The Supreme Court has observed that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and are thus entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes candidates.
While considering an appeal against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order, the bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said that it is 'following' the principle laid down in the Delhi High Court's judgment in Anamol Bhandari (Minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University 2012 (131) DRJ 583.
The petitioner, who is intellectually challenged to the extent of 50%, had applied for a diploma course in Fine Art for physically/mentally challenged students. He filed a writ petition challenging certain provisions of the prospectus issued by a College contending that there must be a bifurcation of the total available seats between physically challenged students and mentally/intellectually challenged students. He also prayed that an intellectually/mentally challenged student should be exempted from taking Aptitude Test. The High Court dismissed the writ petition.
When the appeal came up for final hearing, the court was informed that it had become infructuous as the seat that was reserved for the handicapped had already been given to another person. The bench, also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and BR Gavai, observed thus:
We are of the view that the High Court is correct on the bifurcation aspect. Further, insofar as the aptitude test having to be passed is concerned, the High Court is correct in saying that no exemption ought to be granted, but we follow the principle laid down in the Delhi High Court's judgment in Anamol Bhandari (Minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University 2012 (131) DRJ 583 in which the High Court has correctly held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least, entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes candidates.
Referring to the prospectus, the Court observed that as the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes candidates require 35 per cent to pass in the aptitude test, the same shall apply so far as the disabled are concerned in future.
The bench also noted that the High Court has directed the authorities to examine the feasibility of creating a course which caters to the specific needs of disabled persons and also to increase the number of seats in the discipline of Painting and Applied Art with a view to accommodating such students.
Anamol Bhandari Judgment By Delhi HC
In Anamol Bhandari (Supra), the challenge was against the Delhi Technological University prospectus which provided 10% of concession of marks in the minimum eligibility requirements for candidates belonging to SC/ST, but relaxation of 5% only is permissible for People with Disabilities. The bench comprising of Justice AK Sikri (then Acting CJ) and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw considered the issue whether different treatment to the two categories is permissible under law or it amounts to hostile discrimination insofar as PWD category is concerned.
Referring to various reports and Supreme Court judgments, the Court observed that reservation for disabled is called horizontal reservation which cuts across all vertical categories such as SC, ST, OBC & General. It had observed thus:
"Therefore, what was recognized was that since PWDs belonging to SC/ST categories, i.e., vertical categories enjoyed the relaxation which is provided to SC/ST categories, there is no reason not to give the same benefit/concession to those disabled who are in General Category or Other Backward Class Category as that process only would bring parity among all persons‟ disparity irrespective of their vertical categories. This itself provides for justification to accord same concession, viz., 10% concession to PWDs as well, in all categories which is extended to those PWDs who fall in the category of SC/ST. All the aforesaid clinchingly demonstrates that the people suffering from disabilities are equally socially backward, if not more, as those belonging to SC/ST categories and therefore, as per the Constitutional mandates, they are entitled to at least the same benefit of relaxation as given to SC/ST candidates."
The Court thus held that the provision giving only 5% concession in marks to PWD candidates as opposed to 10% relaxation provided to SC/ST candidates is discriminatory and PWD candidates are also entitled to same treatment.
Case name: ARYAN RAJ vs. CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATIONCase no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2718 OF 2020Coram: Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR GavaiCounsel: Sr. Adv Colin Gonsalves, Adv Sudhir Walia