New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre and state governments to provide three percent job reservation to disabled persons in their departments, companies and PSUs, observing that it is an "alarming reality" that they are unemployed due to social and practical barriers.
The court warned that not observing reservation scheme for disabled persons would be considered as an act of "non-obedience" and it would lead to initiation of departmental proceeding against the nodal officer concerned.
It also directed the Centre and the state governments to compute the number of vacancies available in all the "establishments" and identify the posts for disabled persons within three months and implement it without default.
The three percent reservation will be to the extent of one percent each for the blind, hearing and speech impaired and persons suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy, the court said while clarifying that the principle of not exceeding more than 50 percent reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for disabled persons.
"Employment is a key factor in the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities. It is an alarming reality that the disabled people are out of job not because their disability comes in the way of their functioning rather it is social and practical barriers that prevent them from joining the workforce.”
"As a result, many disabled people live in poverty and in deplorable conditions. They are denied the right to make a useful contribution to their own lives and to the lives of their families and community," a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi said.
While directing to identify the posts for disabled persons, the bench said:
"The Centre herein shall issue instructions to all the departments/PSUs/government companies declaring that the non-observance of the scheme of reservation for persons with disabilities should be considered as an act of non-obedience and nodal officer in department/PSUs/ government companies, responsible for proper strict implementation of reservation for person with disabilities, be departmentally proceeded against for the default."
NGO National Federation of the Blind had sought implementation of Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 alleging that the Centre and states have failed to provide reservation to the blind and low vision persons and they are virtually excluded from the process of recruitment to government posts as stipulated under the Act.
The Centre had come to the apex court against the Delhi High Court decision which had entertained the plea of the NGO and had issued various directions to it.
The bench said computation of reservation for disabled persons has to be done in case of posts falling under all the Groups from A,B,C and D in an identical manner viz "computing three per cent reservation on total number of vacancies in the cadre strength".
It struck down several clauses of the December 29, 2005 official memorandum (OM) of Department of Personnel and Training, which were contrary to the apex court`s reasoning and directed the governments to issue new OM in consonant with its judgement.
"Accordingly, certain clauses in the OM dated 29.12.2005, which are contrary to the above reasoning are struck down and we direct the appropriate Government to issue new Office Memorandum(s) in consistent with the decision rendered by this Court," the bench said.
It also clarified that the principle of not exceeding more than 50 percent reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for disabled persons.
"It is difficult to understand as to how the computation of reservation against total vacancies in the cadre strength in Group A and B will violate 50 percent ceiling when its computation on that basis in Group C and D will not violate the said ceiling.”
"There is no rationale of distinguishing between the manner of computation of reservation with regard to Group A and B posts on the one hand and manner of computation of reservation with regard to Group C and D posts on the other on this ground," it said.