SC dismissed Centre’s appeal against Differently-abled Reservation

More than a year after it asked the Centre to “show a big heart”, the Supreme Court has shot down yet another attempt by the Centre to deny the differently-abled three per cent reservation in promotional posts.

On Tuesday, a bench led by Chief Justice T S Thakur dismissed an appeal filed by the government against a 2012 judgment by Punjab and Haryana High Court and questioned the rationale behind challenging a order belatedly.

In August 2012, the high court had directed the Centre to provide three per cent reservation to physically challenged people in appointment to public posts by way of direct recruitment as also in promotional posts under the provisions of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act. But the special leave petition in the apex court was moved by the central government only towards the end of 2015.

The bench remained unconvinced by the government’s argument as to why the judgment required an interference.

Even as the government’s counsel tried to justify the delay in filing the appeal, the top court retorted that there seemed to be no good reason to sit over a judgment for more than three years. It declined to admit the appeal for hearing or going into the merits of the case and said in its order: “The special leave petition is dismissed on the ground of delay.”

The high court order was issued on a PIL filed by NGO Youth Welfare Association for Visually Handicapped & Disabled.

It was a fresh endeavour by the NDA government to revive the issue pertaining to reservation for the differently-abled in promotional posts. In September 2014, the SC had ruled in favour of the reservation in civil services, not only at the appointment stage but also for promotions.

Giving a level-playing field to more than four crore people with disabilities in India, the court had held that the Centre, states and Union Territories were obligated to implement the rules of reservation for this class.

While asking the Centre to “show a big heart and give the differently-abled people their due in all central and state government jobs”, the court had expressed its displeasure at the government seeking to adopt a hyper-technical approach that reservation could be given only at the stage of appointment but not for promotion.

“Once Parliament prescribes for reservation in appointments, it will cover direct recruitment, promotion and even deputation. Our experience tells us that it is one legislation that has never been effectively implemented… it is a beneficial legislation and you should interpret in a manner so that they get the benefits,” the court had then observed, as it dismissed the Centre’s appeal against a Bombay High Court ruling.

The court, however, had not recorded detailed reasons and the Centre appears now to keep coming back to court due to this shortcoming.