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Supreme Court orders Indian government to stop dragging its heels regarding 2016 disability act

Supreme Court of India New Delhi
Photo: Dreamstime

The Union of India is ordered to issue instructions “at the earliest and not later than four months,” for giving reservation in promotions to persons with disabilities.

As reported by Live, the proviso to Section 34 of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, reads as “Provided that the reservation in promotion shall be in accordance with such instructions as are issued by the appropriate Government from time to time.”

The order was issued in a Miscellaneous Application filed by the Central Government seeking clarification with respect to its judgement in Siddaraju vs State of Karnataka which declared that persons with disabilities have right to reservation in promotions.

The Court said that there are no ambiguities in the judgment and directed the Centre to issue instructions in terms of proviso to Section 34 of the 2016 Act for implementing reservation in promotions for persons with disabilities.

On Tuesday, a bench comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao, B.R.Gavai and Sanjiv Khanna heard arguments from Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan for the Central Government and Advocate Rajan Mani appearing for some of the party respondents.

On the previous hearing date, the Court had heard the arguments of Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari who submitted that the Centre was seeking to undo the judgments under the pretence of seeking clarification.

Advocate Rajan Mani pointed out that no instructions have been issued since the development of the Act five years ago. He submitted that the implementation of reservation for PWDs are being delayed and that the current Miscellaneous Application seeking clarification was yet another attempt to diminish the judgement.

Taking into consideration Advocate Rajan Mani’s submission that 5 years have elapsed since the Act came into force and yet no instructions have been issued, Justice L.Nageswara Rao asked the ASG if the Centre has issued instructions for applying reservation in promotions in terms of proviso to Section 34 of the 2016 Act.

Responding to Justice Nageswara Rao’s question, ASG Madhavi Divan confirmed that no such instructions to provide reservation in promotion has been issued by the Centre. The ASG submitted that the instructions could not be issued because certain explanations were needed. She submitted that “the reason we are seeking clarification is so that our instructions do not become vulnerable.”

ASG further argued that principles of merit, efficiency and adequacy of representation must be considered before extending the benefit of reservation in promotion across the board. The ASG had previously argued that widespread application of reservation in promotion for persons with disabilities across board will lead to numerous complications.

After the hearing, the bench declared that it found no reasons to issue any clarifications as sought by the Union.

The Bench, disposing of the Miscellaneus Application, noted that the court saw no ambiguity in the judgements given in decisions such as Siddaraju, National Federation of the Blind vs. Sanjay Kothari, Secy. Deptt. of Personnel and Training, 2015 (9) Scale 611 and Rajeev Kumar Gupta & Others vs Union of India (2016) 6 SCALE 417.

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