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PIL for 4% quota: SC seeks replies from Centre, states and others on reservation for disabled in district judiciary

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre, states, UTs and all high courts on a PIL seeking reliefs including four per cent reservation in judicial appointments in district judiciary for persons with disabilities (PwD), as mandated under a 2016 law.

The PIL also sought directions to the Centre and others to “set right” the existing judicial services rules for appointment of judicial officers as per the law pertaining to rights of persons with disabilities (PwD).

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the two PIL petitioners, that persons with disabilities are not getting their due in the appointment of judicial officers as mandated under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016.

The 2016 legislation is a special law that has been enacted to give effect to the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular the principles laid down there for their empowerment, besides various legal provisions to promote non-discrimination and equality.

The legislature thought it fit that the reservation for PwD shall not be less than four per cent under the statutory provision, the plea, filed through lawyer Shashank Singh, said.

The PIL has been filed by Renga Ramanujam and Summaiya Khan, residents of Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Bangalore, respectively.

“The Petitioners are constrained to file the present petition seeking directions from this Hon’ble Court to the Respondents to set right or streamline the existing judicial services rules of different states/ High Courts for appointment of judges to the District/Lower judiciary under PwD Quota as per the mandate of Section 34 read with 33 of the Rights of persons with disabilities Act 2016,” it said.

Section 34 of the Act mandates a reservation of not less than 4 per cent for “Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwD)” in government establishments, including the appointment of judges to the district/lower judiciary, the senior lawyer said.

The PIL referred to several alleged contraventions of the law in different states. It said the process excludes those with specified disabilities from appearing for examinations for appointment as judges, violating their fundamental rights.

“There is also a violation of the 4% reservation mandate for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities, as defined under Section 2(r) of the Act…The Chief Commissioner/State Commissioner has not been consulted for decisions about which disabilities are to be excluded, as required by Section 34 read with Section 33 of the Act,” the plea said.

It said there were “inconsistencies in the reservation percentages among different states”, with some states providing less than four per cent reservation and excluding persons with benchmark disabilities.

“These discrepancies in the appointment of judicial officers result in the denial of adequate representation for persons with disabilities in the judicial services. The existing judicial services rules of different states are not only ultra vires the Act but also violative of articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution,” it said.

The plea sought framing of service rules in different states in line with the provisions of the Act, ensuring equality and non-discrimination.

“These rules should be uniform and should not arbitrarily exclude persons with disabilities, even if their disability does not conflict with the judicial functions discharged by the judicial officers,” it said.

The PIL said the quota for PwD in judicial appointments in the lower judiciary should be not less than four per cent as mandated under section 34 of the Act.

“Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ declaring that the exclusion of any specified/benchmark disability under the RPwD Act by High Courts/State Governments/Union Territories, which does not align with Section 34 of the RPwD Act, is arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal, and violative of Section 34/33 of the Act as well as Articles 14, 16, 19, and 21 of the Constitution,” it said.

It sought a direction from the top court on appointment of an expert body to examine and bring uniformity to the rules that exist in “every High Court/State/ Union Territory in relation to persons with disabilities for appointment in the District Judiciary.”

It said exclusion of a particular disability should be based on reasons arrived at after proper examination by experts.

Press Trust of India

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