New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has held that a university here has to provide equal reservation to disabled candidates in admission as available to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates to avoid "discrimination".
The court said it was "discriminatory" on the part of Delhi Technical University (DTU) to provide only five percent relaxation in admission to disabled candidates in comparison to 10 percent reservation to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates and asked the university to also extend this to disabled candidates.
"People suffering from disabilities 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," a division bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw observed in a judgment made available only now.
The bench was dealing with the question of law as to the quantum of relaxation in standards to be provided to disabled candidates for admission to engineering college in the reserved quota for persons with disabilities.
The question that arose before the court was whether or not the relaxation provided to SC/ST candidates for B.Tech programmme at DTU, that provides technical courses, was to be extended to disabled candidates.
The court's direction came on a plea filed by one Anamol Bhandari, who is 50 percent physically disabled.
He had challenged the provisions of DTU that has provided 10 percent concession of marks in the minimum eligibility requirements for candidates belonging to SC/ST, but relaxation of only five percent for people with disabilities.
The plea said that Bhandari through AIEEE examination became eligible to be considered for admission in DTU. He secured 52.66 percent (PCM) in Class 12, whereas minimum eligibility for physically challenged candidates in the university is 55 percent, and so he was not being considered for admission for B.Tech computer science course.
"If the relaxation to people with disability candidates is given at par with SC/ST candidates, i.e., to the extent of 10 percent, then he becomes naturally eligible to be considered in DTU," the petition said.
The court, besides directing the university to provide 10 percent relaxation to physically challenged candidates, also asked it to consider Bhandari for admission in B.Tech course and, if found eligible for admission, grant him the same.
"We, therefore, hold that the provision giving only five percent concession in marks to disabled candidates as opposed to 10 percent relaxation provided to SC/ST candidates is discriminatory and people with disability are also entitled to same treatment.
"The mandate is, accordingly, issue direction to DTU to provide 10 percent relaxation. Thus, the minimum eligibility requirement for persons with disability becomes 50 percent in PCM," the order said.
Advocate Rajan Mani, amicus curiae in the case appointed by the court, told IANS: "DTU's admission criteria for general category candidates was 60 percent marks at class 12 level, relaxed by 10 percent for SC/ST candidates (i.e qualifying marks of 50 percent) but only by five percent for disabled candidates (i.e. qualifying marks of 55 percent).
DTU had sufficient seats reserved for persons with disabilities but did not find Bhandari eligible based on the qualifying standard of 55 percent for the disability reservation category, added Mani.
The university, an autonomous one that comes under the technical education department of the Delhi government, however, had told the court it is a policy decision to grant five percent relaxation to disabled students keeping the cut-off entry at 55 percent and these standards are in conformity with the Delhi University where relaxation of five percent marks is given to disabled students.
The court also highlighted the government's decision that was accepted by the Supreme Court that reservation for disabled is called horizontal reservation which cuts across all vertical categories such as SC, ST, OBC and General.
The court opined: "Since people with disabilities 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 disabled 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 percent concession to people with disabilities as well, in all categories which is extended to those disabled students who fall in the category of SC/ST," the order further added.