Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Madrash High Court questions Commissioner Disability on unfilled backlogs and shoddy implementation of PWD Act

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to inform you that Hon'ble Justice S. Manikumar of  Madras High Court has taken the State Government and even the Commissioner Disabilities to task for not implementing reservations in employment and not clearing the backlog in employment of Persons with Disabilities. Hon'ble Justice has further sought for details of the action taken against institutions which had failed to employ physically challenged on one pretext or the other.

One wonderful intitiative on the part of the Hon'ble Justice! And mind you, almost all dailies today are singing about what Ms. Jaylalita's Government has done for the disabled, to name a few:

(a) 20 early intervention centres for Visually Impaired childrein in age group of 0-6 years in 20 districts at 2 crores rupees cost
(b) Age limit of 45 reduced to 18 years to avail pension.
(c) Free vocational training in all 32 districts benefiting 2400 disabled
(d) Cash awad to pursue high education to Hearing impaired students
(e) Monthly maintennace allowance from Rs. 500 to 1000 to severally disabled

 You will appreciate there is nothing about employment for the disabled and filling up the backlog vacancies reserved for them under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. The Government seems only wanted to keep the disabled alive on some paltry sum of pensions an some vocational training. The education grants of no use if the Government is not serious in including them in the employment which is evident from the records.

I welcome this step and congratulate the residents with disabilities of Tamilnadu to have such a progressive Justice in the High Court of Madras.

Here is the media coverage from the Hindu:


Court takes on the role of messiah

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S

Thousands of physically challenged people awaiting government jobs could heave a sigh of relief now as the Madras High Court has taken upon itself the task of making every State Government department, undertaking, university and other such organisations follow the statutory reservation of 3 per cent in letter and spirit.

Passing interim orders in a batch of writ petitions, Justice S. Manikumar has directed the Commissioner for Differently Abled to submit in court by June 9 an exhaustive list of details including the backlog vacancies that need to be filled up in every government institution ever since the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act came into force in February 1996.

The judge also wanted the Commissioner to explain why the reservations for the physically challenged had not been implemented uniformly across all government controlled institutions even after 16 years since the Central enactment was passed.

He further sought for details of the action taken against institutions which had failed to employ physically challenged on one pretext or the other.

Expressing deep concern over this attitude of the government officials, the judge said: “If some vacancies meant for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or Most Backward Classes are left unfilled, many organisations, associations and even political parties would raise their voice, protest and agitate. But it is not so in the case of the differently abled. May be because, they do not command such a position in politics.”

He pointed out that as of March 31, 2011, a whopping number of 98,295 physically challenged people were in the ‘live register' of Employment Exchanges awaiting their chance for a government job. But unfortunately, they have been denied of their statutory right despite many court orders including the one passed by the First Bench of the High Court in a public interest litigation petition on February 17, 2011.

Mr. Justice Manikumar pointed out that the State Government had taken 10 years, since the legislation was enacted, even to begin identifying the posts meant for the physically challenged in Group A and B categories in the State Civil Services. The work began only in 2005 though it should have been kick started in 1996 itself and reviewed at periodic intervals not exceeding three years.

Thereafter, a series of meetings were held by the Union Ministry of Social Welfare and details were called from heads of various departments and boards, corporations and companies owned and controlled by the government. But many of them evaded from submitting the details.

It was also found that certain universities and educational institutions, in particular, had not followed the reservation policy.

“Right to live with dignity is a human right. Many of the disabled in India live in poverty and without employment, though educationally qualified. Delayed implementation of the statute is a deprivation of their statutory and Constitutional rights… Let us not forget that even a differently abled person would earnestly believe and expect that the words spoken and written be honoured,” the judge said.

He concluded by quoting Hellen Keller who said: “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.”

Though the present batch of writ petitions related to approval of three teachers appointed in C.S.I. High School for the Deaf at Kottaram in Kanyakumari district, the judge went beyond the scope of the case in order to ensure strict implementation of the 1996 Act.

Source: The Hindu

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