Updated: February 12, 2021 10:10:38 am
Furthering efforts to ensure equal opportunity to persons with disabilities, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to ensure framing of proper guidelines within three months to regulate and facilitate the grant of scribe facility to candidates whose nature of disability imposes a barrier to writing an exam.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna said this while holding that a civil services candidate with writer’s cramp – dysgraphia – was entitled to a scribe. The court overruled the UPSC stand that scribe can be provided only if there was “benchmark disability” as set by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment guidelines under The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
During the hearing, the ministry took the stand that writer’s cramp is not specifically included in the list of disabilities in the schedule to the Act and accordingly the guidelines are not applicable to a person suffering from it.
The SC noted that the ministry has recognised the prevalence of other medical conditions “not identified as disabilities per se” but which may hamper the writing capability of a person and had left it open to every examining body to consider such cases… in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare against the production of a medical certificate…”
Writing for the bench, Justice Chandrachud termed the “divergent views of two Central Ministries before the Court… symptomatic of a policy disconnect” and added “we express our disquiet about the fact that, in a policy matter with profound consequences for India’s disabled population, the left hand does not know what the right one is doing”.
The court held that “conflating the rights and entitlements which inhere in persons with disabilities with the notion of benchmark disabilities does disservice to the salutary purpose underlying the enactment of the RPwD Act 2016” and “worse still, to deny the rights and entitlements recognized for persons with disabilities on the ground that they do not fulfill a benchmark disability would be plainly ultra vires the” Act.
The ruling came on the plea by a 2016 MBBS graduate, Vikash Kumar, who while attempting civil services exam in 2017 was provided a scribe but denied the same in 2018.
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