The Supreme Court’s verdict in the Rajeev Kumar Gupta case has been well received by persons with disabilities, who are dubbing the Court’s instructions to the government crucial and long overdue.
The Supreme Court has once again come to the aid of persons with disabilities with its latest decision Rajeev Kumar Gupta & Others. V. Union of India. It has instructed the government to provide 3% reservation for persons with disabilities in promotions to all posts; and has expressed its dismay about the lack of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Background to the controversy
Section 32 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (the Disabilities Act) provides that the government will identify posts that will be reserved for persons with disabilities (PWDs). Section 33 states that minimum 3% reservation has to be provided for PWDs in all such posts that are identified.
The government had identified various posts from Grade A to D in Prasar Bharati for reservation for PWDs. Some of these posts were filled through direct recruitment, some through promotion and some through a mix. A departmental memorandum did not extend the reservation for PWDs to Grade A and Grade B posts that were filled by promotion. As a result, PWDs were not able to get the benefit of 3% reservation for these posts.
The employees of Prasar Bharati who were denied the benefit of reservation in Grade A and Grade B posts filled by promotion, challenged the departmental memorandum before the Court.
Photo Source: Pixabay
Supreme Court rises to the occasion
The Supreme Court struck the memorandums that did not allow reservation for PWDs in posts in Grade A and Grade B that are filled through promotion. It chastised the authorities for denying the benefit of reservations to PWDs in the posts that were identified as suitable for them.
Government identifying a post as suitable for reservation under the Disabilities Act means that a PWD is fully capable of discharging all functions associated with that post. Once identified, all appointments to such posts are then subject to a minimum 3% reservation irrespective of the mode of appointment.
The Court lamented the low representation of PWDs in government employment; a representation that is currently less than 3%.
It instructed the government to scrutinize the barriers to entry for PWDs. PWDs should be integrated into the society and be the “agents of their own destiny.”
Implications for Persons with Disabilities
Following this judgment, persons with disabilities will be entitled to 3% reservation in all government posts that are identified as suitable for such reservation.
The benefit cannot be denied to them by denying reservation in posts filled by promotion. However, reservation in employment is just the first step towards integrating PWDs into the society. The entire system has to be made more accessible and enabling, with the paternalistic attitude adopted towards PWDs being discarded for a more sensitive attitude.
This post has been authored by Swati Agrawal, Associate Director (IDIA – Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access).