Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not providing reservation for disabled in Higher Judicial Service amounts to Discrimination - rules Delhi HC

A Division bench of Delhi High Court presided by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar observed that arbitrary denial of 3% reservation for persons with disabilities in terms of The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995,  would amount to discrimination.

Writing judgement in the case titled W.P.(C) 983/2014 Nishant S. Diwan Versus High Court of Delhi on 25th March 2014, , the bench observed that the Disabilities Act made it mandatory for all government organisations to reserve at least 3 per cent vacancies for the disabled and that the decision of the High Court administration to not include the disability quota in the upcoming direct recruitment process for the Delhi Higher Judicial Services was “arbitrary and discriminatory”.

The bench also struck down the argument that a five-judge committee on 09.03.2007, made no recommendation in respect of DHJS while making recommendation about the DJS (comprising of civil judges and magistrates only) saying that the Committee had considered the proposal in the background of whether to provide for reservations in DJS and there was no explicit reference to DHJS.

To access the Judgement pronounced on 25 March 2014 click link here: Delhi High Court Judgement in W.P.(C) 983/2014 Nishant S. Diwan Versus High Court of Delhi

Click here to access the Supreme Court Judgement in Civil Apeal No. 9096/2013 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 7541 of 2009) titled Union of India and Anr  Versus National Federation of Blind and others.

The court has also directed the establishment to carry out a review of the remaining number of vacancies in the DHJS that can be “appropriately earmarked for those with disabilities according to the total number of sanctioned posts”, following which it could recruit the appropriate number of persons in the next round of recruitment.

The court has directed the administration to carry out a “special recruitment procedure” for only the earmarked vacancies falling to the share of those entitled to be considered under the 3 per cent quota under the Disabilities Act, within a year of the date of declaration of results in the current recruitment process.

DHJS refers to appellate courts, which exercise appellate authority over the lowest level of judiciary. Direct recruitment to DHJS is done through an examination held by the High Court Establishment (HCE).

The HCE had issued an advertisement for recruitment to 14 posts in December last year, setting aside four seats for SC/ST candidates and 10 for general category. The examination for these seats is scheduled to be held on April 6.

The order was given on a plea filed by an advocate who is a person with locomotor disability, who had alleged that non-inclusion of disability quota in the DHJS recruitment was “contrary to the express provisions of the Disabilities Act”.

Advocate Nishant S Diwan, who has been practicing as an advocate since 1998, had also argued that the HCE was “under a duty to set-apart appropriate number of posts having regard to the total cadre strength of 224 posts in DHJS”.

The HCE had taken the decision that the disability quota would not apply to the DHJS recruitments and would only apply to the magistrates and civil Judges, since the notification issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had mentioned only “magistrates of the subordinate judiciary”. The HCE had also taken the plea that since the examination was scheduled for April 6, imposition of any quota at this late stage would “upset the entire timeline and delay the recruitment process”.

The court held that “there can be no difference for reservation under the Disabilities Act” between the DJS and the DHJS since the DHJS officers perform duties and functions similar to those in DJS.

The court directed the administration to set aside one of the 14 posts for persons eligible under the disability quota, but has directed that the seat should be kept vacant and should be clubbed with the next round of recruitment.

Since as per the Supreme Court judgement in UOI Versus National Federation of Blind, it is clarified that the section 33 is independent of Section 32 for making reservation, the Hon'ble Court should have also passed directions to calculate the backlog of the total vacancies since 01 Jan 1996 and not reserving one seat in the present recruitment process.

Also the list of identified posts makes a mention that posts with different nomenclature but with similar functions out to be reserved. Also since posts of DHJS are also promotional posts for the lower judiciary, these can not remain beyond the purview of reservation  in both direct recruitment as well as promotional reservation envisaged by the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court ibid.


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