Weekly Current Affairs

SC rues barriers for disabled in govt. service [Social Justice]

  • The Supreme Court has asked government to investigate the “barriers” preventing disabled persons from entering government service, especially into the higher ranks, despite a 21-year-old law making it the state’s obligation to provide them at least three per cent reservation in public sector jobs.
  • Intent is to turn persons with disability (PWD) into ‘agent of their own destiny’.
  • The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 was enacted to fulfill India’s obligations under the ‘Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of the People with Disabilities in the Asia and Pacific Region’.
  • Very low numbers of PWD (much below three per cent) are in government employment long years after the 1995 Act.
  • Dismissing the government’s argument that “providing for reservation [for disabled persons] in higher-level posts is constitutionally impermissible,” the court observed that the basis for preferential treatment is solely their physical disability and not factors banned by the Constitution like caste and religion.
  • The case dealt with the legality of two office memoranda issued by the Department of Personnel and Training in 1997 and 2005 placing an obstacle in the way of disabled persons entering the upper strata of the public broadcasting corporation, Prasar Bharati.