Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Delhi HC: Make Foot overbridges accessible to persons with disabilities & senior citizens (Ongoing Case, NDOH 04 Dec 2023)

Court: High Court of Delhi at New Delhi

Bench: Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ, Subramonium Prasad, J

Case No:  W.P.(C) 5347/2022

Case Title: Pankaj Mehta Vs. Union of India & Ors.

Date of  Order: 29 Nov 2022

Date of Hearings (click on dates for orders) : 23 March 2023, 10 May 2023, 04 Dec 2023

Brief of the Case:

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad has asked Govt. of National Capital Terriroty of Delhi (NCTD) to inform what steps were being taken to make all foot overbridges disabledfriendly.

The bench was hearing a plea to ensure accessibility to foot overbridges and other public amenities to persons with disabilities and senior citizens where the petitioner has claimed that even where such facilities are available, they are not functional. 

The petitioner had pointed out in the petition that  these foot overbridges have been constructed on extremely busy roads and the nonfunctional state of the elevators and escalators have effectively rendered the persons with disabilities and the elderly in a state of helplessness as they are unable to access even the roads, which is prima facie violative of the fundamental rights of such citizens.

The court pointed out that as per a status report filed by the GNCTD, out of 110 foot overbridges, only 36 have mechanised assistance for disabled people like lifts or escalators. The court asked the Govt. to make some arrangements for those bridges which are not disabled-friendly.

The Counsel for the GNCTD assured the Court that within 4 months, the entire survey will be carried out and the Government of Delhi will ensure that all the 110 FOBs under the jurisdiction of PWD (GNCTD) will be disabled-friendly, meaning thereby, either lifts will be installed or ramps will be constructed and prayed for 6 months’ time to conclude the aforesaid exercise. 

The petitioner had sought directions to authorities to ensure convenience of and full accessibility to lifts, foot overbridges and other public amenities to persons with disabilities and senior citizens, and ensure compliance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. 

Read the Order of the Bench below:


Hearing Updates

23 March 2023:- Learned Counsel for the GNCTD prays for listing of the matter after two weeks as he has received some additional documents/ photographs in the matter from the Petitioner. The prayer is allowed. Learned Counsel for GNCTD shall also file a fresh status report in the matter within two weeks. List on 10.05.2023.

10 May 2023:-  A fresh Status Report has been filed. However, the same is not on record. Learned Counsel for the Respondent is grated a week’s time to place the reply on record. It is submitted by Mr. Satyakam, learned ASC for the GNCTD, that the Government is in process of making all foot-over bridges disabled friendly and for that a minimum six months’ time is required. Six months’ time is granted to the Government to do the needful. Let a fresh Status Report be filed by the Government after all the foot-over bridges are made disabled friendly. List on 04.12.2023.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Orissa HC quashes revised merit list for MBBS-BDS admission that puts disabled applicant from 5th to 33rd position.

Court:  High Court of Orissa at Cuttack

Bench: Dr. Justice B.R. Sarangi, and  Mr. Justice G. Satapathy, Justice

Case No. W.P (C) No. 28438 of 2022

Caste Title: Abhisek Bhabani Panda Vs.  State of Odisha and others

Date of Judgemement: 02.11.2022 

Case Brief:

A bench of Orissa high court quashed the revised merit list published by Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) for admission into MBBS-BDS courses saying that it can't be changed unilaterally because a right has already been accrued in favour of the candidates whose name finds a place in the final merit list.

"It is well settled in law that once the rule of the game is started, the same cannot be changed at the midst," observed the two-judge bench of Justice B R Sarangi and Justice Gourishankar Satapathy. The October 19 revised merit list was published while counselling was on after the final list was out on October 18, 2022.

The petitioner whose name found mention in 5th place in the Disability category in the final merit list, had filed a petition seeking intervention against the revised list that had put his name in 33rd position, as it reduced his chances of getting admission in a government college. 

