Have courses for students with intellectual disabilities, SC tells college
The Supreme Court has in a recent case directed a college to consider creating courses which cater to the specific needs of students with intellectual disabilities, or to earmark seats for them in existing courses.
Whither higher education for persons with intellectual disabilities?
As a doorway to employment and the socio-economic mainstream, many persons with intellectual disabilities and their families look forward to the reservation in higher education provided for in the 2016 Disabilities Act. However, several difficulties stand in the way of implementation. This article, one in a series, discusses specific court cases and the provisions in the Act which are intended to counter these.
(Delhi High Court order and judgment dated 10.09.2008 in Writ Petition No. 3944 of 2007)
It is well known that written material can be read by blind persons if it is available in Braille. The issue raised in this case was that it was not fair and equitable that the Government of Delhi was printing school text books for Class 1 to 12 for sighted students but making no efforts to print these text books in Braille for blind and visually impaired students. The Petitioner, All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB) filed this petition through the Disability Law Initiative bringing to the notice of the Court the unavailability of school text books in Braille for the visually impaired students studying in Classes I to XII in the schools of Delhi. DLI argued that reading the text material in Braille was critical for the development and education of blind and visually impaired children, without which their reading ability was being impaired and they were at a big disadvantage compared to sighted students in the current competitive education environment. The Government of Delhi in their reply argued that audio books would be a more effective solution. However, the Petitioner vociferously opposed this suggestion, contending that development of reading ability was critical for blind children, which audio books could not offer. The Court saw merits in the contention of the Petitioner and ordered the Government of Delhi to print the school text books in Braille for the ensuing academic year of 2008. Now, in Delhi, school text books in all the subjects from Class 1 to 12 are available in Braille.
(Delhi High Court order and judgment dated 6.7.2010 in Writ Petition 1352/2008.)
It has been held by the Supreme Court of India in the celebrated 1993 case, Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India, that persons with disabilities fall in the category of socially and economically backward persons for whom positive measures must be taken to bring them to the level of the fortunate advantaged. In this case, Mohammad Shah Afzal, an orthopaedically disabled person who aspired to a MBBS degree in medical education, was represented by DLI in a petition filed in the Delhi High Court. DLI submitted that whereas the Medical Council of India (MCI) had relaxed the entrance qualifying marks for admission to the MBBS medical education program for the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes categories of persons, the MCI had not done so for persons with disabilities. On behalf of Mr. Afzal, DLI argued that relaxation in qualifying marks was a necessary positive measure for disabled students to enable them to avail of the 3% seats in medical colleges reserved for them. Without the relaxation, the majority of the 3% seats were remaining vacant. Therefore, the MCI must provide the same relaxation as provided to the SC/ST/OBC persons. While this case was being heard by the Court, the MCI agreed to provide a 5% relaxation in qualifying marks for persons with disabilities. The Delhi High Court disposed of the matter in terms of the MCI proposal, thus ensuring for the first time that disabled persons could avail of relaxation in qualifications in seeking admission to the MBBS courses.
(Supreme Court final order and judgment dated 7/3/2013 in Writ Petition No.184 / 2005)
DLI argued this case before the Supreme Court and said that despite the legal requirement for 3% reservation in post graduate medical colleges, and despite instructions to this effect from the Medical Council of India and the Government of India, the colleges were not implementing the same. No sooner had this case been filed, than post graduate medical institutions all over India began complying with the reservation requirement under the watchful eye of the Court, and the Government of India provided the Court a status report on compliance levels. The Government of India also put in place a reservation roster system for persons with disabilities to ensure proper implementation of the 3% reservation in the All India Quota for admission to medical colleges. The Supreme Court has directed the Chief Commissioner for Person with Disabilities to monitor the implementation of the reservation and if any medical college is found to be failing the requirement, to pass appropriate remedial orders that would be binding on the colleges.