[AI] Only lip sympathy for the physically challenged

avinash shahi shahi88avinash at gmail.com
Wed Sep 8 13:48:53 EDT 2010

Only lip sympathy for the physically challenged

september 8, 2010
G. N. Karna

THE recent reprimanding of the Union Government by the Supreme Court
on denial of jobs to two disabled candidates has sparked off a wider
national debate on the pace of implementation of employment-related
provisions of the existing Persons with Disabilities (Equal
Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
These judgments delivered by the Supreme Court with regard to
providing jobs to Ms Pritilata Nanda (a physically disabled woman of
Orissa, suffering from paralysis of lower limbs) against Class III
post under South Eastern Railway (SER) and Ravi Prakash Gupta (a
visually impaired candidate) as an IAS Officer are, indeed, quite
historic in disability rights movement in India.

Significantly, despite clearing a written test conducted by the
railways 21 years ago, Pritilata was denied job by the railways on
flimsy ground that her candidature was not sponsored by employment
exchange. The Supreme Court has directed the South Eastern Railway to
appoint Ms Nanda on a Class III post within two weeks with the
entitlement to the actual monetary benefits retrospectively with
effect from August 5, 2008 as also a sum of Rs 3 lakh as compensation
for harassment by the SER.

The same illogical ground was adopted by the UPSC in denying job to
Ravi Prakash Gupta, notwithstanding his qualifying the Civil Services
examination and fulfilling the eligibility conditions. The contention
given was quite vague--that there was only one post meant for disabled
persons, which included persons with other physical disabilities.

Finally, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre to grant him
posting in eight weeks. Both the judgments of the apex court are
historic and like a slap on those defiant administrators/officials
who, though are entrusted with the responsibility of implementing and
ensuring the provisions of the existing Persons with Disabilities
(Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation)
Act, 1995; they stoop to any means to nullify the implementation of
job-related statutory provisions, especially in central and state
universities, public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies (which
normally skip away by citing technical reasons under the excuse of
autonomy and excellence. Hence, these trendsetting judgments must be
an eyeopener to all such errant officials who deliberately violate the
statutory provisions meant for the disabled and disadvantaged

While in the case of Ms Pritilata Nanda, despite her being on the
merit list, the authorities showed callousness and dereliction of duty
in not issuing her the appointment letter, the appointment of Ravi
Prakash Gupta was kept blocked unduly for three years despite his
qualifying the civil services examinations.

There could be innumerable such cases where, despite clear- cut
provision of 3% job in all government establishments ranging from
Class I and II to Class III and IV posts, the employment rights of
disabled candidates are brazenly violated routinely because of
insensitivity and deep- seated prejudice on the part of those babus
who are legally mandated to ensure justice to the actual
beneficiaries. Such victimisation of the disabled candidates in
depriving job avenues has become the order of the day.

Hence, there is greater imperativeness of amending or reshaping the
job related provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal
Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995,
so as to extend the reservation facility to all category posts. Some
strict and punitive provisions for overhauling misuse in
selection/recruitment process must be put in place to deal with cases
of victimisation of the persons with disabilities in selection/
appointment process.

Given the scope for such discriminations, it is necessary that at
every selection committee, there should be one member/expert from
among the disability sector (preference be given to the expert who
himself or herself is afflicted with disability) with vast knowledge
and experience as representative of the Chief Commissioner for Persons
with Disabilities (in case of Central establishments) and state
disability Commissioners in case of state establishments. Especially
with regard to selection of the candidate(s) against the reserved
posts/vacancies, these designated representative should have the
authority to submit a dissenting note to the Chairman of the
Selection/Appointment Committee as also his/her immediate boss; which
could be deterrent to flagrant violators.

The recently constituted Committee for Drafting New Legislation for
Persons with Disabilities (by the nodal Ministry of Social Justice &
Employment/Government of India) must take special note of these
pro-active historic judgements delivered by the judiciary while
finalising the draft legislation.

Dr Karna, Honorary President of the Society for Disability and
Rehabilitation Studies, is also a Member of the Committee for Drafting
New Legislation for Persons with Disabilities


information exists to dissiminate

avinash shahi
persuing masters in political science
JNU delhi
shahi88avinash at gmail.com
phone: 98,71,18,49,04.

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