The bench said the merit list should not have been revised causing problem for candidates. "Needless to say, the final merit list was published by the authorities in consonance with the law and pursuant to the advertisement issued by them as well as the prospectus provided for. But in the name of subsequent change of law, publication of the revised merit list in the midst itself causes great prejudice to the candidates, who had already been selected," the bench observed in the order.

"This court is of the considered view that the revised final state merit list for MBBS/BDS admission 2022-23 (after the 1st round) of OJEE-2022, dated 19.10.2022, cannot sustain in the eye of law and the same is liable to be quashed and is hereby quashed." ruled the bench.

It further ruled, "As such, the final merit list prepared by the authority vide Annexure-5 dated 18.10.2022 stands as it is, so far as physically challenged category is concerned. The opposite party nos.2 and 3 are directed to extend the benefit admissible to the physically challenged category candiates, in terms of the final State merit list published for MBBS/BDS admission 2022-23(After the 1st round) of the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE-2022) under Annexure-5 dated 18.10.2022. As the counselling is going to expire on 04.11.2022, the petitioner shall be given opportunity to participate in the counselling.

Read the order/judgement here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Chhattisgarh HC directs the PSC Raipur to appoint Visually Impaired Candidate who was denied appointment despite her merit position as the assistant did not mark her Physically Disabled in the form.

Court: Chhattisgarh High Court, Raipur

Bench: Justice Narendra Kumar Vyas

Case No.:  WP(S) 4572 of 2020

Case Title: Bhojkumari Patel Vs. Chhattishgarh Public Service Commission Raipur

Brief

The Chhattisgarh high court has allowed a writ petition, filed by a 26-year-old visually impaired girl, Ms. Bhojkumari Patel and directed the state public service commission (PSC) to issue a selection list so that the higher education department can appoint her assistant professor of political science in the ‘blind’ category. 

The bench ordered the PSC to complete the process within 15 days of receiving the order, and the higher education department to issue an appointment order to petitioner within a month. It is not in dispute that the petitioner is 90% blind, the court said, adding that she fulfils all the criteria for the appointment and even “stood in the merit position” in the exam for assistant professor (blind category), yet her appointment has been denied.

The court said the inaction of the PSC in issuing an appointment order to a person with a disability goes against the aims and object of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Bhojkumari Patel shared that she had to fight a legal battle for one and a half years to get justice because of an inadvertent error when she took assistance at a cybercaf√© to fill her application. She is hopeful of getting her  appointment order by December 2022.

The PSC had issued an advertisement on August 23, 2019, for appointments to the post of assistant professor. Patel has a masters’ in political science and cleared NET. Her blindness certificate was issued by Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS-Delhi.

Being 90% blind, she was allowed the assistance of scribes to write the examination. She secured the highest mark in her category and was selected for the interview phase. She was shocked when she didn’t find her name on the list of selected candidates. 

On inquiring, she found that the person who helped fill her application had clicked ‘no’ in the column for ‘physical disability’. Therefore, she was not selected. She then submitted an application with the PSC on June 21, 2021, for rectification of the mistake, but it was not considered, her counsel submitted in court, pointing out that her admit card clearly said she was 90% visually impaired. The court passed an interim order on July 5, 2021, for reserving one post in the physically handicapped (blind) OBC female category. 

During the pendency of the petition, the state sanctioned six supernumerary posts in the blind category on November 30, 2021, in which two were for political science. The state had asked the PSC to send the selection list against these posts, but it had not considered the case of the petitioner. 

Patel’s counsel argued that scribes are provided only when a person is more than 40% disabled, and here the petitioner is 90% blind, which has been certified by the government doctor

Friday, September 16, 2022

On Kerala SCPD's directions, Kerala University decides to permit 100% visually impaired to pursue Science Course

The Academic Council of Kerala University on 16 Sep 2022 has taken a decision to permit 100% visually impaired student to pursue BSc Physics course after an applicant, who had scored 100% marks in the higher secondary examination, was unable to submit her online application for admission and she had to subsequently petition the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. The SCPD issued an order under provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 directing the Kerala University to do the needful. 

