The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to launch contempt proceedings against the Union government and instead appreciated its commitment to fill up over 15,000 vacancies specially identified for disabled persons by February 2016.
Lauding the government’s “unequivocal and unambiguous” commitment to give representation to disabled persons in government jobs, a Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana said there was no occasion of “wilful disobedience” seen on the part of the government to comply with a Supreme Court decision to provide 3 per cent reservation to the disabled.
The plea for contempt action was brought by NGO National Federation of the Blind. The NGO blamed the government of inaction, saying despite the efflux of time since the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, came into force and the large number of vacancies, no effort was made by the government to identify posts against which disabled persons could be appointed.
In response, Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar said nearly over 15,000 vacancies have been identified for disabled persons. Of these, 5,629 posts have already been earmarked. Process of identifying another 6,000 posts were initiated and would be filled up by December 2015. Again, the process of identifying over 3,000 more posts was yet to be initiated. But the government committed to the court that these would also be filled up by the end of February 2016.
“Filling up over 15,000 posts is a large-scale process of recruitment which the Union of India stands committed to. Induction of disabled persons in such large numbers is a positive step,” the apex court recorded its appreciation in an order.
The court, however, asked the government to look into apprehensions that there was hardly any presence of persons with visual disabilities in government jobs compared to those with orthopaedic impairments.
The Bench, however, did not deal with the issue as to whether the 3 per cent quota could be provided in cases of promotions also.
It rejected the submission that the Bombay High Court had held that reservation be given in promotions also and this decision had attained finality as the appeal and review of the government against it were rejected by the apex court.
“The SLP [special leave petition against HC order] was dismissed simpliciter. In the absence of any reason [for dismissal], we cannot speculate,” it said.
During the hearing, the Solicitor-General said that quota was not permissible in the case of promotions and it has to be given “in fresh appointments” only.
The apex court, in an order passed on October 8, 2013, provided separate 1 per cent reservation for each of the three categories of persons with disabilities, namely persons suffering from blindness and low vision, those suffering from hearing disability and those suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.