People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXV

No. 49

December 04, 2011

 

Visually Impaired Persons Decry Discrimination

 

ON November 29, a delegation of visually impaired persons met the prime minister, seeking his intervention in the matter of discrimination which the visually impaired people are facing in induction into the civil services. Smt Brinda Karat, former member of parliament, accompanied the delegation that handed a memorandum over to the prime minister.

 

Earlier, on December 11, 2010, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) had written to the prime minister on the issue of discrimination which two visually impaired persons, Ajit Kumar and Ashish Singh Thakur, had faced. Though the two had cleared the civil service examinations in 2008, they were not inducted into the IAS. Their non-induction was not only a discrimination based on disability but also militated against the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, section 33 of which provides for three per cent reservation, of which one per cent is for people with visual disabilities.

 

After seven visually impaired civil service aspirants approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the latter directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on October 8, 2010 to induct Ajit Kumar and Ashish Singh Thakur into the IAS within eight weeks and gave six months time for the induction of the others into IAS or allied services in accordance with their ranks.

 

Sadly, despite several representations and pursuit of the matter at various levels including the minister of state for personnel & training, the UPSC chairman etc, this directive of the CAT has not been complied with.

 

Even after the UPSC sought an extension for implementing the CAT orders and the tribunal gave it time till September 2011, the order remains unimplemented.

 

The memorandum given to the prime minister also pointed out that this was not the first time that the UPSC had sought to discriminate against the visually impaired candidates. In another instance, Ravi Prakash Gupta had to approach the Delhi High Court and got an order in his favour in February 2009. Non-compliance of this order compelled him to approach the Supreme Court which upheld the High Court directive. It is only after this directive that he was finally inducted into the IAS.

 

In the case of Purnima Jain, Shravan Kumar and Subodh Kumar, the UPSC has recommended their induction in September 2011, but the orders are still awaited. In the case Pankaj Srivastava, Shivam Kumar and Rahul Mittal, the UPSC has taken the plea that they have obtained low marks. This ruse is exposed by the fact that one candidate was recommended despite his having scored only 969 marks, while all the others mentioned above have secured more marks than him. And this is despite the fact that the visually impaired are entitled to one per cent reservation in IAS and allied services.

 

In another case of Pawan Kumar -- the CAT directive to allot a service based on the rank secured by him also remains unimplemented.

 

One may note that during the period 1996 to 2010 --- after the PwD Act was enacted in 1995 --- a total 8812 vacancies were filled in the civil services. Of these, one per cent or at least 88 seats must have been reserved for the visually impaired candidates. But, in reply to an RTI query, the UPSC said that of the total 8812 vacancies it had recommended only 29 visually impaired candidates for induction. These figures too are disputed. But even if one goes by this figure, a backlog of 59 nine vacancies still remains.

 

The delegation pointed out to the prime minister that this was a clear case not only of discrimination against the visually impaired but also a violation of the provisions of the PwD Act. It is compounded by the fact that the concerned departments are refusing to heed even the directives of the courts.

 

The prime minister said that it was for the first time that the issue had been brought to his notice. While admitting that injustice had been done, he assured the delegation that he would do everything to see that justice is rendered.