Before the current decision of the academic council, the undergraduate (UG) prospectus of the university has thus far permitted admissions for only visually impaired candidates with less than 40% disability to Science subjects which is contrary to the provisions of the RPWD Act. 

The council factored in various impediments during the discussion, including the low availability of Physics texts in Braille and prominence of practical work in Science subjects. It was decided to extend assistance, including the provision of scribes for regular practical work and examination in laboratories. The number of experiments will also be reduced to one-third of the total that must be completed by a regular student.

It is hoped that this decision will enable more disabled aspirants to pursue higher education, particularly in Science and Mathematics in Kerala University. More Higher Education Institutes need to change their admission norms not to restrict students from admitting in the courses on the basis of their disability. On the contrary, the HEIs should focus on providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and creating a mechanism for such aspiring students to approach the HEI seeking such accommodations. 

The HEIs have to be cautious that they do not lower the course contents but enhance the support systems and better assistive technology solutions. This would be in line with the Accessibility Guidelines and Standards for Higher Education Institutions and Universities June 2022 issued by the University Grants Commission, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.

Related Source: The Hindu

Delhi HC asks Indian Railways to ensure Free of Charge Human Assistance and Wheelchairs for Travelers with Disabilities on the lines of Delhi Metro

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench:  Hon'ble Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ and  Hon'ble Subramonium Prasad, J. 

Case No. : W.P.(C) 5666/2017

Case Title: Court on its Own Motion Vs. Union of India & Ors 

Date of Order: 16.09.2022

Brief.

The Delhi High Court has asked the Indian Railways to make all possible endeavours to ensure free of charge human assistance and wheelchair are provided to people with disabilitis at its stations on the lines of Delhi Metro. 

"The respondent shall also make all possible endeavours to ensure that free of charge human assistance and wheelchair is provided to differently abled persons", said the bench.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma sought a fresh status report from the authorities with regard to an earlier order on reserving some lower berths for persons with disabilities as well as giving free assistance to them, and said such facilities should at least be provided at the busy stations.

Noting that these facilities are being provided by the Delhi Metro as well, the court added the state-run transport behemoth shall certainly make all endeavours to make these available at maximum number of railway stations. It is not a big deal, at least in busy railway stations. At least in the four metros and class A cities it can be provided, the court said.

The order was passed on a PIL initiated by the high court onits own motion in July 2017 after after coming across a news report that the door of a special compartment for the disabled in the Gorakhdham Express was shut, with the result that the visually-impaired man missed his M.Phil entrance exam as he could not board a reserved compartment since it was locked from inside. 

Senior advocate S K Rungta, who has been appearing as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter, told the bench that at this stage not much was required by way of attachment of coaches and reservation of seats for the differently abled but providing free escort and wheelchair was still an issue.

Mincing no words, the court had said it was shocked over complete apathy of the Railways in treating its physically challenged passengers by placing the compartments for the disabled at end of the trains and providing little or no help for access. The court had also said it will explore the possibility of compensation for the youth "who has undergone so much trauma for the callous disregard of his rights."

The matter has been adjourned to 07 December 2022.

Read the Order embeded below:-


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Punjab and Haryana HC- Insulting a spouse for his physical disability amounts to mental cruelty for the purpose of seeking divorce

Court:  Punjab and Haryana high court at Chandigarh

Bench:  Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta

Case No(s): FAO-M-190 of 2010 (O&M) and FAO No. 3554 of 2016

Case Title: Karamjit Singh Vs. Davinder Kaur

Date of Judgement:  13 September 2022

Act /Law: Matrimonial Dispute/ Divorce matter under section 10,11,12,13,13A & 13B OF Hindu Marriage Act

Brief Synopsis

Mocking and insulting spouse for disability amounts to mental cruelty and the affected party can be granted divorce on this ground, as per the recentl judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.

The high court passed the order while allowing an appeal filed by a man whose wife tauntingly called him, a “lula-langra” (a derogatory term used for a physically-challenged person) in front of his family and friends.“There is sufficient evidence on record in form of the above-mentioned testimonies where it is established that the respondent ill-treated the appellant for his handicap. 

