|Case No.||Writ Petition No. 1963/2018||Date of Filing||12/01/2018||Status||Disposed||Petitioners||Karnataka Rajya Vikalachetnara Rakshana Samiti||Respondents||Indian Oil Corporation; Bharat Petroleum; Hindustan Petroleum; Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Union of India and Ministry of Social Welfare and Development, Union of India|
In January 2018, the present Public Interest Litigation was brought under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (“RPD Act”) challenging the actions of the Respondent No. 1 in the appointment of LPG distributors vide Notification dated 17.08.2018. In its call for the selection of 238 LPG distributors in various districts of Karnataka, the Respondent No. 1 failed to reserve 5% of the distributorships, amounting to 11 spots, for persons with disabilities as mandated under section 37 of the RPD Act. Instead, only 6 positions were reserved which was less than even 3% of 238 distributorships.
The Petitioner challenged the manner of appointment of LPG distributors on multiple grounds. First, persons with disabilities are entitled to 5% reservations in all poverty alleviation and developmental schemes under Section 37 of the RPD Act, despite which the mandated amount of reservations had not been provided with respect to appointment of LPG distributors. Second, under the Unified Guidelines for Selection of LPG Distributors issued by the Respondent No. 1, no concession in application fee or security deposits had been granted in favour of persons with disabilities. Further, no provision for financial assistance made in their favour as mandated under Section 19 of the RPD Act, despite the same having been made for persons from SC / ST communities. Third, persons with disabilities were not provided with relaxation of the upper age limit despite the Office Memoranda issued by the Central Government, which is in violation of Section 34 of the RPD Act.
After hearing the arguments, the Court granted interim relief dated 09.02.2018, in favour of the petitioners and staying all appointments. However, by order dated 31.08.2018, the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka held that the Respondents No. 1 to 3, being state owned oil companies, are not required to reserve 5% of the 238 LPG distributorships for persons with disabilities as mandated under Section 37 of the RPD Act as LPG distributorships do not come within the definition of poverty alleviation and developmental schemes with reference to the distributors and is a poverty alleviation scheme only with reference to the consumers.
The Petitioners have challenged this final order and judgment dated 31.08.2018 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the ground that the High Court incorrectly defined the nature of LPG distributorships. The Petitioners have contended that it is in fact a poverty alleviation and welfare measure as it provides sustainable employment to the poor and disadvantaged populations and reservations are provided for SCs, STs, OBCs and freedom fighters. Further, the Petitioners also contended that the failure of the High Court to make any findings on the concessions to be provided to persons with disabilities in the selection procedure for award of LPG distributorships, which was left to the Petitioner to make representations to the Respondents, is arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The matter was heard and dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in November 2018 on the ground that LPG distributorships is not a development scheme and further that schemes for such purposes are required to be notified and must also clearly mention that it is a development welfare scheme.