPSC  submitted that their manner of working out horizontal reservation had been prescribed by the State of Uttarakhand. The Counter affidavit of State of Uttarakhand  stated that the impugned advertisement was issued in lieu of a government order dated 22.05.2020. The GO had stated that "if under horizontal reservation no eligible candidate is found fit for selection, the selection for the said post will be done as per norms of general selection except for the posts reserved for Divyang (Disabled Person)"

The Court opined that the manner in which the State had sought to apply horizontal reservations was legally unsustainable and the notification was accordingly quashed with liberty to come out with a fresh advertisement strictly in compliance with the law. 

Read the Court judgement embedded below:

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Supreme Court of India- Degree of disability no ground to deny reasonable accommodation [Judgement Included]

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud; Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Sanjiv Khanna

Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 273 of 2021 Special Leave Petition (C) No. 1882 of 2021 

Case Title: Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission & Others.

Date of Judgement: 11 February 2021  

Cited as:  2021 SCC OnLine SC 84

Cases refered/quoted

Case Brief:

On February 11, 2021, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission (Vikash Kumar) held that that an individual suffering from Writer’s Cramp or dysgraphia which is neither an identified disability in the Act nor has been certified as benchmark disability, is entitled to a scribe in India’s Civil Services’ Examination (CSE). 

The judgement is a significant step towards ensuring inclusivity for persons with disabilities as it emphatically affirms their position as rights bearers. It represents a move from a medical model of disability wherein disability is viewed as an affliction to a human rights model in consonance with the mandate of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD).

Case details:

In a landmark 62-page judgment, the Supreme Court of India has said that the principle of reasonable accommodation, spelt out in the 2016 Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, captures the positive obligation of the State and private parties to provide additional support to persons with disabilities to facilitate their full and effective participation in society. 

The Court further said that “…Cases such as the present offer us an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution in the project of creating the RPwD generation in India… A generation of disabled people in India which regards as its birthright access to the full panoply of constitutional entitlements, robust statutory rights geared to meet their unique needs and conducive societal conditions needed for them to flourish and to truly become co-equal participants in all facets of life.”

The case concerned a person with a chronic neurological condition resulting in Writer’s Cramp, or extreme difficulty in writing. He was denied a scribe for the Civil Services Exam by the UPSC, on the ground that he did not come within the definition of person with benchmark disability (40% or more of a specified disability).  The Court, in rejecting this stand, held that the petitioner was a person with disability and that provision of scribe to him came within the scope of reasonable accommodation.  The Court said ” … the accommodation which the law mandates is ‘reasonable’ because it has to be tailored to the requirements of each condition of disability. The expectations which every disabled person has are unique to the nature of the disability and the character of the impediments which are encountered as its consequence…”

In a detailed analysis of Indian and International disability law, the Court said that disability is a long-term condition which due to barriers in the environment hinders full and effective participation in society. Reasonable accommodation implies looking at the specific disabling condition and providing amenities in accordance. Examples: Blind persons need screen reading software to work on the computer, hearing impaired need sign language interpreters. Reasonable accommodation extends to all persons with disabilities, not just those with benchmark disabilities.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) argued that as per the CSE Rules 2018 a scribe could only be provided to blind candidates and candidates with locomotor disability and cerebral palsy which resulted in an impairment of function by at least 40%. The Supreme Court observed that the UPSC’s response was contrary to the reply filed by the nodal ministry in India for implementing the provisions of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act). The law had been enacted after India became a party to the UNCRPD in 2007.

The reply of the ministry recognised that there may be certain medical conditions not identified as disability per se but which have a detrimental impact on the writing capability of a person. Therefore, the onus was on the examining body, in consultation with India’s health ministry, to consider such cases for grant of scribe, extra time or other facilities, on production of a medical certificate. 

In this context, the Supreme Court noted that a ‘person with disability’ under the RPwD Act includes individuals with a ‘long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with various barriers, hinders full and effective participation in society equally with others’. The RPwD separately defines persons with ‘benchmark disability’ as those who are certified to have not less than 40% of the disabilities specified in the Schedule of the RPwD Act.

The Supreme Court opined that the higher threshold of benchmark disability could not be imposed to deny equal access to persons with disabilities contrary to the ethos of non-discrimination enshrined in the fundamental rights chapter of the Indian Constitution

The judgement clarified that the scheme of the RPwD Act imposed a benchmark disability as a precondition only for access to specific entitlements such as affirmative action as under Sections 32 and 34 of Chapter VI. In other words, the absence of benchmark disability could not be used to deny other forms of reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities. 

