Every day for two years,Ravi Prakash woke up at 4 am to listen to his father on the cassette recorder. The 34-year-old visually-challenged man banked on the patient voice to teach him 23,100 pages of General Studies to crack the civil services examination in 2006.
The bureaucratic mindset,however,refused to accept Prakash,saying there was no vacancy for him.
What followed was a three-year legal battle in which the father-son duo emerged triumphant on Wednesday. A Division Bench led by Justice A K Sikri directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to appoint Prakash within six weeks and cough up a fine of Rs 25,000 for the delay.
Six other persons,including me,were listed under the handicapped quota. There were at least eight vacancies in the IAS category at the time,but the DoPT refused to consider us, says Prakash,currently employed with the Delhi Governments Training and Technical Education department.
None of the other candidates wanted to fight their case. I was left alone with my 75-year-old father to fight for what I believe I truly deserved an opportunity to serve in the civil services of this country, he recounts. Our case was initially dismissed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, says Prakash. They,however,still opted to move the Delhi High Court.
Battle won,the father of two,now recollects his struggle to come to terms with the fact that he was gradually going blind due to an irreversible condition called Retina Pigmentosa during his years as a BCom student in 1991.
It took five years for Prakash to return to academics. He started learning Braille in 1997 and also took an advanced stenography course in the script while completing his Bachelors from Kurukshetra University and later a BEd from the Delhi University in 2002.
My father mooted the idea of trying for the civil services in 2004 while I was working for the government. He was with me throughout, says Prakash,who originally hails from Panipat in Haryana.
His father,Kashmiri Lal,a retired employee of Hindustan Zinc Limited,prefers to remain in the background.
These two years of litigation has made me stronger in spirit. I will make sure I give my best , Prakash vows.