"Taunting a person for his handicap constitutes the most inhumane kind of cruelty ,” the bench held,  while allowing an appeal filed by a man from Punjab's Hoshiarpur district against the order dated April 21, 2010, passed by the Hoshiarpur family court, whereby his petition seeking divorce from his wife was dismissed.

The couple was married in March 2004 at Nakodar as per Sikh rites and they had one son later. The appellant husband was disabled as a result of polio during childhood. After around 8-10 days of marriage, his wife started insulting him, mocking him publicly for his physical disability, and tauntingly called him 'lula-langra' in front of his family and friends. She even used to snatch his crutches and physically throw him on the ground in the presence of his friends and relatives. 

As such, the appellant was undergoing tremendous mental agony and trauma, as well as physical abuse. In September 2004, she left the appellant's company and started living with her family. Even their son was born at his in-laws' house. According to the appellant, he tried his best to bring her back, but she never returned. Finally, in 2008, he filed a divorce petition before the family court, which was dismissed. 

In his appeal against the family court's decision, the appellant-husband argued that the lower court had committed a grave error in overlooking the testimonies of these above said witnesses wherein each of them categorically deposed that the respondent used to insult him in their presence and use derogatory words and taunts against him, as well as physically manhandled him and made him a laughing stock due to his physical disability which resulted in mental cruelty to him. The appellant's wife, however, denied all the allegations.

After hearing all the parties the bench observed that it is not in dispute that the parties have been living separately since 2005. Thus, it is a dead marriage for all intents and purposes. Admittedly, all mediation attempts between the parties have failed. Therefore, this marriage is a mere legal fiction surviving only on paper.

The bench also observed that the family court order is silent over the fact that the wife had not just taunted the appellant for his physical handicap, but also pushed him around and threw him on the ground by pulling away his crutches.

"Accordingly, the findings of the Hoshiarpur court in this regard are held to be erroneous and contrary to the evidence on record, and are as such, reversed," observed the HC while granting divorce. The bench, however, has ordered the man to pay an amount of Rs 25 lakh to his wife as a full and final settlement for her and their son's maintenance.

Read the embedded order below:

Andhra Pradesh HC- Disability acquired during employment makes employee entitled to continued alternate employment; Also entitled to backwages & arrears for interregnum period as Corportation failed to dischare its statutory duty

Court: Andhra Pradesh High Court, India

Bench: Hon'ble Sri Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari

Case Number: Writ Petition No. 5486 of 2011

Case TitleSri Ch.S. Rajeswara Rao Vs. Govt., of A.P. rep. by Principal Secretary, Transports Department and others.

Date of Judgement: 14 September 2022

Judgements cited/reffered: 

(a) Bhagwan Dass and another vs. Punjab State Electricity Board [2008(1) SCC (L&S) 242]

(b) K. Moses vs. A.P.S.R.T.C [W.P.No.3031 of 2008 decided on 01.11.2010]

(c) Laxmi Kant Sharma vs. State of U.P and 5 others.  [2018 LawSuit (All) 1355]

(d) Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation rep., by its Managing Director and others vs. B.S. Reddy

(e) Kunal Singh Vs. Union of India (SC judgement 13 Feb 2003 in Appeal (civil) 1789 of 2000)

Brief

The petitioner was working as a Conductor in the Corporation. He was appointed as a casual labour in April, 1984 and his services were regularized in the year 1987. While he was on duty, he met in an accident and undergone a surgery of spinal cord in which his two discs were removed. On the ground of medical unfitness he was retired from the service on 21.07.2001. 

Challenging the order dated 21.07.2001 the petitioner filed Case No.165 of 2005 before the State Commmissioner for Persons with Disabilities. The Commissioner vide order dated 25.09.2006 allowed the said case, setting aside the impugned proceedings dated 21.07.2001 and directed the Corporation to consider the petitioner’s claim de-novo in the light of Section 47 of the Act, 1995. The petitioner was, therefore continued as conductor and his services were utilized at Bus Pass Station, Governorpet-I Depot vide orders dated 15.02.2007 and 21.02.2007. 

