While asking the Centre to decide within four weeks whether acid attack victims would be eligible to be considered for appointment against the post of Nursing Officers at AIIMS, the Delhi High Court has directed the institute to examine on merits the case of a woman, who braved acid attack 14 years ago, and appoint her as nursing officer even if it requires creating a supernumerary post.
“Respondent No. 1 is directed to take a final decision on whether acid attack victims would, or would not, be eligible to be considered for appointment against the post of Nursing Officers, in the context of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, within a period of four weeks and issue an appropriate notification, in that regard, on or before 31st October, 2018,” directed Justice C Hari Shankar.
The court passed the direction on a petition moved by Yasmeen Manusree, a victim of acid attack, who had sought reservation for victims of acid attack in the posts of nursing officers at AIIMS in consonance with the benchmark disabilities covered in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act, 2016.
Justice Shankar directed that if the Centre, after reconsideration, finds acid attack to be a category of disability to be considered for appointment to the post of nursing officer, Yasmeen’s case be considered for the same and if she is found suitable for being appointed to the post on merit, she be appointed as Nursing Officer in the AIIMS, if necessary by creating a supernumerary post for the said purpose.
A native of Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, Yasmeen and her family was attacked with acid 14 years ago by some miscreants after she objected to their misbehaviour. Yasmeen suffered 57 per cent disability. Despite the trauma, she completed Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery from Jamia Hamdard University in 2014 and has been working as nurse at various Delhi government hospitals since diploma completion.
She moved the high court challenging an advertisement issued on June 13, 2018, issued by AIIMS calling for online applications for filling up various Group-D posts in its establishment. The posts included that of nursing officer, to which Yasmeen wished to apply but could not as the only category of disability, for which the post of Nursing Officer was identified suitable, in the advertisement, was OL- One Leg Only.
Yasmeen’s counsel Govind Jee had argued that the advertisement infracts Section 34 of the RPD Act which covers disability due to acid attack.
In its counter-affidavit, AIIMS relied on July 29, 2013 notification issued by the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under Section 32 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, (the predecessor statute to the RPD, 2016 Act).
AIIMS said, as per this notification, an expert committee had been constituted on 30th December, 2010, under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which met on 14th February, 2012, and set up separate sub-committees to examine the three categories of disabilities which alone, at that time stood included in the Persons With Disabilities Act—i.e., locomotor impairment, hearing impairment and visual impairment.
It further said consequent to the studies carried out by the said committee, the notification identifies the categories of disability, persons possessing which could be treated as suitable for manning various posts and against the posts of Assistant Nursing Superintendent, Nursing Superintendent, Senior Nursing Brother, Senior Nursing Sister, Senior Nursing Superintendent, and Nursing Officer, the notification identifies only persons suffering from “one leg” disability, i.e. “OL” disability, as eligible for being appointed.
AIIMS said in absence of any further notification has been issued under Section 33 of the RPD Act which is parallel to Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities Act and therefore, it cannot include any more category of disabilities in its advertisement.
While agreeing with the stand taken by AIIMS that it cannot widen the scope of the advertisement, Justice Shankar said, “…it cannot be forgotten that the inclusion, of additional categories of disabilities, in the RPD Act, over and above those categories which figured in the PWD Act, was intended to extend the penumbra of reservation persons suffering from other disabilities, which was fundamentally a measure aimed at social justice. The said measure, has, naturally, to be given its full sweep and significance. Any attempt to adopt a blinkered view, while interpreting or applying the provision of the RPD Act, would do complete violence to the ethos of that statute.”
He then went on to note that, “Inasmuch as the post involved is one of Nursing Officer, which would involve interaction with patients and is ex facie, sensitive in nature, it is not possible for this Court to issue a mandamus, at this stage, to appoint the petitioner as Nursing Officer, when acid attack victims have, as yet, not been included in the categories of disabilities which would enable consideration and appointment to the said post.”
The court then directed the Centre to take a final decision on whether acid attack victims would, or would not, be eligible to be considered for appointment against the post of Nursing Officer.
“In case acid attack is found to be a category of disability which enables victims thereof to be considered and appointed as Nursing Officers, the case of the petitioner would be examined in the light of the said decision.
“In that event, if the petitioner is found otherwise suitable for being appointed to the post on merit, she would be appointed as Nursing Officer in the AIIMS, if necessary by creating a supernumerary post for the said purpose,” ordered Justice Shankar.