In two cases recently argued by the Disability Law Initiative, the Courts of the Disability Commissioners have found that the Government illegally left out persons with intellectual disabilities from reservation in public sector jobs. The Commissioners said that the job of Special Educator in primary schools of Delhi and the job of Postman in the Department of Posts, respectively, were suitable for persons with intellectual disabilities and directed that reservation in these jobs be provided for them. About 20 vacancies in these posts will now be filled by persons with autism and developmental and learning disabilities in Delhi.
It is well recognized that social inclusion is key to the health and well-being of persons with intellectual disabilities. The reservation in public sector employment, provided in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, is an important enabler for this. In January 2021, an expert committee constituted by the Central Government identified a large number of public sector jobs as suitable for persons with autism, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities (See related e-bulletin). However, when most Government departments, public sector units and other Government-aided establishments such as schools and colleges announce reservation for persons with disabilities, they consciously leave out persons with intellectual disabilities. The present cases are a clear message from the Disability Commissioners that this is illegal and against the letter and spirit of the disability law in India.
In the first case, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi put out an advertisement for as many as 1126 vacancies in the post of Special Educator (Primary Schools) in March of 2021. 40 vacancies were reserved, but only for persons with physical disabilities. Representing a person with developmental disability, DLI argued that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, provided for job reservation for persons with intellectual disabilities as well. Furthermore, the Central Government had in January 2021 issued a circular identifying a large number of public sector jobs, including that of Special Educator in primary schools, as suitable for this category of persons. Finding merit in these submissions, the Court of the Disability Commissioner, Delhi directed MCD to issue a corrigendum to their advertisement accordingly.
In the second case, the Department of Posts, Delhi Circle, adopted a “pick and choose” approach in making reservations for persons with intellectual disabilities in the post of Grameen Dak Sevak, a job with functions of postman and multi-tasking assistant in the postal branch. They provided reservation for persons with learning disability only, but not for persons with autism and developmental disability. DLI argued before the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities that the post in question had been identified as suitable for the latter as well, by no less than an expert committee of the Central Government. When queried, the Postal Department referred to the “policy” from their Headquarters. Not accepting this, the Chief Commissioner directed them to correct their advertisement of 27th January 2021, so as to include persons with autism and developmental disability in the reservation scheme.
A copy of the order of the Chief Commissioner is awaited.