The present dispute is for payment of salary from 21.07.2001 upto 21.02.2007 during which period the petitioner remained out of service on account of his retirement imposed by the Corporation on the ground of medical unfitness. 

The petitioner submitted that in view of the statutory provisions of Section 47 of the Act, 1995, the petitioner ought to have been offered alternative employment to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits. The petitioner is entitled to receive the salary for the interregnum period.

The Bench highlighting the benevolent provisons of section 47 said, "Section 47(1) is clear in terms that "no establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service. The proviso to Section 47(1) in fact confers a right on an employee, who acquired disability and was declared unsuitable for the post he was holding, for being shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits. By that proviso, not only the alternate employment but also the pay scale and the service benefits are also protected."

The bench further said, "so far as the payment of arrears of salary for the period in question is concerned, the petitioner was not at fault for not discharging the duties during the interregnum period for which the corporation was responsible as it failed to discharge its statutory duty. The petitioner cannot be deprived of the salary for the period claimed and cannot be made to suffer for the fault of the corporation. Under the Act, it was the statutory duty of the Corporation not to throw the petitioner out of service but to provide the alternative employment to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits and if there was no such post available the supernumerary posts should have been created.

Citing the case of State of U.P Vs. Dayand Chakravary and others [(2013) 7 SCC 595], the Hon’ble Apex Court held that the principle of ‘no work no pay’ shall not be applicable to such employee who is prevented by the employer from performing his duties as the employee cannot be blamed for having not worked.

Allowing the writ petition, the bench directed the respondent Corporation to pay full salary to the petitioner for the period w.e.f  21.01.2001 upto 21.02.2007 after calculating the same as per the pay scale applicable to the post of Conductor for the relevant period. It further directed that the arrears shall be paid within a period of two months from the date of production of copy of this judgment before the respondent-Corporation along with simple interest thereon @ 6% p.a w.e.f 21.02.2007 upto the date of payment. If consequent upon the addition of the increments as aforesaid for the aforesaid period, some more arrears of salary become due to the petitioner for subsequent period also i.e after 21.02.2007, the same shall also be paid to the petitioner after adjusting the amount of salary paid to the petitioner, within the same period as aforesaid.

Read the judgement embedded below:

Delhi HC clears the way for a disabled doctor to appear in the PG medical counselling

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Mr. Justice Sanjeev Narula

Case No.:    W.P.(C) 12653/2022

Case Title:  Laxmi Vs. Union of India & Ors

Date of Order: 14.09.2022

Next Date of Hearing: 22 Nov 2022

Case Brief:

Ms. Laxmi, a disabled MBBS student who was declared ineligible to pursue a course at the postgraduate level has been given the clearance by Delhi High Court to appear in the PG medical counselling.

The petitioner, who completed her MBBS course from Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Gorakhpur has polio in her lower left limb.  But, the Safdarjung Hospital declared her 100% disabled and rejected her to get a clearance certificate. For NEET PG counselling after completion of MBBS, PwD students need a certificate from one of the specific centres.

Laxmi went to the Centre Govt-run Safdarjung Hospital onAugust 24, 2022 to appear for the disability test. She uses an orthotic caliper, owing the polio. However,  the examiners asked her to remove it and walk, which she couldn't do. thus she was declared 100% disabled. As per the existing rule, a PwD candidate with 40-80% disability is allowed for PG courses.

She thus filed a petition in the Delhi High Court. The single bench presided  by Hon'ble justice Sanjeev Narula,  directed AIIMS to constitute a board of experts to assess the disability of the MBBS doctor. A team of three doctors was constituted to examine her who opined as under:

"Candidate Ms. Laxmi was assessed without and with lower limb orthosis. She was found to have improved ambulation and stability with Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (KAFO) with compensation for shortening in left lower limb. With orthosis the disability becomes less than 80% (Eighty Percent). She would be able to perform the functions expected from a post graduate specialist doctor with use of an appropriate and well fitting orthosis."

