November 11, 2022.
The Central Government has issued new guidelines dated August 10, 2022, permitting scribes for persons with disabilities who do not meet the 40% threshold for issuance of a disability certificate, but nonetheless have impairment in writing for academic and professional examinations. This follows directions issued by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Vikash Kumar vs. Govt. of India, argued by the Disability Law Initiative. These guidelines have been finalized after getting feedback from the disability sector on the draft guidelines issued earlier on May 11, 2021.
In the case of Vikash Kumar vs. Govt. of India, the Disability Law Initiative had approached the Supreme Court on behalf of a person with writer’s cramp, who was denied the use of a scribe for the Civil Services Examination for the reason that he did not have a disability certificate showing 40% disability. In a landmark judgment on Feb 11, 2021 the Supreme Court had held that reasonable accommodation, as required under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, had to be tailored to the specific disabling condition. Reasonable accommodations had to be provided even if such conditions did not amount to 40% disability. The Court said the provision of a scribe (i.e., reader / writer) came within the scope of reasonable accommodation, and directed the Central Government to formulate guidelines for provision of scribes for persons whose disabilities, while not reaching the 40% threshold, yet resulted in impairment in writing for examinations.
Keeping in view the order of the Supreme Court, an Expert Committee was constituted by the Central Government to consider the issue and suggest guidelines accordingly. The Committee noted that there were various types of clinical problems that could affect writing capacity. After careful consideration of the matter, the Committee recommended that the sole criteria for grant of scribe and compensatory time should be based on assessment of the capability of a person to write, and issued guidelines accordingly.
The guidelines require that the affected persons apply to the Chief Medical Officer in their district of residence, who will constitute a medical board to evaluate and certify whether the applicant is entitled to a scribe for academic and professional examinations.
Click here for a copy of the Central Government guidelines dated 10th August, 2022.
These guidelines are also available at:
It is also pertinent to note that earlier draft guidelines issued by the Central Government in May 2021 enumerated the range of conditions causing difficulties in writing for which a scribe may be provided:
i. Congenital Anomaly
ii. Post traumatic deformity and amputations
iii. Hansens and other paralysis
iv. Arthritic Hand
vi. Persons with chronic neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis who have intermittent diplopia or who are not able to use hands due to burning sensation
vii. Persons with epilepsy as the drug taken by them can cause drowsiness affecting writing ability
viii. Sleep disorder
ix. Visual field affecting reading and writing ability.
x. Persons with specific learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities can face difficulty in comprehending and in coordinating which may affect their writing capability with required speed. Similar is the case for persons with autism spectrum disorder.