Two High Courts - Delhi and Bombay decided against UPSC and DOPT and in favour of Persons with Visual Impairments in two matters filed before these courts challenging the constitutional validity of UPSC's Notification Civil Services Examination 2014 as it was against the rights of persons with visual impairments granted by the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995.
The Bombay High Court delivered final judgement ensuring in brief the following:
- Reservation of 39 for 1291 vacancies not 26 as in the impugned advertisement
- 13 for Visually Impaired and not 2 as in the impugned advertisement
- 20 mins time per hour not 10 min. as given in the impugned advertisement
- Talking calculators for visually impaired candidates wherever general candidates are allowed calculators.
- Large fonts to be provided on request from the next exam. Not applicable for the Prelims on 24th August 2014.
The Delhi High Court passed an interim order ensuring the following:
- No stay on the exam as DOPT indicated that they had given 6 vacancies to persons with disabilities, 2 each to the three disabilities act per the Act of 1995 in the IAS. However, DoPT explained it was not the cadre controlling authority on remaining 19 services.
- 20 Minutes time per hour as against the 10 minutes given in the impugned notification.
- Court also passed some positive remarks on the powers of Chief Commissioner Disabilities and differentiated the Guideline on scribe have statutory force which could not be overridden by the executive order of the CSE 2014 notification.
- Asked the UPSC not to disqualify candidates with visual impairments on the grounds of no vacancies.
- Since no information was available about reservation status in 19 cadres other than IAS, the court also directed UPSC to ensure proper assessment of number of vacancies reserved for visually impaired candidates in conformity with Section 33 of the Disabilities Act and notify the same before the schedule for Mains examination is fixed.
On Powers of CCPD
Stressing on the powers of the CCPD, the Delhi High Court held that the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) is an authority appointed under Section 57(1) of the Disabilities Act, 1995 for the purposes of the said Act. Section 58 of the Disabilities Act, 1995 provided for the functions of the CCPD which included taking steps to safeguard the rights and facilities made available to persons with disabilities.That being so, the guidelines dated 26.02.2013 issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the recommendation of CCPD apparently for the purpose of safeguarding the rights and facilities made available to persons with disabilities, cannot be treated as mere executive instructions as sought to be contended by the respondents. Please refer to my earlier blog entry dated 25 Sep 2012 on making these guidelines.
The court clarified that the guidelines dated 26.02.2013 on Scribe issue which are issued for effective implementation of the provisions of the Disabilities Act, 1995, have statutory force and are bound to be implemented by all the departments and authorities.
The court further held that it is no doubt true that UPSC is a Constitutional and independent body, however, the Civil Services Examination Rules - 2014 issued by the Department of Personnel & Training vide notification dated 31.05.2014 which are only in the nature of executive instructions, cannot override the statutory guidelines dated 26.02.2013 issued in terms of the provisions of the Disabilities Act, 1995 to ensure that a uniform and comprehensive procedure is prescribed for conducting examination for persons with disabilities.
To access the interim order of Delhi High Court click below :
WP (C) 3919 of 2014 titled Sambhavna Versus Union of India and Ors. (Order in PDF Image 11 pages - may not be accessible for screen readers).
Accessible copy of the above Order dated 19 August 2014 is now available. Please click here: Order dated 19 Aug 2014 in WP(C) 3919 of 2014
To access the Judgement of Bombay High Court click below:
WP (C) 5953 of 2014 titled Sujit Shinde and Anr Versus UPSC and Anr. (Order in accessible PDF and runs in 19 pages)
Media coverage in Indian Express on the issue:
No stay on Prelims, but HC takes up issue of seats for visually impaired
Express News Service | New Delhi | August 20, 2014 3:21 am
Granting relief to Civil Services aspirants, the Delhi High Court has refused to issue a stay on the preliminary exam for Civil Services 2014, but has directed UPSC to look into the issue of reservation of seats for visually challenged persons as per the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995.
The court has also directed that visually challenged candidates will get 20 extra minutes per hour for every hour of the examination in both the Preliminary and Main exams as per the 2013 guidelines given by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
NGO Sambhavana had sought a stay on the UPSC preliminary examination, alleging that the allocation of seats violated the provisions of the Persons With Disabilities Act 1995, which clearly reserved 1% seats for visually challenged people, out of a total of 3% reservation for disabled candidates.
The NGO in its plea had also stated that executive rules issued in May 2014 by the Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances had reduced the time granted to visually challenged candidates to only 20 minutes extra time in the preliminary exam, which also violated the rules made under the Disabilities Act.
The May 21 notification of the UPSC had advertised for 1,291 vacancies, but had specified 26 seats for disabled candidates, with only two seats reserved for visually challenged persons.
The court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw in its order on Tuesday declined to stay the preliminary exam, but directed that none of the visually impaired candidates should be disqualified in preliminary examination on grounds of no vacancies.
Noting that the data on exact number of vacancies had been received only for the IAS cadre and not for the other 19 services, the court has directed the UPSC to “ensure proper assessment of number of vacancies reserved for visually impaired candidates in conformity with 1% reservation provided under Section 33 of the Disabilities Act, 1995 and notify the same”, before the schedule for Main examination is fixed.
“Out of 180 vacancies sought to be filled up in IAS on the basis of Civil Services Examination-2014, six vacancies are reserved for candidates belonging to physically handicapped category, i.e., 2 each for visually impaired, hearing impaired and locomotor disability. Thus, for IAS itself two vacancies are reserved for visually impaired. What is the vacancy position in the other 19 services that are identified suitable for physically disabled category is not known. The counter-affidavit filed on behalf of UPSC is silent on this aspect and no particulars have been furnished about the number of vacancies furnished by the other Cadre Controlling Authorities,” noted the court.
Further, the High Court has pulled up the UPSC for failing to implement the rules made under the Disabilities Act regarding extra time for visually challenged candidates.