The Bombay High Court Wednesday directed an expert committee set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to look into the issue of quantification of learning disability (LD) in terms of percentage. The committee has been set up to look into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014. The Bill will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
“The expert committee set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment should consider the issue of the percentage of learning disability,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A K Menon. The HC said that the committee should consider this issue even if it did not come under its existing guidelines. The HC was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation by two psychiatrists. The PIL stated that on March 25, parents of children with LD had received a letter from the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), saying students would not be granted a writer, but would be granted extra time.
The definition of a person with disability is that he or she should be suffering from 40 per cent disability. The state government had said that it could not give a certificate to say whether persons with LD had less or more than 40 per cent disability.
The court also directed the state to set-up one full-fledged Learning Disability Centre per district as there were only four such centres in the state. “We direct the state government to set up one Learning Disability Centre per district and have more such centres in Mumbai and Pune,” said the high court. One such centre should cater to one lakh population of LD students, said the court. A committee mainly comprising of experts will provide technical assistance to the government for setting up such centres.
Two experts have also been asked to work on a standard format for learning disability so that the centres can issue certificates based on the recommendations made by these experts. A report by the school education department on students with learning disability records that as per the data of Unified District Information of School Education (U-DISE), there are a total 37191 students with learning disabilities in general schools in the state in classes I to VIII.