A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has reached the Kerala High Court seeking assistance for all differently-abled students in examinations, regardless of the percentage of their disability.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly recently issued notice to the Centre, State and the relevant State Education Separtments in the plea.
The PIL has also sought rules to be framed for students in need of special assistance in State schools for Classes 10, 11 and 12 during examinations without fixing any minimum percentage of disability for availing benefits s as provided under Sections 4(2) and 17(i) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
The PIL was moved by a differently-abled student who was not permitted to have a scribe while attempting the Class X State Board examination in 2020, citing that the disability should be 40% or above to avail the assistance of a scribe.
On this ground, his request for a scribe under the aforesaid Sections was turned down by the authorities.
Aggrieved by this, the petitioner had approached the High Court earlier challenging the rejection of his request.
The Court then asked the State to re-visit and issue fresh guidelines in line with the directions issued by the Apex Court in Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission & Ors and the ones issued by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The petitioner subsequently passed his Class X and XII examinations with the aid of a scribe.
However, the petitioner moved the Court again through Advocate Sheji P Abraham contending that the disability criterion was still 40% or above in State schools for SSLC and Higher Secondary Examinations.
He also argued that the State was yet to frame any rules for differently-abled students as directed by the Court.
In the PIL, the following reliefs have been sought for:
- To issue writ of mandamus directing the State government to frame rules for children in need of special assistance in the State schools for the SSLC, 1st and 2nd year Higher Secondary examinations, without fixing any percentage of minimum disability, for availing the benefits as provided under Section 4(2) and Sec. 17(i) of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016;
- To declare that the Court's previous judgment is applicable to all students in need of special assistance in State schools;
- To declare that disability of the students in need of support shall be assessed by the authority as defined under Section 2(s) of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act; and
- To declare that all differently abled students studying in the State schools coming under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act are entitled to assistance for examinations.
The matter will be taken up on August 23 for further consideration.
Case Title: Blessen Baby v. Union of India & Ors