The bench relied upon the landmark precedent of Jeeja Ghosh v. Union of India wherein it was held that equality is not only limited to preventing discrimination but also embraces a wide ambit of positive rights including reasonable accommodation. The principle of reasonable accommodation, the Court observed in Vikash Kumar, is a facet of substantive equality set out in General Comment 6 of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Court also held that the denial of reasonable accommodation constitutes disability-based discrimination under Section 3 of the RPwD Act. The object of the provision is to ensure that persons with disabilities can overcome insidious barriers of exclusion without the imposition of a disproportionate burden. In this context, the state has an obligation to develop an appropriate environment guaranteeing equality of opportunity to persons with disabilities. Reasonable accommodation, such as the facility of a scribe, is therefore an enabling instrument for securing substantive equality.

Further, the state had raised a concern that the provision of a scribe could offer an undue advantage to persons with disabilities. In response, the Court pointed to  the absence of empirical data to hold that this argument of misuse was unsubstantiated. The unfounded suspicion, the Court also remarked, in fact perpetuated the stereotype that persons with disabilities have to resort to state largesse due to their inability to compete on a level-playing field.

Finally, the Court emphasised that it expected the government to consult persons with disabilities in a bid to democratise policy making. It remains to be seen whether such an endeavour results in lasting impact.

Read the judgement embedded below in Civil Appeal No. 273 of 2021 Special Leave Petition (C) No. 1882 of 2021 titled as Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission & Others. 

Dowload the judgement  [418 KB]

Madrash HC: Chennai Metro Stations do not meet accessibility mandate of Harmonized Guidelines - argues Disability Activist

Court:         Madrash High Court

Bench:        Admitted by Bench of M.M.SUNDRESH, J. and R.HEMALATHA, J.

Case No.     W.P. No. 11041 of 2020

Case Title:  Vaishnavi Jayakumar  Vs. State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities & CMRL

Case admitted on : 21.08.2020

Next Date: 27.07.2022

Case Brief

This Writ Petition has been filed by our colleague Ms. Vashnavi Jayakumar of Disabilty Rights Alliance, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for issuance of Writ of Mandamus Directing the 2nd respondent i.e. Chennai Metrol Rail Ltd.  to forthwith retrofit its existing metro stations to comply with the Harmonised Guidelines and space standards for Barrier Free BuiltEnvironment for persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons issued by the Ministry of Urban Development in 2016 and to strictly comply with section 41 of the Rights of persons with Disabilities Act 2016 read with Rule 15 of Rights of persons with Disabilities Rules 2017 in the design and Construction of metro Stations under Construction, including stations planned in the future.

The petitioner informed the court that the metro stations constructed by the respondent CMRL were in violation of the law and were not universally accessible. As per the petitioner, the following features needed to be included in the stations:

i. Anti-reflective flooring which contrasts with walls in colour and is non-slip in dry or wet conditions (resistance of 40-70)
ii. Wheelchair accessible ticket counter with audio induction loop for hearing aid users
iii. Accessible kiosks for blind passengers and wheelchair users.
iv. High contrast signage, displays, information tools and controls with multimodal communication
v. Sliding doors for accessible toilets
vi. Universally designed safety and evacuation equipment
vii. Tactile, high contrast way-finding
viii. Accessible parking

Through various interim orders, all the 32 Metro stations of the CMRL were access audited to see if they meet the requirements of the Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards 2016 and the respondent has been implementing the same to comply with law.

On 11 Sep 2020, the bench of Mr. Justice MM Sundresh and MRs. Justice R. Hemalatha  directed the first respondent to depute his officials to undertake inspection exercise after making inspection to the existing Metro Rail Stations and file a report on the sufficiency of the infrastructure facilities qua disabled persons. A report in this regard will have to be filed on or before 06.10.2020.

On 11 Dec 2020, the learned counsel for the petitioner had drawn the attention of the Court to Rule 15 of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Rules 2017, as well as the order of ad-interim direction dated 28.06.2016 made in WP.No. 38224/2005 titled Rajiv Rajan Vs. CMD, Metropolitan Transport Corporn (Chennai) Ltd.  and submitted that in the light of the mandate cast upon the relevant statutory provisions, it is obligatory rather mandatory upon the 2nd respondent to strictly comply with the said provisions so as to make the Metro Rail Stations as well as travel disabled friendly and prays for appropraite directions.

