[Editorial Analysis] For equal treatment: On upholding rights of the disabled

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Rights of the persons with disabilities Act 2016
Mains level: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Context:

• Supreme Court held that people suffering from disability are entitled to the same benefits and relaxations as candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes.

• Supreme Court has recognised the travails of the disabled in accessing education or employment, regardless of their social status.

Rights of the persons with disabilities Act 2016:

• Even though drawn from all sections of society, those suffering from the several categories of disability recognised by law have always been an under-privileged and under-represented section, a fact noticed in official studies in the past.

• SC ruled that the Delhi High Court had correctly decided in 2012 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 SC/ST candidates”.

• Therefore, it took the view that when SC/ST candidates get a relaxation of a certain percentage of marks to qualify for admission, the same relaxation shall apply to disabled candidates too.

• In the 2012 case before the High Court, a university had allowed a 10% concession in the minimum eligibility requirement for SC/ST candidates, and 5% concession for disabled applicants.

• The High Court ruled against this differential treatment, terming it discriminatory.

• The larger principle behind this was that without imparting proper education to those suffering from disabilities, “there cannot be any meaningful enforcement of their rights”.

• It can only be more applicable, now that a fresh law that aims for a greater transformative effect, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, is in place.

Counterpoint:

• A counterpoint to the idea of eliminating the distinction between the disabled and the SC and ST may arise.

• Questions can be raised to equate physical or mental disability with the social disability and experience of untouchability suffered by marginalised sections for centuries.

• For instance, the social background of disabled persons from a traditionally privileged community may gave them an advantage
over those suffering from historical social disability. However, this may not always be the case.

• The Delhi High Court had cited the abysmally low literacy and employment rates among persons with disabilities.

• Educational indicators captured in the 2001 Census showed that illiteracy among the disabled was much higher than the general population figure.

• The share of disabled children out of school was quite higher than other major social categories.

• The 2001 Census put the illiteracy rate among the disabled at 51%.

• There was similar evidence of their inadequate representation in employment too.

• The 2016 law sought to address this by raising the quota for the disabled from 3% to 5% and envisaging incentives for the private sector to hire them too.

Conclusion:

• It is vital that this is fully given effect to so that this significant segment of the population is not left out of social and economic advancement.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Labour laws, consider the following statements:

1. UP has suspended the application of almost all labour laws in the state for the next three years including the Minimum Wages Act.

2. The subject of ‘Labour’ falls in the State list.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

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