New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the government to give three percent reservation to persons with disability (PWD) in all services, irrespective of the mode of filling such posts.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre observed that it was "disheartening" to note that low numbers of PWD, which was much below three per cent, were in government jobs, years after Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, came into force.
"We further direct the Government to extend three percent reservation to PWD in all identified posts in Group A and Group B irrespective of the mode of filling up of such posts," the bench said, while holding as "illegal" the two memoranda issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
These memoranda, issued in February 1997 and December 2005, had denied the statutory benefit of three per cent quota in identified posts which could be reserved for PWD, falling under groups A and B.
The court's order came on a petition filed by some PWD employees of Prasar Bharati against these memoranda, saying it deprived them of the statutory benefit of reservation under the 1995 Act regarding Group A and Group B posts.
The 2005 memorandum provided for reservation in favour of PWD to the extent of three per cent in all identified posts in Prasar Bharati when these are filled up by direct recruitment.
However, it provided for three per cent reservation in the posts falling in groups C and D irrespective of the mode
of recruitment due to which the statutory benefit of reservation in favour of PWD was denied for groups A and B posts as these posts were to be filled up through direct recruitment only.
While holding these memoranda "inconsistent" to the 1995 Act, the bench noted in its verdict, "It is disheartening to note that (admittedly) low numbers of PWD (much below three percent) are in government employment long years after the 1995 Act. Barriers to their entry must, therefore, be scrutinised by rigorous standards within the legal framework of the 1995 Act."
"Once a post is identified, it means that a PWD is fully capable of discharging the functions associated with the identified post. Once found to be so capable, reservation under Section 33 (of the Act) to an extent of not less than three per cent must follow," the bench said.
"Once the post is identified, it must be reserved for PWD irrespective of the mode of recruitment adopted by the state for filling up of the said post," it said.