On 15 June 2022 the counsel for the second respondent/CMRL submitted that the matter may be taken up after six weeks so that they can take further action to comply with the Harmonised Guidelines and space standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons. It is, however, submitted that except this, necessary action has already been taken, leaving few, which would also be taken up within the period of six weeks.  

In view of the submissions made by CMRL, the respondents have been given time to take necessary action. The matter has been posted to July 27 for further hearing

Watch out this space for the developments.

Centre Govt. informs SC that it notified the standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools and separate norms for special teachers who alone can impart education and training to Child with Special Needs (CwSN) in general schools

Govt. of India has confirmed before a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar, A S Oka, and J B Pardiwala on 21 July 2022 that it has accepted the  norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools and also separate norms for special educators, who alone can impart education and training to children with special needs in general schools, as recommended by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). In its compliance affidavit filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the Ministry of Education referred to the norms and standards as per which the recommended pupil-teacher (special education teacher) ratio for regular (inclusive) school is 10:1 for the primary level and 15:1 for the upper primary, secondary and higher secondary level.

The letter also clarifies that the parity of pay and service conditions should be adhered to for special education teachers as done for general education teachers at national and state levels", it is related to respective State Governments/ UT Administrations as Education being in the concurrent list of subjects.

With this, a long pending issues have been settled and implemented regarding status of special education teachers  (under RCI) at par with the B Ed. teachers (under NCTE) and also that children with disabilities would be taught only by teachers trained under RCI and the educational insstitutions will also ensure that the teacher pupil ratio as prescribed by the RCI is maintrained to ensure quality of education and to comply with the provisons of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. 

The department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Education, had issued a letter on June 10, 2022 to the education secretaries of all the states and Union Territories (UTs), the commissioners of 'Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan' and 'Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti' wherein the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) have been circulated with a request to take further necessary action in the light of the apex court judgement and furnish an action taken report to the department.

"Since this department has finalised the norms and standards i.e PTR for special teachers/special educators who alone can impart education and training to CwSN (children with special needs) in the general schools, it is humbly submitted that this department is in the process of issuing notification by amending the 'schedule' of the RTE Act, 2009, in compliance of para 34 of the judgement dated October 28, 2021, passed by this court. It is further submitted that this process is likely to take 4 to 6 weeks," the affidavit said.

Supreme Court was hearing the complinace of its judgement passed on 28 Oct 2021 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 132/2016 titled Rajneesh Kumar Pandey & Ors versus Union of India & Ors, wherein the Court had said that the Centre must forthwith notify the standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools as also separate norms for special teachers who alone can impart education and training to Child with Special Needs (CwSN) in general schools across the country.

The bench, however, posted the matter for further hearing on August 17, 2022 asking the concerned states and UTs to submit the compliance report to the Secretary of the Ministry.

The affidavit said the committee, as formed by RCI to formulate the norms of special educators in special schools, was also requested to formulate the norms, guidelines, standards on ratio, roles, responsibilities, etc of special teachers/special educators in general schools in view of the apex court directions. It said the draft norms were submitted to the ministry by the RCI.

 RCI has also recommended and redefined the "role of special teachers", while being a catalyst to empower children with disabilities, they will undertake certain responsibilities for facilitating inclusive education. It included providing tips for making an inclusive school climate, culture, and ethos where all systems from admission to assessments, teaching, and evaluation are disabled-friendly. The letter also referred to the "outreach activities" for special teachers which include, undertaking home visits and support home training programs. The "suggested activities" for special teachers, will also include developing an annual/monthly calendar of activities for inclusion.

Here is the judgemment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court: 

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 132/2016 Rajneesh Kumar Pandey& Others VERSUS Union of India & Others. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Supreme Court follows up on implementation of its order in Disabled Right Group Vs UOI dated 15 Dec 2017 with University Grant Commission

Court: Supreme Court of India


Case No.:  BY COURTS MOTION Misc Application No  MA 1637 of 2019 in W.P.(C)No.292/2006 

(Arising out of final judgment dated 15-12-2017 in a disposed off matter W.P.(C)No.292/2006 in categories of matters 3100-Admission To Educational Institutions Other Than Medical & Engineering)

The Hon'ble Supreme court followed up on its final judgement  dated 15.12.2017 by initiating a miscellaneous application on its Own Motion on 08.08.2019 after observing that the University Grants Commission did not take sufficient steps to implement the enabling judgement desspite passage of over one and half years.

