Syed Bashir-ud-Din Qadri v. Nazir Ahmed Shah

SLP(C)Nos.10669-70 of 2008 decided on 10 March 2010.

Case Summary

 In this case, the Appellant was a B.Sc. graduate with cerebral palsy who had applied for a job as a ‘Rehbar-e-Taleem’ or ‘Teaching Guide’ in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The state government had initially objected to his appointment on the ground of his disability. The appellant however, with directions from the high court, was appointed under the Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1998.

The Respondent then filed a petition challenging the order of appointment and the appellant was re-examined by the head of the Department of Neurology. It was indicated in the report that as he had cerebral palsy, he had significant speech and writing difficulties, which would make it difficult for him to perform his duties as a teacher. The high court quashed his appointment and ordered that since the appellant was unfit to the post of the teacher he should be given an alternative employment. His appeal to the division bench of the high court was dismissed and he thereafter approached the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court observed that,

“This case involves a beneficial piece of social legislation to enable persons with certain forms of disability to live a life of purpose and human dignity. This is a case which has to be handled with sensitivity and not with bureaucratic apathy, as appears to have been done as far as the appellant is concerned… It is only to be expected that the movement of a person suffering from cerebral palsy would be jerky on account of locomotor disability and that his speech would be somewhat impaired but despite the same, the legislature thought it fit to provide for reservation of 1 per cent of the vacancies for such persons. So long as the same did not impede the person from discharging his duties efficiently and without causing prejudice to the children being taught, there could, therefore, be no reason for a rigid approach to be taken not to continue with the appellant’s services as Rehbar-e-Taleem, particularly, when his students had themselves stated that they had got used to his manner of talking and did not have any difficulty in understanding the subject being taught by him… Coupled with the above is the fact that the results achieved by him in the different classes were extremely good; his appearance and demeanour in school had been highly appreciated by the committee which had been constituted pursuant to the orders of the high court to assess the appellant’s ability in conducting his classes.”

The court directed that in order to overcome the impediment of writing on the black board, an electronic external aid could be provided to the appellant, which could eliminate the need for drawing a diagram and the same could be substituted by a picture on a screen, which could be projected with minimum effort. With these directions for providing reasonable accommodation, the Supreme Court held that the disengagement of the appellant goes against the grain of the PWD Act and hence the order was set aside by the court.

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