The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its “anguish” over what it called attempts by “all governments and institutions” to deprive people with disabilities of their rights under the disability law.
“This has been our experience for decades as judges. Irrespective of dispensation, all governments, and all authorities have always tried their best to defeat the objective of the disability law. Nobody wants to make ways for the disabled,” regretted the bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta.
The bench was hearing an appeal by a consortium of Catholic school management and Catholic institutions of higher education in Kerala against the high court decision to appoint disabled candidates as teachers in their schools under the disability law.
In February this year, the high court told the management to calculate posts for the disabled candidates since 1996 and earmark four posts for each year.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 provides that all government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the government shall reserve at least 3% seats for persons with disabilities.
Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for a group of Catholic educational institutions, expressed “practical” difficulties in complying with the judgment of the high court and said that apart from the fiscal liability, the creation of these many posts was also not possible.
But the bench was unmoved by these submissions. “We are anguished by your submissions. You are an educational institution and you are still doing this. Don’t you receive funds from the government? The government must stop giving you money if you cannot comply with the law,” it retorted.
The court added: “First, the Centre and states tried to defeat the law by saying there are no promotional posts. Then they create some posts in grade 3 and grade 4 and argue there are no posts in the upper grades. Now, even in teaching jobs, you don’t want to accommodate them. This is very unfair. Why it is so much difficult to accommodate people with disabilities?”
On his part, Giri reiterated that the high court’s direction was to fill up the vacancies since 1996. “We don’t have these many posts. There have to be four posts for each year as per the high court order. We have also moved our representation with the state government,” the senior counsel said.
The bench, however, told Giri that had the management been complying with the requirement of the disabilities law from the beginning, such a situation could have been averted. “This is all your mistake. You did not want to accommodate them. We are not going to interfere with the high court order. We are going to pass a detailed order rejecting your petition,” it said.
With the writing on the wall, Giri opted to withdraw the petition, saying the consortium would rather approach the state government.
At this, the bench recorded in its order that it was “disappointed and anguished” at the appeal filed by the petitioner, who has chosen to withdraw the appeal since the Supreme Court was not inclined to entertain the plea.