Below are various hearings in the MA.

  • 08 August 2019 - Own Motion Misc. Application initated by Hon'ble Court.
  • 25 October 2019 - The Counsel appearing on behalf of the University Grants Commission stated that a Committee has been constituted in pursuance of the judgment and he seeks two months’ time to place on the record a report indicating the action taken. Two months’ time, as prayed for, is granted.
  • 24 January 2020 - UGC prayed for four weeks time to place the report of the Committee on record. Time was granted.
  • 08 October 2021 - It was stated that the report of the UGC is ready and in fact the affidavit was also prepared, but, since there was a delay of a few days, the affidavit had to be filed with an application for condonation of delay. The Corut permitted the UGC to file its affidavit within a period of two weeks. An updated status report was directed be filed on behalf of the UGC within a period of four weeks.
  • 22 November 2021- It was stated that an updated status report shall be filed and a copy of the existing report and the updated report shall be served on all the learned counsel. It has also been stated that in order to facilitate the updated status report being submitted, necessary inspection is being carried out of the colleges.
  • 13 December 2021 - Again Two weeks’ time was granted for filing updated report of the University Grants Commission.
  • 10 January 2022 -  An updated status report has been filed by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The status report indicates that pursuant to communications addressed by the UGC, responses have been received from 334 universities and 553 colleges. The Committee which has been constituted by the UGC to prepare accessibility standards related to infrastructure, pedagogy and curriculum for educational institutions in consultation with the Chief Commissioners has initiated work.  A draft working framework for guidelines has been placed on the record. The status report indicates that visiting teams are being finalized to formulate modalities to carry out inspection of educational institutions to ensure implementation of the provisions of the RPWD Act and a Committee of experts would be set up for this purpose. The guidelines are expected to be finalized shortly, after which inspections are envisaged. The court directed the UGC to ensure that the guidelines are finalized before the next date of hearing. Work on the inspections should also commence. A status report should be filed of the progress made. The court requested the UGC to be proactive. However, in view of the current stage of the pandemic the court directed that the proceedings be now listed on 14 March 2022. Compliance shall be reported at least a week before the next date of listing. The report and guidelines shall be made available to all the concerned stakeholders and shall be uploaded on the website of the UGC.
  • 14 March 2022- It was stated that the Accessibility Guidelines have been notified on the website of UGC and suggestions to the Guidelines have been invited. The last date for the receipt of submissions is 25 March 2022. 2 Since the process of finalization of the Accessibility Guidelines is being carried out, the proceedings shall now be listed after three months so that the Court can be updated with a fresh status report. (PDF 43.4 KB)
  • 25 July 2022 - The University Grants Commission has finalized the Accessibility Guidelines. The Guidelines have been circulated to all the Universities and have been placed on the website of the UGC. The Accessibility Guidelines envisage phase-wise implementation, so as to achieve the purpose of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. The UGC shall ensure that the Guidelines are duly monitored and that periodic steps are taken to review the progress in implementation. Since the Guidelines have been framed in pursuance of the judgment dated 15 December 2017, no further directions are necessary, at this stage. The Miscellaneous Application is accordingly disposed of.  (PDF 48.6 KB)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Madrash HC: M. Gnanasambandam Vs. Govt. of India | WP No. 923 of 2007 | 05 July 2022

Court:                     Madras High Court

Bench:                    Mr.Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Chief Justice and Mrs. Justice N. Mala. 

Case No.                WP No. 923 of 2007

Case Title:             M. Gnanasambandam  Vs. Union of India 

Date of Order:       05 July 2022

This Petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to take the following measures to facilitate the effective implementation of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995: 

I. To frame and notify comprehensive Rules immediately for according recognition to various types of Schemes (Educational Institutions for the Disabled) as provided under Chapter V Education under the PWD Act. 

II. To distribute scholarships to all school going children with disabilities in time. 

III. To direct the Central and State Governments to issue notifications to make schemes to provide Aids and Appliances to persons with Disabilities. 

IV. To direct the respondents to enquire into in detail from the year 2002 onwards about the alleged violations in the distributions of Aids and Appliances under ADIP Scheme as well as Inclusive Education Programme under Sarva Shiksha Abiyan and submit a Report before this Hon'ble Court. 

