Asking the government institutions of higher education and other such institutions to comply with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Supreme Court on December 16, 2017 observed that people with disability have the right to get higher education and not making adequate provisions to facilitate their proper education would amount to ‘discrimination’.
The top court bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed that that appropriate action would be taken against educational institutions which will violate the provisions of the Act.
The verdict from the top court came in the wake of a plea which raised key issues such as non-implementation of reservation of seats in educational institutions as provided in the Act and provision for proper access to orthopaedically disabled persons to allow them to freely move in educational institutions.
Asking the University Grants Commission (UGC) to constitute a committee to consider guidelines for accessibility of disabled students in universities and colleges, the apex court said that the committee would undertake a detailed study to make provisions in respect of accessibility and facilities of teaching for disabled persons and would also suggest the modalities for implementing those suggestions, their funding and monitoring.
“The expert committee may also consider feasibility of constituting an in-house body in each educational institution (of teachers, staff, students and parents) for taking care of day-to-day needs of differently abled persons as well as for implementation of the schemes that would be devised by the expert committee,” the bench said.
The entire process would be completed by June 30 next year and a report in this regard would be submitted in July 2018, the top court observed.
The top court also noted that students with disabilities, under the 2016 Act, should be given an upper age relaxation of five years for admission in institutions of higher education.
“Accordingly, we direct that all those institutions which are covered by the obligations provided under Section 32 of the Disabilities Act, 2016 shall comply with the provisions of Section 32 while making admission of students in educational courses of higher education each year,” the top court said.
Asking the educational institutions to submit a list of number of disabled persons admitted in each course every year to the chief commissioner or state commissioner, the top court observed that it is important to make sure that education is imparted to the disabled students in a fruitful manner.
“To ensure the level-playing field, it is not only essential to give necessary education to the persons suffering from the disability, it is also imperative to see that such education is imparted to them in a fruitful manner,” it said.
With regard to the admission to law colleges, the court said that intimation about number of admission given to disabled students should be sent to the Bar Council of India (BCI).
“Other educational institutions will notify the compliance, each year, to the UGC. It will be within the discretion of the BCI and/or UGC to carry out inspections of such educational institutions to verify as to whether the provisions are complied with or not,” it said.