Indian Campus

Curbing disabled people’s right to higher education will amount to discrimination: SC

Higher education: The Supreme Court has made it clear that people with disability are entitled to higher education and if adequate provisions are not made to facilitate the same, it would amount to “discrimination”.

Higher Education: The Supreme Court has made it clear that people with disability are entitled to higher education and if adequate provisions are not made to facilitate the same, it would amount to “discrimination”. All government institutions of higher education, which were receiving aid from the government, were directed to comply with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Reservation of five per cent

According to the act, reservation of not less than five per cent seats have to be provided for persons with benchmark disabilities.

A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that appropriate consequential action under the provisions of the Act would be initiated against the defaulting educational institutions. It asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to set up a committee to consider the feasibility of having guidelines for accessibility of students with disabilities in universities and colleges.

Expert committee to be set up

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 bench said, “The expert committee might constitute 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 plea that lead to the court’s verdict had raised three key issues, including the 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.

A provision under the 2016 Act provided that persons with benchmark disabilities shall 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,” it said.

Such educational institutions will be required to submit the details of disabled persons admitted in each course every year to the chief commissioner or state commissioner.