V. To direct the respondents to initiate necessary punitive action against those responsible for such kinds of nefarious acts and take suitable measures to prevent such malpractices in future. 

VI. To direct the respondents to make schemes providing for medical benefits, expenses and treatment for persons with Disabilities.

VII. To direct the respondents to make provisions for terminally ill and chronically sick children with disabilities as well as adult and aged persons with disabilities for providing life ling care, protection and medical treatment free of cost, irrespective of the type of disability. 

VIII. To direct the respondents to provide with appropriate social security to the destitute and abandoned children as well as adult and aged persons with disabilities, till their death, irrespective of the type of disability. 

IX. To direct the respondents to streamline the admission of persons afflicted with mental illness in appropriate Pshychiatric Rehabilitation Centres. 

X. To direct the respondents to form a Monitoring Authority or Enforcement Mechanism at the State as well as District levels which can be empowered to supervise and report to the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioner for the Disabled about the proper implementation of the provisions of the Act in the respective States.

XI. To direct the respondents to entrust the State and District Legal Services Authority with the task of protecting the rights of persons with Disabilities. 

XII. To direct the respondents to bring all the social legislations viz., 

i. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. 

ii. The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999; and

iii. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 under one umbrella; and 

XIII. To direct the respondents to empower the State and District Legal Service Authorities to supervise the smooth functioning of the above Acts at all levels. 

The writ petition was registered as Public Interest Litigation, pursuant to the letter written by the petitioner.  Taking note of the issues raised in the petition, directions were issued by this Court while taking cognizance of the matter and sought for compliance. 

The compliance report has been submitted from time to time. Below the interim order passed on 10 December 2020. 


 After the registration of the petition, there are changes not only in terms of the position of law, but even in reference to the administrative instructions, such as Guidelines for the Government/Public transport. Rules of 2017 was introduced and Rule 15 of the Rules 2017 was applicable. The Harmonised Guidelines was also issued and thereby, there is a sea change subsequent to the registration of the case on all the issues.

In view of the above, it would be appropriate to close the writ petition with liberty to the writ petitioner to come up with a fresh writ petition if any issue remains unaddressed. There will be no order as to costs.

Read the final dated order dated 05 July 2022 embedded below: 

Madras HC | TN Govt. GO to the extent it offends RPWD Act or Provisions of Harmonised Guidelines & SC Judgement in Rajive Raturi case.

Court:          Madras High Court

Bench:         Mr. Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Chief Justice and Mrs. Justice N. Mala. 

Case No.      W.P.No. 5957 of 2021

Case Title:     Vaishnavi Jayakumar Vs. State of Tamil Nadu & two Others

Date of Judgement: 05 July 2022

The writ petition challenges a G.O.  on the ground of violation of Section 41 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It is also on the ground that when no direction has been given by the Apex Court to have only 10% of the government buses disabled friendly, G.O. indicates only 10% of the total number of Government buses to be low floor buses. 

Further to our previous post dated 22 July 2021 titled Madras HC to Tamil Nadu Govt. - No purchasing buses for public transport, unless they are disabled friendly.

On 26.08,2021, it was again submitted on behalf of the State that even though the legal requirement may not have been complied with, certain other factors need also to be taken into consideration, particularly in the wake of the pandemic and the economic loss suffered by all States, including this State. It is further submitted that though it is imperative that all buses become disabled friendly, but the disabled friendly buses cost much more than ordinary buses and require much better road conditions, particularly within the city limits, than may now be available. 

The bench however, said, "Appropriate measures should have been taken much earlier so that things would not come to such a pass. Though it can be appreciated that the pandemic has caused a severe loss and city roads may still not be viable to receive low platform heavy duty vehicles, there has to be much more acquisition of disabled friendly buses and investment in appropriate roads since the law has been in place for a considerable period of time. At the same time, some latitude may be offered so that the larger public interest is served and the blanket embargo on acquisition of buses does not completely disable the public transport system."

Matter was finally heard and disposed off on 05 July 2022, in following terms:

"the writ petition is disposed of causing interference with G.O.Ms.No.31 dated 24.02.2021 only to the extent that it offends any of the provisions of the Act or Rules or the Harmonised Guidelines issued by the Government of India and directing the respondents to ply all the Government buses, in conformity with the provisions of the Act and Rules and the Harmonised Guidelines quoted above and in the light of the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Rajive Raturi supra. There will be no order as to costs

 Read the Judgement dated 05 July 2022  embedded herein below:

Sunday, May 8, 2022

67 per cent Indian Court Complexes report they are not accessible to Persons with Disabilities.

