The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of three per cent reservation for differently-abled candidates in civil services, not only at the stage of their appointments but also for departmental promotions.
Giving a level-playing field to more than four crore people with disabilities in India, the apex court held that the Centre, states and Union Territories were obligated to implement the rules of reservation for this class in the matters of appointment, selection, direct recruitment, deputation and also for promotions. It asked the Centre to show a big heart and give the differently-abled people their due in all central and state government jobs.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha reiterated its earlier verdict that the principle of not exceeding 50 per cent reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for differently-abled people.
The bench expressed its displeasure at the government seeking to adopt a hyper-technical approach, as its counsel pressed that three per cent reservation could be given only at the stage of appointment but not for promotion. The Persons With Disabilities Act provides for three per cent quota for the differently-abled people.
“Appointment will include promotion. You are frustrating the very reservation policy for the disabled — the class for which this beneficial piece of legislation was enacted, by arguing against it,” the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.
Anand sought to point out that the reservation at the stage of promotion may lead to huge resentment, especially among employees in Group A and Group B categories, since many beneficiaries may get ahead of their seniors.
She was placing an appeal against the Bombay High Court order, directing the government to implement three per cent reservation for the differently-abled in civil services recruitment, besides granting the benefit in the matter of promotion too. This order was issued on a PIL filed by the National Confederation for Development of Disabled, which was represented by senior advocate R S Suri and Arpit Bhargava in the apex court.
The bench, however, told the Additional Solicitor General that the objective of the reservation policy, as envisaged by Parliament, was unequivocal that the differently-abled people must get the benefits without technical impediments.
“Once Parliament prescribes for reservation in appointments, it will cover direct recruitment, promotion and even deputation. Our experience tells us that it is one legislation that has never been effectively implemented. In any case, it is a beneficial legislation and you should interpret in a manner so that they get the benefits,” said the bench.
At this, the Additional Solicitor General agreed with the bench and conceded not to press the appeal any further. The court then dismissed the appeal.
The three per cent reservation, as clarified by the apex court in its last year’s judgment, is to the extent of one per cent each for the blind, hearing and speech impaired, and persons suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.
The Supreme Court had in October last ruled in favour of a minimum three per cent reservation for them in all central and state government jobs. Regretting the denial of opportunities to the differently-abled people in the country, the court had quashed the Centre’s 2005 office memorandum and the government’s claim that the reservation policy not only had to be different for Group A, B C and D posts but the quota had to confine to “identified” posts.