Railways has always been very reluctant to hire persons with disabilities citing safety and security reasons though not even a single incident of safety has been attributed to disability till date. Its actually a mindset of the Human Resource officials, inherent prejudices who attach incapacity to the disabled.
In the instant case, nearly 10,000 visually challenged candidates had reportedly appeared in the examination in November-December 2013 after the railways advertised for 7,386 vacancies. All of them were, however, issued rejection letters by the Indian Railways before the results were announced for being “100 per cent visually challenged”.
In protest, the applicants moved a petition in Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), arguing that they are eligible and entitled to be considered for the posts, both on merit as well as under reservation for visually challenged persons.
The CAT in its order yesterday directed Northern Railways to publish a revised merit list and appoint the candidates, who qualified on merit as well as under the disability quota.
Arguing for the applicants, lawyer S K Rungta – himself visually challenged – said the Northern Railways’ recruitment cell must file complete results, including the results of 100 per cent visually challenged candidates, so that their merit position could be ascertained.
Rungta and lawyer Pankaj Sinha urged the court to direct the Railway Board to consider appointing the petitioners and other visually challenged candidates.
The railways responded by saying that the vacancies were for people with “low vision” and that 100 per cent visually challenged persons cannot be hired for the posts despite the fact that the posts in question are identified as suitable for completely blind by the Government of India.
The tribunal, however, directed Northern Railways and the Railway Board to publish the complete results within two months and appoint the qualified candidates.
Northern Railways spokesperson Neeraj Sharma refused to comment. “The matter is sub-judice, so we cannot comment. But the railways will take appropriate action after consulting its legal department,” he said.
Despite catena of judgments by High Courts and Supreme Court, the Railways continues to play hide and seek when it comes to the equal employment rights of the persons with disabilities. In this matter, despite CAT's direction, I am sure, given the past experience, Railways will delay the matter by knocking the doors of Delhi High Court against the CAT Order. However, the writing is clear on the wall. The Railway officials in the Human Resource division needs serious sensitization on disability issues and also need to put their house in order. The reporting mechanism, appraisal, posting/transfers, disability reservation & promotion processes & equalizing facilities, reasonable accommodation for the employees with disabilities is something that they desperately need to work on on an urgent basis. Hope the message goes to right people.
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