22 March 2022 4:04 AM GMT
The University Grants Commission has informed the Supreme Court that it has published draft guidelines to ensure access for persons with disabilities in higher educational institutions and has invited suggestions from stakeholders.On Monday (14th March), in a Miscellaneous Application in a Public Interest Litigation ("PIL") filed for the benefit of persons with disability as defined under...
The University Grants Commission has informed the Supreme Court that it has published draft guidelines to ensure access for persons with disabilities in higher educational institutions and has invited suggestions from stakeholders.
On Monday (14th March), in a Miscellaneous Application in a Public Interest Litigation ("PIL") filed for the benefit of persons with disability as defined under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act) 1995, replaced by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, Advocate, Mr. Manoj Ranjan Sinha appearing on behalf of the University Grants Commission ("UGC") apprised a Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant that the draft Comprehensive Accessibility Guidelines and Standards for Higher Educational Institutions and Universities has been notified on the website of UGC and suggestions are being invited from stakeholders. The last date of seeking feedback has been now extended to 25th March, 2022.
In the said PIL, by its judgment dated 15.12.2017, the Apex Court had directed that all institutions of higher education under the control of government or receiving aid from the government shall reserve at least 5% seats for persons with disabilities while making admission of students in educational courses each year or face consequential action. Therein, the Court had further directed -
"(ii) Insofar as suggestions given by the petitioner in the form of "Guidelines for Accessibility for Students with Disabilities in Universities/Colleges" are concerned, the UGC shall consider the feasibility thereof by constituting a Committee in this behalf. In this Committee, the UGC would be free to include persons from amongst Central Advisory Board, State Advisory Boards, Chief Commissioner of State Commissioners appointed under the Disabilities Act. This Committee shall undertake a detailed study for making provisions in respect of accessibility as well as pedagogy and would also suggest the modalities for implementing those suggestions, their funding and monitoring, etc. The Committee shall also lay down the time limits within which such suggestions could be implemented. The Expert Committee may also consider feasibility of constituting an in-house body in each educational institution (of teachers, staff, students and parents) for taking care of day to day needs of differently abled persons as well as for implementation of the Schemes that would be devised by the Expert Committee. This exercise shall be completed by June 30, 2018."
Subsequently, a Miscellaneous Application was filed to ensure that the Committee referred to in the judgment dated 15.12.2017 was indeed constituted and steps are taken by the said Committee to fulfill its mandate. On the first day when the application came up for hearing, i.e. on 25.10.2019, Mr. Sinha informed the Court that a Committee had been constituted in pursuance of the judgment. He sought time to place on record a report indicating the action already taken by UGC. On 08.10.2021, the Court was apprised that the report was ready. Thereafter, time was sought on a couple of occasions to file the updated status report pertaining to the Guidelines. On 10.01.2022, the Supreme Court requested UGC to be proactive and directed it to ensure that the guidelines be finalised before the next date of hearing. It had also directed -
"The report and guidelines shall be made available to all the concerned stakeholders and shall be uploaded on the website of the UGC."
Since, at present UGC is in the middle of finalising the Accessibility Guidelines, the Court decided to list the matter after three months so that it can be updated with a fresh status report.
Case Title: Disabled Rights Group v. Union of India
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw(SC) 50
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