 Dear colleagues,

The Hon'ble Supreme Court (SC) directions on 15th Dec 2017 came as a shot in arm for the efforts to make public places and builidngs accessible for persons with disabilities. But when the Supreme Court Registry compiled a report (based on the self reporting by the courts and not based on access audits by professional access auditors), that indicates only 33% court complexes claiming to be accessible and a whopping 67% court complexes are still defying the law of the land to allow equal participation and access to justice for persons with disabilities and those with age related impairments.

On January 15, 2019, Hon'ble SC had said, "More than a year has passed since the judgment was delivered. The indifferent attitude of the States and the Union Territories shows that they are not serious in complying with the directions contained in the judgment... We take strong exception to the lackluster attitude." It had given three weeks to the states and Union Terriroties (UTs) to implement its December 2017 judgment directions.

At a time when an extreme heatwave has gripped the country, judicial officers in 83% of courtrooms are sweating it out to read through bundles of case files and hear heated arguments from lawyers. For, only 17% of courtrooms have air-conditioning facilities as per the SC report. 

But, these are not the only reasons why Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana had vigorously pushed for a state level judicial infrastructure development authority, which fortunately struck a chord with the Chief ministers and the Chief Justices of the High Courts. However, Justice Ramana's proposal for a national level judicial infrastructure development authority has been pegged back for further discussions.

In a communication to the Union government, the CJI had highlighted the abysmal condition of the court complexes across the country. Toilets, essential to ameliorate pressing daily needs of lawyers and litigants, are absent in 16% of the court complexes. As many as 26% of the court complexes have no washroom facilities for women. The condition of existing toilets in most court complexes in semi-urban areas, visited by hundreds of litigants and lawyers, is nauseating.

The other deficiencies in court complexes are equally concerning: 

  • 95% of court complexes are not equipped with even basic medical facilities; 
  • 46% do not have purified drinking water facilities; 
  • 73% of courtrooms do not have computers placed on the judges' dais with video-conferencing facilities; 
  • 68% courtrooms have no separate record rooms, and, 
  • 49% of court complexes have no library.

The states need to focus on the mandate of accessibility in judicial buildings and forums so that not just physical access to amenitiess but websites, filing and pleadings, procedures, litigation could also becomee accessible to people with disabilities- whether as a judicial officer, lawyer, prosecutor, staff, litigant, witness or victim. Access to justice needs to be enssured through a coordinated effort. The Court infrastructure has its unique requirements as the hospital infrastracuture has and the public works departments or the architects, contractors and builders that are engaged for making these provisions needs to have an understanding of accessibility. Similarly the ICT infrastructure reqired at the judicial forums is also equally important that it conforms to the WCAG standards and the accessibility standards on Information and Communication Technology- for which the directions have been passed by the E-Committeee of the Supreme Court to all the High Courts of the Country. It is time to practice inclusion for real inclusion to happen. 

Related article: Times of India 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Supreme Court- FTII should make reasonable accommodation in their curriculum for candidates with colour blindness in all courses.

Court: Supreme Court of India 

Bench: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon'ble Mr. Justice MM Sunresh.

Case No: Civil Appeal No. 7719 of 2021

Case Title: Ashutosh Kumar Vs. The Film and Television  Institute of India & Anr. 

Date of Judgement: 12 April 2022


Films and Television Institute of India - Majority view of the Committee appointed by SC accepted - Individuals with color blindness should be permitted to enroll for ALL courses offered by FTII. There should be no bar to admissions to the FTII for colorblind individuals - FTII should make reasonable accommodation in their curriculum for candidates with color blindness, in all courses where there is a bar to the admission of colorblind individuals. (Para 26-35)

A Supreme Court bench directed the Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) to allow color blind candidates to take admission in all its courses. Court further mooted a proposal to make subjects that may not inclusive for such students to be made optional.