Similar ableism was on display in a recent case decided by the Allhabad HC, where a candidate who used tri-cycle was forced to ride a bicycle which was the essential qualification for the post. The candidate had expressed that he could ride a tricycle with equal efficiency as a cycle, however, the albleist Principal did not even consider his candidature. Though no major relief came his way due to a prolonged litigation and lapsed time, the court however, decided that it was clearly a case of violation of human dignity and awarded a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the affected petitioner.

In the instant case, since some of the reliefs sought in the petition survived and required consideration, the court isssued notices to respondents with next date of hearing as 22 Nov 2022. The matter was successfully argued by Adv Gaurav Bansal, for the petitioner.

Earlier the Doctors with Disabilities : Agents of Change, a group of Indians Health Professionals with Disabilities shared on its facebook group  on 03 Sep 2022 the detailed timeline of challenges faced by Dr. Laxmi due to #AbleismInMedEd and revelations from the responses to the RTI filed by Dr. Satendra Singh, a doctor with disabilities himself at link here reproduced below: 

"An MBBS lady doctor with 45% disability in the left lower limb according to Govt of India's UDID (and another disability certificate from prestigious KGMU) was declared 100% disabled by Safdarjung Hospital's medical board for NEET PG headed by Dr Suman Badhal (Prof PMR), Dr Ajay Gupta (Prof PMR), Dr Arun Kumar Pandey (Astt Prof, Ortho) and thus crushed her dream to do specialization. There may be some doubt about assigning a percentage between 40-50 or 30-40, but declaring someone 100% disabled with only polio in one leg is unjustified. 

The VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital medical boards have been dubbed "harassment centres" by candidates with disabilities, and there is evidence that this hospital is fond of declaring candidates "100% disabled". It is highly unlikely to get a 100% disability certificate until and unless both limbs are involved.

2020: A candidate from Meerut with a 50% disability because of polio (no braces) was declared 100% by this board & denied admission. Poor person could not file case.

2019: A candidate from Bijnor with same 50% disability because of polio was also declared 100% & rejected. He studied again, cleared NEET UG, went to a different centre & now doing MBBS third year.

2019: A MBBS doc on crutches (50% disability) working as a JR in the PMR Dept of RML Hospital was declared ineligible in NEET PG after declaring > 90% at Safdarjung. He is now doing MD Dermatology in Rajasthan.

2019: Another lady doctor with MBBS was denied admission. "I did everything they asked for, including sitting on the floor and crossing my legs, despite delivering a baby two weeks ago". Dejected, she went to another centre, got admission and finished MD Pediatrics successfully last week and awarded by State Govt.

Let's see the competence of these "experts". Dr Satendra Singh filed an RTI asking what guidelines they follow. My RTI Question No. 7: Kindly provide the details of all the tests done by doctors to assess NEET candidates with locomotor disabilities. Which guidelines are followed by them? Please provide a copy of that as well. The response by PMR Faculty as CPIO: "Please refer to standard text books of Medicine on guidelines." The gazette guidelines on assessment exist but Prof Gupta follows some ‘textbook of medicine’ and he is a constant in all of these rejections. Moreover, this competent board is not even aware of how to issue this certificate. After Dr Satendra Singh's PIL, the National Medical Commission issued an addendum that those with more than 80% disability may be considered eligible on functional competency with the help of assistive devices. There is no mention of that in the issued certificate. This premier hospital does not even have an Equal Opportunity Policy mandated under the law (See RTI response).

For how long will such unprofessional and unethical practices go unchallenged? The Delhi High Court has already issued directions for re-assessment at AIIMS, Delhi for this woman doctor, but what about many others who have been constantly rejected without rationale after successfully doing MBBS and who can not afford to go to court? The objective of these screening centers should be to assist candidates with disabilities and provide reasonable accommodations, as being done by the General Medical Council of the UK. However, they choose to harass their own fellow doctors."

