GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court, in a judgment, has held that posts or jobs reserved for persons with disabilities (PwDs) cannot be sub-classified on the basis of other considerations such as caste, creed or religion.

A single-judge bench of Justice Suman Shyam observed that as PwDs constitute a category in themselves, there cannot be any further classification amongst the members of that category.

The Court, therefore, granted relief to a writ petitioner who was excluded from the recruitment drive conducted by the Assam government because he was a general category candidate with a physical disability.

“This Court is of the unhesitant opinion that having reserved four vacancies to be filled up by PWD candidates and having permitted the General Category candidates to participate in the recruitment process, there was no scope for the authorities to further reserve those four vacancies in PWD category to be filled up only by candidates belonging to OBC/MOBC or ST(H) category,” the bench observed.

Aggrieved by non-inclusion in the select list, the petitioner, who belongs to the general category but has hearing impairment to the extent of more than 60 percent, had filed a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to appoint him against the quota reserved for the Persons With Disabilities (PwD) category candidates.

The petitioner had submitted his candidature as a PwD candidate belonging to the general category for the veterinary department.

The advocate and counsel appearing for the Assam Public Service Commission, contended that in the advertisement notice itself the respondents have mentioned that out of the four vacancies reserved for PwD candidates, three of them were meant for OBC/ MOBC category and one post for ST(H) category.

Thus, it is evident from the advertisement notice itself that even amongst the PwD candidates, there was further classification of the reserve category posts by confining those four posts only for the benefit of OBC/ MOBC and ST (H) candidates.

The counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on the judgment of a Supreme Court case and contended that law was firmly settled that further reservation amongst the disabled on the basis of caste, creed or religion would be impermissible.

“There is no wrangle at the bar that as many as 4 (four) posts of Veterinary Officer/ Block Veterinary Officer were reserved for being filled up by candidates belonging to PwD category. However, as per the advertisement notice, these four posts were meant only for candidates with physical disability belonging to OBC/ MOBC and ST (H) category,” the Court observed.

“From the advertisement notice, it is clear that the recruitment process was not a special drive for intake of only reserved category candidates belonging to OBC/ MOBC/ ST(H) category but the same was meant for General Category candidates as well. As a matter of fact, out of the 113 posts as many as 16 posts were meant for the general category candidates,” it observed.

“There is also no dispute about the fact that the petitioner suffers from disability, being a person suffering from hearing handicap. As such, he would have been entitled to the benefit of reservation meant for the PwD hearing handicap category,” the Court held.

The Court also recorded that to fulfill India’s commitment as a signatory to the Beijing Proclamation, the Parliament had enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The Act makes it obligatory for the state and its instrumentalities to reserve posts for being filled up by persons with disabilities.

According to Section 32 of the Act, the appropriate government, which is the Assam government in this case, is required to identify posts in every establishment that can be reserved for persons with disability.

The Court therefore set aside the order issued by the secretary, APSC, dated November 30, 2018, and directed the state to consider the petitioner’s case within 60 days, for appointment in the post of veterinary officer/block veterinary officer against one of the three vacancies reserved for PwD category candidates.

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