Disabled are entitled to the same benefits of SC/ST quota: Supreme Court
Polity & Governance
20th Jul, 2020
Recently, the Supreme Court, in a significant decision, confirmed that persons suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education.
- The decision came on a petition filed by Aryan Raj, a special needs against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order.
- Raj was denied relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course in the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh.
- The college insisted that disabled persons too, need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given relaxation to 35%.
Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court Judgment
- The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld a 2012 judgment of the Delhi High Court in Anamol Bhandari (minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University in a significant decision.
- The High Court 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 Caste/ Scheduled Tribe candidates.
- Setting aside the college decision, the Supreme Court noted that Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates require 35% to pass in the aptitude test, the same shall apply so far as the disabled are concerned in the future.
- The apex court allowed Mr. Raj to apply afresh for the current year.
- The Supreme Court also highlighted the Delhi High Court’s words in the Anmol Bhandari case that new academic courses should be crafted to specifically cater to the needs of intellectually disabled persons.
- The court observed that intellectually/mentally challenged persons have certain limitations, which are not there in physically challenged persons.
Some important Constitutional Provisions related to the SC/ST people
- Article 15 (4) empowers the State to make special provision for the advancement of the SCs and the STs.
- Article 15 (5) empowers the State to reserve seats for SCs and the STs in admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State.
- However, it excludes minority educational institutions referred to in Article 30 (1).
- Article 16 (4A) - Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favor of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
- Article 46 - The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
- Article 243D – This article assures the reservation of seats in Panchayats, both for men and women of Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and also assures the seats of chairpersons in the Panchayats, according to their population in the constituencies.
- The actual number of seats is to be provided by the state govt by law, but the percentage should approximate the population of these caste groups in the respective constituencies.
- Article 243T - This article makes the similar provision of seats for SC/ST men and women, in the Municipalities.
- Article 275 – A provision is made for providing grants-in-aid, out of Consolidated Fund of India, each year for promoting the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or raising the level of administration of the ScheduledAreas.
- Article 330 – It makes provision for Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the people.
- Article 332 – It makes similar provisions for SC and ST people, in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
- Article 338 – It makes provision for National Commission for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes.
- Article 339 - Control of the Union over the administration of Scheduled Areas and the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.