Read the order embedded below:

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Allahabad HC stays the recruitments to Teaching Posts in Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University for non compliance to reservation provisons of RPWD Act

Court : Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench, UP, India

Bench: Hon'ble Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya, J. & Hon'ble Shi Prakash Singh, J.

Case No. :  WPIL (L) No. 185 of 2022 (Public Interest Litigation)

Case Title: All India Confederation Of The Blind Delhi & Another  Versus   - State Of U.P. Thru Its Addl. Chief Secy. Divyangjan Sashaktikaran Vibhag, Lko And Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University 

Date of Order: 08 Sep 2022

Next Date of Hearing: 09 Nov 2022.

Brief Case:

The rights of Persons with Disabilities often fall in to the cracks that exist between words and deeds in policies and actions of various statutory bodies. A recent case in point is Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University in Lucknow, U.P. which according to its own website is "The first University of its kind, which also provides accessible and quality higher education to challenged students, in a completely barrier-free environment."

However, early during this year it was observed by the petitioner organisation All India Confederation of the Blind that the noble statements  of the university were mere words as in its advertisement for 107 vacancies, not a single vacancy was reserved for Persons with Disabilities and not just that- the University even one appointment against the teaching posts. This is in a University which has its mandate to primarily "serve the differently-abled segment". 

The petitioners alleged that the university issued advertisements in 2020- 2021 for appointment on 16 posts of professor, 27 of associate professor and 64 of assistant professor in various subjects which summed up to 107 vacancies wherein but it failed to reserve four per cent vacancies for persons with benchmark disabilities of which 1% vacancies were not reserved for blind persons.

After several hearings, finally on 8th September, 2022, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court expressed serious concern over Dr Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University's failure to provide adequate quota to the disabled with regard to about 107 teaching posts advertised in 2020- 2021 . The university has assured the bench that till the entire matter was revisited and final decision was taken in respect of reservation of vacancies in terms of the provisions contained in Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and the relevant government orders, no selection pursuant to the advertisement in question would take place. 

At this, the bench said, "We expect and hope that the university authorities shall pay attention and consider the entire matter not only in terms of the legal provisions, but by observing some empathy for the reason that the university itself has been created and formed for larger benefits of differently abled persons." 

A bench of Justice DK Upadhyay and Justice Shree Prakash Singh passed the order on a PIL moved by All India Confederation of the Blind, Delhi through its secretary Gauri Sen and National Association of Visually Handicap. The bench on a previous hearing had expressed concern that no reservation was provided against the advertised posts though the university was primarily established for benefit and rehabilitation of differently abled persons

The bench also said that an appointment made by the university for the post of professor in Hindi department would be subject to final decision of the instant petition. The bench also directed the registrar of the university to have an audience of the petitioner's counsel and an intervener on the issue.

Matter is now listed on 09 Nov 2022. 

Read the Order dated 08 Sep 2022 embedded below:


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Allahabad HC directs compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for violation of human dignity of a person with disability during recruitment exercise

Court: Allahabd High Court, UP, India 

Bench: Hon'ble Saumitra Dayal Singh,J.

Case No. : Writ - A No. - 18302 of 2021

Case title - Pradeep Kumar Gupta v. State Of U.P. Through Secretary ( Higher Education) And 4 Others 

Date of Order: 31.08.2022

Case Brief 

The petitioner who is 56-year-old and a person with disability having 50% locomotor disability, had applied for the post of a Library Peon at a Government Degree College in Saharanpur. The essential qualifications for the said post prescribed were Class V pass and ability to ride cycle. 

He was called for an interview, however, in the interview, the petitioner was not evaluated and he was purportedly asked to leave as he could not ride a bicycle. The principal forced the petitioner to ride a bicycle though he expressed he could ride a tricycle with equal efficiency. Subsequently, a higher educational qualification (for the post of Library Peon) of High School was insisted and since the petitioner did not hold that qualification, he was excluded. 

