SC slams Govt for apathy towards handicapped

The Supreme Court has castigated the government for its insensitivity towards physically challenged persons.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has castigated
the government for its insensitivity towards physically
challenged persons and expressed anguish at the way in which a
paralytic woman was denied employment in the Railways for 21
years even after she was selected.

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Ashok Kumar Ganguly,
while directing forthwith appointment of the candidate
Pritilata Nanda of Orissa, asked the Centre to pay Rs 3 lakh
as compensation to the woman.

"The respondent (candidate), who suffers from paralysis
of lower limbs, has become a victim of constitutionally flawed
approach adopted by the officers of South Eastern Railway and
has been deprived of her legitimate right to be appointed on a
Class III post," the apex court said.

The apex court passed the direction while dismissing the
Centre`s appeal challenging an Orissa High Court direction
which had on August 5, 2008, asked the Railways to appoint
Nanda to a Class III post with back wages.

The Bench noted that though over the decades several
legislations had been enacted by Parliament and state
legislatures for the welfare of physically challenged persons
in tune with constitutional provisions of Chapter IV, the same
has not been translated into actions.

"In the last about six decades, Parliament and state
legislatures have enacted several laws for giving effect to
the provisions contained in Part IV of the Constitution but
implementation of these legislations has been extremely tardy
and intended beneficiaries of such legislations have to
struggle hard and, at times, seek intervention of the court
for getting their dues," the bench said.

The apex court rejected the argument of the Centre that
even though Nanda had cleared the exams and viva voce she was
not entitled to appointment as she was not sponsored by any
employment exchange.

"The requirement of notifying the vacancies to the
employment exchange is embodied in the Employment Exchanges
(Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 (for short,
`the 1959 Act`) but there is nothing in the Act which
obligates the employer to appoint only those who are sponsored
by the employment exchange.

"We also agree with the High Court that once the
candidature of the respondent was accepted by the concerned
authorities and she was allowed to participate in the process
of selection i.e., written test and viva voce, it was not open
to them to turn around and question her entitlement to be
considered for appointment as per her placement in the merit
list on the specious ground that her name had not been
sponsored by the employment exchange," the Bench said.


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