24 Nov 2023 10:17 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court has upheld the decision of Kerala Public Service Commission (KPSC) declining a PwD candidate's request to bring his own scribe to examination.Stating that the decision was meant to rule out any possible misuse of the scribe during exam, the Court clarified that the Commission may itself allot a scribe to the candidate from the panel prepared by it.Analyzing the objectives...
The Kerala High Court has upheld the decision of Kerala Public Service Commission (KPSC) declining a PwD candidate's request to bring his own scribe to examination.
Stating that the decision was meant to rule out any possible misuse of the scribe during exam, the Court clarified that the Commission may itself allot a scribe to the candidate from the panel prepared by it.
Analyzing the objectives of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act (RPwD) and the circulars issued by the KPSC, the Division bench comprising Justice Anu Sivaraman and Justice C.Pratheep Kumar observed thus:
“The circular issued by KPSC contains provision for providing the service of a suitable scribe from a panel prepared by them to PwD candidates on request. Since the scribes are provided from the panel prepared by KPSC, it is also capable of ensuring the purity of competitive examinations and to rule out any manipulations. Therefore, it is to be held that the above circular issued by KPSC is capable of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and to rule out the possibility of misuse of own scribe. In the above circumstance, the conduct of the fifth respondent in declining the prayer of the appellant to chose his own scribe and providing a scribe from the panel prepared by them cannot be said to be arbitrary or unreasonable.”
The appellant, a visually challenged person having 100% disability has preferred a writ appeal before the Kerala High Court seeking a direction that persons with disabilities can bring their own scribe for competitive examinations as per the RPwD Act and circulars issued by the Government of India. The appellant alleged that he faced some difficulties while writing the Kerala Administration Examination (KAS) with the scribe provided to him and was not satisfied with the assistance provided by the scribe.
The appeal was preferred against the decision of the Single judge which stated that scribes can be allotted to PwD candidates from the panel prepared by the KPSC. The single judge also observed that the PwD candidates above 40% disability can be given an opportunity to interact with the scribe allotted by KPSC atleast two days before the exam. The single judge further observed that if candidate finds the scribe unsuitable, the KPSC can provide candidates with another scribe from the panel.
The Court noted that the RPwD Act has been enacted to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for empowering persons with disabilities. On analysing the provisions of the RPwD Act, it observed thus:
“…it can be seen that the main objective behind the RPwD Act is to treat persons with disabilities in equal footing in all respects along with other persons and also to ensure that such persons are not discriminated for the reason that they are suffering from any such disabilities. It is the duty of everyone to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity and respect for his or her integrity equally with others.”
The Counsel for the appellant Advocate Bonny Benny submitted that a scribe provided by KPSC would be unable to communicate with the candidate freely. On the other hand, Counsel for the respondents, Government Pleader B.Unnikrishna Kaimal and Standing Counsel P.C.Sasidharan argued that if candidates brought scribe of their own choice, then it might lead to malpractice.
The Court noted that Union and State PCSs have the duty to conduct examinations for appointing persons to the services of the Union and States. It noted that as per KPSC Rules of Procedure, KPSC has the duty to make arrangements for conducting competitive examinations.
Relying upon Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission & Ors. (2021), the Court stated that the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India issued guidelines for conducting written examinations for persons with disabilities where PwD candidates were allowed to bring their own scribe. It noted that PwD candidates were allowed to bring their own scribe because the agency conducting those examinations did not have the facility to provide a scribe. The Court further noted that as per the circular issued by KPSC, they had formulated a specific scheme for the allocation of scribes to PwD candidates by preparing a panel.
“ As contended by the fifth respondent in the counter affidavit filed by them, if the candidates are given full freedom to bring their own scribe, the same may lead to manipulations. At the same time, in order to protect the legitimate rights of persons with disabilities, they are to be provided a suitable scribe for writing competitive examinations conducted by the KPSC. Therefore, a procedure capable of protecting the legitimate rights and interests of PwD candidates and at the same time, ruling out the possibility of malpractice will be an ideal one. The circular issued by KPSC is to be evaluated in the above background.”
The court further noted that scribes were provided to PwD candidates to assist them in understanding the questions and to mark their answers in competitive exams. It noted that as per the KPSC circular, scribes could be allotted to PwD candidates on their request from the panel prepared by the KPSC. It noted that this procedure will enable KPSC to ensure the purity of competitive examinations and to prevent any sort of malpractice.
“In the above circumstances, we are of the considered view that the scribe provided to the candidates belonging to PwD candidates from a panel prepared by the KPSC will serve the requirements of RPwD Act. We do not find any illegality or irregularity in the impugned judgment of the learned Single Judge so as to call for any interference.”
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the writ appeal.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 682
Case title: Shibli K v Union of India
Case number: WA NO. 1435 OF 2023
Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment