The Supreme Court opined that people suffering from any kind of Disability are also socially backward and are thus should be entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes candidates.
The bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman had considered an appeal against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order, said that it is ’Following’ the principle laid down in the Delhi High Court‘s judgment in Anamol Bhandari (Minor) through his father/NaturalGuardian v. Delhi Technological University 2012 (131) DRJ 583.
In this case, the petitioner who was intellectually challenged to the extent of 50%, had applied for a diploma course in Fine Art for physically/mentally challenged students. Certain provisions of the prospectus issued by a College contending about a bifurcation of the total available seats between physically challenged students and mentally/intellectually challenged students were challenged in the Writ Petition. Prayer was made that an intellectually/mentally challenged disability student should be exempted from taking Aptitude Test. The writ petition was dismissed by the High Court.
In the bench, when the appeal came up for final hearing Justices Navin Sinhaand BR Gavai, noted that it had become infructuous as the seat that was reserved for the handicapped had already been given to another person hence:
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.
Observation in respect to the prospectus were made that as the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes candidates require 35 per cent to pass in the aptitude test in the future and same shall apply to the disability.
Noting were mentioned that directions by the High Court to authorities to examine the feasibility of creating a course catering the specific needs persons with disability and with a view to accommodate such students in a way to increase the number of seats in the discipline of Painting and Applied Art have been stated.
Delhi HC’s Judgement, Anamol Bhandari
The challenge in Anamol Bhandari (Supra), 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 Disability. The bench 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.
The Court while referring to various reports and Supreme Court judgments observed that reservation for disability is called horizontal reservation which cuts across all vertical categories such as SC, ST, and OBC& General and quoted:
“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 disability 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 disability 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.”
Thus the Court held that the provision of 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 to the SC/ST candidates.
Case name: ARYAN RAJ vs. CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2718 OF 2020
Coram: Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai
Counsel: Sr. Adv Colin Gonsalves, AdvSudhirWalia