|Case No.||WP 8474/2021||Date of Filing||22/05/2021||Status||Pending||Petitioners||National Federation of the Blind||Respondents||1. The Registrar General and Secretary, Civil Judges Recruitment Committee 2. State Government of Karnataka 3. The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms|
This petition is filed as a public interest litigation under Article 226 of the Constitution by the National Federation of the Blind, on behalf of all visually impaired persons in the State of Karnataka seeking reservations for the posts of civil judges in the lower judiciary. This petition has been filed to protect their rights for equal opportunity in public employment and to ensure effective implementation of their employment.
The challenged notification of the High Court, dated 26.3.2021, called for applications for 94 vacancies for the post of civil judge. In it, there are no posts reserved for persons with blindness and low vision. Only those with physical or orthopaedic disability (one leg, one arm or both legs) have been provided 1% reservation, and even these are reservations only in the 20 backlog vacancies for such persons. No posts have been reserved in the 74 current vacancies.
According to Section 34 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 4% of posts must be reserved for persons with disabilities, out of which 1% should be for those with blindness and low vision. The posts for Civil Judges in the Subordinate Judiciary have also been identified as being suitable for persons with blindness and low vision by the Central Government, yet no posts are reserved for them.
The scientific advancement in our world has enabled visually impaired persons to discharge all the functions of a judge that others able-bodied persons can. There are and have been blind judges or judges with low vision in many courts around the world. Therefore, there is no rhyme or reason in not reserving the mandated percentage of seats for visually impaired persons in the recruitment of civil judges.
The Supreme Court in Vikash Kumar v. UPSC & Others, 2021 SCCOnline SC 84, held that the judgement rendered in V. Surendra Mohan v. State of Tamil Nadu (2019) 4 SCC 237, where the requirements for a Civil Judge should not be more than 50% visual or hearing impairment, would not be binding. The court held, “In light of the fact that the view of this court in Mohan was rendered in a case under the 1995 Act which has now been replaced by the RPD Act 2016 and in light of the absence of a reasonable accommodation analysis by this Court, the Mohan judgment stands on a legally vulnerable footing. It would not be a binding precedent, after enforcement of the RPD Act 2016.” Despite this judgement, in the present case, there are no reservations for persons with blindness or hearing impairment for the post of civil judge.
This case is currently pending before the High Court of Karnataka and is listed for 29.10.21.
This post was authored by Sheerene Mohamed and Jagriti P., a fourth year student from CNLU, Patna who interned at CLPR.