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For equal treatment: On upholding rights of the disabled

  • IASbaba
  • July 17, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE/ SOCIETY

Topic: General Studies 1, 2:

  • Social empowerment 
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. 

For equal treatment: On upholding rights of the disabled

Context: Supreme Court recent judgement about disabled persons in ARYAN RAJ vs. CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION case.

What was the case?

  • A petition filed by Aryan Raj, a special needs person against the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh.
  • The college denied Mr. Raj relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course.
  • The college insisted that disabled persons too need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation to 35%.

What was the judgement?

  1. Setting aside the college decision, SC noted that SC/ST require 35% to pass in the aptitude test, the same shall apply so far as the disabled are concerned in future
  2. The Supreme Court,in a significant decision, confirmed that 
    • Persons suffering from disabilities are also socially backward 
    • Disabled are entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education
  3. Supreme Court said that it is following the principle laid down in the Delhi High Court’s judgment in Anamol Bhandari case of 2012
    • The Delhi High Court had held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least, entitled to the same benefits as given to SC/ST candidates.
    • Delhi High Court noted that Intellectually/mentally challenged persons have certain limitations, which are not there in physically challenged persons.
    • Thus, the Court had advised the subject experts to examine the feasibility of creating a course which caters to the specific needs of such persons.

Significance of the Supreme Court judgement

  • Recognition of difficulties: The apex court has recognised the travails of the disabled in accessing education or employment, regardless of their social status.
  • Disabled will be able to reap the benefits of reservation: Hitherto, candidates with disabilities were often not able to get the benefit of reservation in education and employment because of not meeting the general standards
  • Education as enabler of empowerment: The larger principle behind the judgement was that without imparting proper education to those suffering from disabilities, there cannot be any meaningful enforcement of their rights

Is there any criticism of the Judgement?

  • The judgement is seen as eliminating the distinction between the disabled and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
  • It is seen as an attempt to equate physical/ mental disability with the social disability and experience of untouchability suffered by marginalised sections for centuries

What is overarching legislative framework for protection of Disabled persons?

It is the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Some of the key features of the act are:

  • The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. 
  • It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
  • Following reservation benefits have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs 
    • Reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), 
    • Reservation in government jobs (not less than 4 %), 
    • Reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) 
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
  • Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy making bodies at the Central and State level.
  • National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities. 
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and also monitor implementation of the Act.
  • Punishments: Whoever intentionally insults or intimidates a person with disability, or sexually exploits a woman or child with disability, shall be punishable with imprisonment between six months to five years and fine.
  • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.

Conclusion

It is vital that the 2016 act & recent SC judgement be fully given effect to so that this significant segment of the population is not left out of social and economic advancement.

Did You Know?

Reservation for disabled is called horizontal reservation which cuts across all vertical categories such as SC, ST, OBC & General

Connecting the dots:

  • Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan
  • National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC)
  • Articles 15(4), 16(4A) and 46

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