New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that the "reservation for persons with disabilities has nothing to do with the ceiling of 50 percent" and hence the ceiling imposed by the apex court by its earlier judgment was not applicable with respect to the disabled.
The court rapped the governments in the country for not ensuring that the disabled people get the benefits that the 1995 legislation extended to them in terms of equal opportunities and protection of rights.
It gave the ruling while disposing of a petition by the central government challenging the directions issued by the Delhi High Court in pursuance to 1995 act providing for three percent reservation for people with physical disabilities.
"Employment is a key factor in the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities," Supreme Court Chief Justice P.Sathasivam heading a bench observed, and directed that the three percent job reservation for the disabled given under the 1995 act be strictly adhered to.
The bench that also included Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi clarified that the "reservation for persons with disabilities has nothing to do with the ceiling of 50 percent" and hence the ceiling imposed by the apex court by its earlier judgment was not applicable with respect to the disabled.
"Even though the act (the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995) was enacted way back in 1995, the disabled people have failed to get required benefit until today," said the bench.
"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," Chief Justice Sathasivam said.
"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," said the court.
"After thoughtful consideration, we are of the view that the computation of reservation for persons with disabilities has to be computed in case of Group A, B, C and D posts in an identical manner viz., computing three percent reservation on total number of vacancies in the cadre strength which is the intention of the legislature."
Accordingly, the court said that certain clauses in the office memorandum dated Dec 29, 2005, contrary to the above reasoning are struck down and the appropriate government directed to issue a new memorandum(s) "consistent with the decision rendered by this court" within three months.
It further directed the "appropriate Government" to compute the number of vacancies available in all the "establishments" and further identify the posts for disabled people within a period of three months from Tuesday and implement the same without default.
It directed the central government to issue "instructions to all the departments/public sector undertakings/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".
Nodal officers responsible for the proper strict implementation of reservation for the disabled should face departmental proceedings in case of default.
The court said the governments are under the obligation of the Constitution and various international treaties to protect the rights of disabled people in the matter of their employment.
"The Union of India, the state governments as well as the union territories have a categorical obligation under the Constitution of India and under various international treaties relating to human rights in general and treaties for disabled persons in particular, to protect the rights of the disabled," said the bench.