In December 2021, Ashutosh Kumar, a 35-year-old man approached the Supreme Court after being barred by the institute because he is color blind. The institute had put forth the logic that he may not be able to pass in certain subjects.

then directed the creation of a panel of experts comprising 

The top court had, instead of taking a call itself on whether colour blindness would be an aspect which would be an impediment in going through the course, it formed a committee of experts consisting of  an ophthalmologist, a film director, a film editor, a script supervisor, a head of the department from FTII, and a lawyer to analyze whether students with color blindness can be allowed to pursue a course in FTII,  to look into the issue and to facilitate a more comprehensive exercise by the Committee to opine on the aspect of colour blindness qua all the courses for which it is perceived as a disqualification. The court framed the two issues on which the opinion of the members was sought as under: 

“i. Whether the course curriculum provided for diploma in Editing can be successfully completed by the appellant who suffers from color blindness? 

Committee’s recommendations: The appellant Mr. Ashutosh Kumar who has Red and Green color vision deficiency and has color perception of CP4, as per the AIIMS Medical Board report, will have difficulty in completing the existing course curriculum of the diploma in Film and Editing course offered by the FTII. This is more particularly due to a twenty-minute ‘color grading module’ which is part of the Film Editing curriculum. However, the color grading module has no relevance to either the film editing course or to the film editor’s professional role (Mr. K. Rajasekaran, HoD Editing, FTII, does not agree that the color grading module is irrelevant to the film editing course). 

ii. To facilitate a more comprehensive exercise, the role of the committee would be to opine on the aspect of color blindness qua all the courses for which it is perceived as a disqualification.”

Committee’s recommendation: It is the opinion of the committee that :

i. It is recommended that individuals with color blindness should be permitted to enroll for ALL courses offered by FTII. There should be no bar to admissions to the FTII for colorblind individuals. Any limitation can be overcome by an assistant in educational and professional life.

ii. FTII should make reasonable accommodation in their curriculum for candidates with color blindness, in all courses where there is a bar to the admission of colorblind individuals. For example, by providing elective/optional modules in the curriculum for those core credits which may require intensive color appreciation or in any other way. 

iii. The color grading module in the existing Diploma in Film Editing Course curriculum, should either be excluded or made elective, thereby lifting the bar of admissions for individuals with color blindness.” 

Court analyzed the report filed by the panel of experts, all of whom except one had recommended that FTII should admit students with color blindness as stressing that “filmmaking is a collaborative art and shortfalls can be addressed by having assistance while making the film.”

In particular, the committee expressed that individuals with colour blindness should be permitted to enroll for all courses offered by the FTII with the following reasoning:-

(a) Film and television creations are collaborative art forms. Restricting entry of colour blind candidates to film courses may sacrifice creative talent and stultify the development of the art. Inclusivity enriches this creative art form by introducing variety, any limitation can be overcome by assistance in the educational and professional life. 

(b) It is not the role of FTII to decide for candidates their future prospects as a film/television professional. If learning limitation of the candidate can be overcome by making reasonable accommodation or with the help of an assistant, the candidate should be eligible for admission to courses offered by FTII. 

(c) Film editing is the art, technique and practice of assembling shots into a coherent sequence and the job of an Editor is not simply to mechanically put piece of a film together, cut off film slates or edit dialogue scenes. The Film Editor must creatively work with the layers of images, story, dialogue, music, pacing as well as the actors performances to effectively “reimagine” and even re-write the film to craft a cohesive whole.

Court while agreeing with their view noted that “We find ourselves with majority view of committee. Same to be adopted by FTII in its curriculum. It does not impede on their freedom but gives them a broader canvas in pioneering effort.”

Court further noted that FTII as a premier institute can put reasonable accommodation like other global institutes from whom the panel of experts sought an opinion.

it was subitted that applicant was not permitted to take up the course despite having completed six months of the course. He submitted that though he is willing to waive the first six months and start afresh again he should not have to go through the admission process again after a medical officer had cleared his eye examination.

Furthermore, counsel for the FTII submitted that it would be a difficult task to modify the entire course as the field is of technical nature and in some courses visually impaired are specifically limited from being able to pursue it.

Court on hearing the submission granted two weeks time for the institute to file its reply on this aspect and adjourned the matter to May 10. Sussequently the FTTI agreed to keep an additiona seat and grant admission to the petitioner in the session starting in March 2023 as prayed.

