3 May 2023 6:59 AM GMT
Considering a plea seeking the inclusion of disabled people to the IPS, DANIPS as well as IRPF, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to detail out the nature of particulars pertaining to entry-levels posts and the job profiles of persons who have been recruited into the Indian Police Service, Indian Railways Protection Force Service and Delhi, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar...
Considering a plea seeking the inclusion of disabled people to the IPS, DANIPS as well as IRPF, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to detail out the nature of particulars pertaining to entry-levels posts and the job profiles of persons who have been recruited into the Indian Police Service, Indian Railways Protection Force Service and Delhi, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Police Service.
A Bench of Justices Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta has asked the Centre to file an affidavit within four weeks on the following aspects:
The Centre had filed three affidavits in the matter and its stand was that rigorous training would be required for disabled persons to occupy posts in the IPS as well as DANIPS.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar for the petitioners contended that the Centre cannot take such a stand. “As per the definition of “reasonable accommodation” under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, you tailor the posts or the recruitment where certain persons can occupy certain posts. For example, if a person has a locomotive issue, then he can have a desk job…..You can’t simply say, I will not occupy”.
Datar also gave the example of Telangana where persons with disabilities were appointed as Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors. “But for IPS, they [Centre] say it's not possible”.
“Someone who acquires this condition as a result of an accident, reasonable accommodation is seen as an obligation, somehow you must do it. But somebody at the threshold, they [Centre] are not willing to give. That’s the approach”, the Bench observed.
The Bench then asked, “Under the IPS, is there is any data to show that they [persons with disabilities] were rejected at the threshold on some requirement?”. Datar said such data wasn’t available with him at the moment.
As the hearing progressed, Datar went through the definition of ‘establishment’ under the 2016 Act; the Bench pondered if IPS would come under its purview.
“Cadre may not come under the establishment. Your Lordships are right!”, Datar later agreed.
What are the statutory requirements for identification of these parameters? the Bench then asked.
None. There's an office memorandum, Datar replied.
“It’s a sensitive topic. Sometimes, it might create problems. Sometimes posting becomes problematic. Some category of persons will have to take the hard postings. Posts should not be made rigid. Reservation of an entire cadre is one thing from what we can understand’, the Bench then said.
Datar clarified that section 2 (y) which defines reasonable accommodation itself contemplates that it should not impose disproportionate or undue burden on others.
Giving an example of the position of head of the CBI which mandates field work, the Bench said that a person who has been in a different department, “who has never seen action”, cannot be made the head.
So, the Centre should point out what are the functional requirements for a post, Datar said.
“What are the functional requirements? For this function, which people can do it …..Unless you show that persons with disability can't reach the requirements. For e.g., I can't be in the army because I have to be at the borders”.
“So, it's based on suitability of the post, ability of person with disability, etc. Rules would have made it rigid. Now it's unchartered territory”, the Bench noted while highlighting that a cadre will have different kinds of posts - administrative wing, operational wing, cyber wing, etc.
“The Union is saying that there's rigorous training for IPS and people with disability won't be able to undertake”, Datar said.
Also, he pointed out that 650 posts within the police departments, where disabled persons can be appointed. The petitioners had identified some posts that persons with disabilities can occupy in the police force and was placed before the Bench in the form of a table. The Bench then wanted to know whether those posts were entry level posts or not.
“With entry level posts, we will have to see the degree of accommodation that is possible, the Bench noted. The Bench also expressed interest in knowing the promotion pathway for the officers.
“For instance, an able bodied person becomes disabled at the job and they get promoted later, the question is whether they will be accommodated or not, given that now they have become disabled, will be they given promotion or not?”
If there’s reservation for disabled persons, then that may block promotion for able bodied people, the Court pointed out.
“See. It doesn't mean that every desk job should go to persons with disability. Police department is not meant to work in a silo. Some of the positions are certainly a value addition for people”, the Bench added.
“To say that all my posts are combat based and I will not provide reasonable accommodation, is not fair”, Datar added.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati submitted that the none of the posts identified by the petitioners are entry-level posts. Quoting from the affidavits submitted, she said that there are no exclusive administrative posts in the IPS or DANIPS. Further, the posts require several kinds of physical training and endurance training. It demands rigorous training activities which people which disabilities cannot do.
“IPS and IRPFS are technical services and require proper vision. It requires that the fittest candidates be appointed to maintain law and order.”
The court asked,
“Do you have any rules that say what is the content of the training required?” With this, the Court queried regarding the annual intake of IPS officers
Annually, it's 150 – 200, the Court was told.
There are two kinds of disabilities which work as exceptions - acquired disability on the job and armed forces, the ASG continued.
The Bench stated that there are two streams with the state itself, one is the State police service and then, the subordinate police service. The difference is that the latter cannot get into IPS.
“We are aggrieved by their attitude saying all IPS posts are combat based. And to say that IRPF officers are combat based, I have friends who have retired from the IRPF, it’s not fully combat posts at all”, Datar added.
“At the most, we can say its [Centre’s stand] irrational”, the Court said.
“It's about what relief persons with disabilities can get”, Datar said, adding that the Parliament says to reasonably accommodate disabled persons. “Is it right on the government's part to say all posts are combat based? At least do a study to say that that these are posts IPS officers’ man”.
The Court reminded that at entry level, all officers will have to do all kinds of jobs.
“At entry level, everyone will have to do everything. That's how career develops. You need to have exposure in different positions. Among them, some of them are field posts”.
“We will come back to your Lordships on what can be done”, Datar assured.
The matter will be heard next after the Court’s summer break, in July.
In March 2022, the Supreme Court had passed an interim order allowing disabled persons to apply provisionally to IPS, IRPFS and DANIPS services. In a later hearing, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to deal with the issue with an element of sensitivity.
Case Title: National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled versus Union of India| WP(C) 1343/2021
Advocate on Record Rahul Bajaj also appeared alongside Datar.