The petitioner thus moved to the High Court claiming the violation of his rights and alleging humiliation caused to him, mainly by the then Principal of the Government Degree College, who interviewed him. He also alleged hostile discrimination having been practised by the State respondents and a complete violation of his special rights under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. 

He also argued that only to deprive him of an opportunity of employment, the selection process was stalled and higher educational qualification (than that possessed by the petitioner), was pressed so that the petitioner could be excluded from the zone of consideration. 

The petitioner also had escalated the issue and lodged complaints, as a result, the Regional Employment Exchange (Divyangjan), Meerut Division instituted an enquiry into the allegations levelled by the petitioner. It submitted report dated 23.11.2007 confirming the allegations as true.

Thereafter the court/office of State Commissioner (Divyangjan), exercising powers vested under Section 82 of the Old Act directed the District Magistrate, Saharanpur and the Additional Commissioner (Divyangjan), Saharanpur, to institute a magisterial enquiry into the complaint made by the petitioner. Admittedly, the magisterial enquiry was conducted and its report submitted on 09.09.2019. In that, the Magistrate found the fact allegation made by the petitioner to be correct.

Also, upon receipt of direction issued by the court/office of State Commissioner (Divyangjan) dated 23.05.2019, the District Magistrate, Saharanpur, acting as the Additional Commissioner (Divyangjan), Saharanpur, made his own enquiry and passed an order dated 30.11.2019, confirming the allegations of the petitioner as true and recommending action agaisnt respondents.

At that stage and in view of the order dated 30.11.2019 passed by District Magistrate, Saharanpur, the petitioner withdrew his earlier writ petition No. 17917 of 2007, in belief of appointment thus assured to him.

However, the above order was assailed by the then Principal of the Government Degree College, Deoband, Saharanpur, in Writ – A No. 1975 of 2020 (Ashok Kumar Sharma Vs. State of U.P. & 3 Ors.). It transpires, in the course of those proceedings, office of the District Magistrate/Additional Commissioner (Divyangjan), Saharanpur, vide further order dated 17.02.2020 withdrew in entirety its earlier order dated 30.11.2019.

Thus the petitioner again approached this court with the present petiton at a delayed stage.

Court Order

The Court, affirming the importance of human dignity, the granted a sum of Rs. 5 Lakh as compensation to the petitioner. While partly alowing the petition of the petitioner Pradeep Kumar Gupta, the court remarked, "The amount of compensation has been awarded to let the petitioner know, the State may take time to hear & understand its citizen and his plight but, it is neither deaf nor heartless as may ever remain indifferent, forcing him to drag his feet, almost literally, to this Court to seek justice. The citizen works at the heart of the giant being the State is. Unless the heart beats freely, the being cannot thrive." 

The Court expressed that the state was liable to compensate its 'special citizen' whose dignity was violated as he was humiliated at the instance of the State authorities, for no fault of his. The Court also emphasized that the State and its functionaries had failed to protect him, and the act of humiliation was against the mandate of the Constitution. 

"...the State and its functionaries have not only failed a special citizen but also violated his fundamental right to life and liberty - for what worth is human existence if it is denuded of dignity and respect deserving its cherished existence. Deprived of dignity, liberty is a sea-shell washed to the shore, dead and of ornate value for others but worthless to the being that used to live within it," the Court further observed.

The Court also added that the respondents are generally at fault in not providing for identification and reservation of adequate posts for persons with a locomotor disability at Government Degree College at Deoband, Saharanpur.  The Court called it "most disturbing" that instead of apprising him of the fact regarding non-availability of reservation, he was unfairly asked to ride a bicycle which he obviously could not. 

In any case, the Court opined, in absence of a specification of 'bicycle' in the advertisement, the petitioner should have been allowed to ride a 'tricycle' which also qualifies as a cycle. In other words, the Court clarified, that if otherwise eligible, the petitioner should have been allowed to compete as a General Category candidate. 

The court directed the State  to pay the petitioner, a lump-sum compensation assessed at Rs. 5,00,000/-  directly into his Savings Bank Account within a period of three months.

Read the order embedded below: