Person with Disability entitled to same benefits as given to SC/ST candidates while seeking college admission
The Supreme Court, in a significant decision, confirmed that persons suffering from disabilities are entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education. The decision by the Justice Nariman Bench came on a petition filed, a special needs person represented by advocates, against the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh.
What do you mean by a ‘disability’?
A disability is defined as a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or group. It refers to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment mental illness, and various types of chronic diseases.
Are disabled entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe?
The Supreme court has thereby thrown light in the case of Aryan Raj where it was held that disabled entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe.
Facts of the Case:-
- The College’s method of selection of students was candidates obtaining 40% aggregate (in case of SC/ST 35%) marks in the aptitude test will qualify for admission to any of the courses offered.
- The college denied Mr. Raj relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course.
- The college insisted that disabled persons too need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation to 35%.
Reference to an Earlier Decision by Delhi High Court
- The Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman upheld a 2012 judgment of the Delhi High Court in Anamol Bhandari (minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University.
- In Anamol Bhandari, the High Court had correctly held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least should be entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe candidates.
Decision of the Supreme Court
- Setting aside the college decision, the Supreme Court held that Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates require 35% to pass in the aptitude test and the same shall apply where the disabled are concerned in the future.
- The apex court allowed Mr Raj to apply afresh for the current year and it was made clear that aptitude test pass mark as far as disabled are concerned was 35%.
New courses to be crafted to cater the needs of intellectually disabled persons
- Justice Nariman’s Bench also highlighted the Delhi High Court’s words in the Anmol Bhandari case that new academic courses should be crafted to specifically cater to the needs of intellectually disabled persons.
- “We cannot lose sight of the fact that intellectually/mentally challenged persons have certain limitations, which are not there in physically challenged persons. The subject experts would thus be well advised to examine the feasibility of creating a course which caters to the specific needs of such persons. They may also examine increasing the number of seats in the discipline of Painting and Applied Art with a view to accommodating such students,” the Supreme Court quoted from the High Court judgment.
Candidates with disabilities were often not able to get the benefit of reservation in education and employment because of not meeting the general standards. Now, public sector employers and colleges / universities will have to allow the same relaxations to them as to SC / ST candidates.