Access the judgement below:

Monday, December 20, 2021

Madras HC | M. Sameeha Barvin Vs. Govt. of India (Min. of Youth and Sports)

Court:         Madras High Court

Bench:         Justice R Mahadevan

Case Title:  M. Sameeha Barvin Vs.  Govt. of India (Min. of Youth and Sports) and Four Others

Case No.      Writ Petition No. 16953 of 2021

Date of Judgement : 20 December  2021


Brief Case

“Disabled women struggle with both the oppression of being women in male dominated societies and the oppression of being disabled in societies dominated by the able-bodied”  - Susan Wendell

This explains the tribulations faced by the petitioner, who finds it impossible to speak or listen, but able to achieve gold and silver medals in long jump and high jump at the State and National levels, having been denied the opportunity of participation in the Fourth World Deaf Athletics Championship, 2021, held at Lublin, Poland and being able to participate in the same only on the strength of the interim order dated 13.08.2021, on knocking the doors of this Court.

The 18-year-old M. Sameeha Barvin had moved the court alleging gender discrimination after AISCD refused to select her despite a good performance in the trials. In her petition, Sameeha said that of the 12 athletes who had participated, 10 were men and two women and she had finished first in the latter category. On seeking to know why she wasn’t selected, it was disclosed that the selection authorities were against sending a lone female member to the event. The athlete, who has 90 per cent hearing impairment, said this amounts to gender discrimination.

Justice R Mahadevan who investigated the issue said Sameeha’s effort can’t be ignored. “Even going by the past records of the petitioner, she had won 11 gold medals, one silver and one bronze in various state and national events. This achievement of the petitioner cannot be simply brushed aside,” he said. Furthermore, he stated that no female athletes were selected, and Barwin deserves to take part in the championship. 

“Admittedly, out of the five selected athletes, none of the female athlete were selected. In the female category, it was the petitioner who stood first and therefore, in all fairness, the petitioner ought to have been selected by the respondents so that she could bring laurels to the country by participating in the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championship,” the court said.

Interim order: 

The Madras High Court single bench had earlier issued an interim order directing the All India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) to permit 18-year-old athlete Sameeha Barwin to participate in the World Deaf Athletics Championship to be held at Lublin, Poland from August 23-28,2021. The representative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports had said the ministry will abide by the court’s decision. 

The Final Order:

After the detailed analysis and findings, the Court  reached the conclusion that this was a case of discrimination based on the gender as well as the disability, due to which, the petitioner  faced several difficulties and barriers to participate in the international event. The State and Central Governments, being the competent authorities to provide and ensure support and safety to the sports women with disabilities, so as to inspire their confidence freely and take part actively in the events at all levels, have failed to do the same in an appropriate manner. 

Therefore, in exercise of the power  conferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, to render substantial justice, this court issues the following directions to the respondent authorities for the purpose of streamlining the policy qua woman athletes with disabilities, in consultation with experts, so as to enable them to participate in all the events at State, National and International levels, with equality and dignity:

(i)    to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination against the women athletes with disabilities, on one or more grounds including race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

(ii)    to provide adequate financial assistance and all other requisites to the women athletes with disabilities, so as to participate in all the events.

(iii)    to follow proper selection process, so as to enable the meritorious candidates to participate in the events.

(iv)    To provide necessary training and free medical facilities to all the women athletes with disabilities, who achieve meritorious level in the respective sports for participation in all the international games.

(v)    to provide all possible means to entertain women athletes with disabilities to utilise their fullest potentials and capabilities so as to achieve success in all the events.

(vi)    to provide all the disabled friendly materials, clothes, prosthetics and other accessories that may be required by the women athletes with disabilities in day today affairs, with incentives so as to encourage and nurture their excellence in the respective sports and to participate in the events at all levels.

(vii)    to extend the financial assistance to one of the family members, who accompany the disabled female athletes to participate in the international games. 

(viii)    To give effect to the principle of reasonable accommodation by providing all assistance that are required / requested by the females athletes with disabilities so as to enable them to participate in the international games, on par with males.

(ix)    to ensure safety and security of the female athletes with disabilities during their travel, irrespective of number of participants, so as to inspire their confidence freely and take part actively in the events at all levels.

(x )    to sensitize the male counter parts and inculcate the sense of equality in their mind, so as to maintain safe environment for women athletes at all levels.

(xi)    to reward all the disabled women participants in the international games, irrespective of their achievements or otherwise.

(xii)    Must ensure that all the women athletes whether with or without disabilities, be given equal treatment on par with males, so as to enjoy full and equal rights and freedoms and to maintain their dignity.

Read the Court Order embedded below: