Volume 2 Issue 1 - January 01, 2004

The Disabilities Act or the 'Disabling' Act?

The Disabilities Act of 1995 was meant to ensure equal opportunities for disabled people in government jobs, but instead it turned into an ugly and deceptive stumbling block for three disabled yet deserving candidates. A report by Anne-Marie Prayas.

Between the Civil Service exams of 2002 and 2003, there have been three disabled candidates who were denied the posting allotted to their high rank. Why? Because the Disabilities Act passed in 1995 crippled their career even though their physical disabilities did not do the same. All three candidates secured high ranks in the SC/ST quota but while two were relegated to lower priority services, the third was thrown right out!

Picture of Rigzian Sampheal

Rigzian Sampheal scored an overall rank of 120 and ranked second from all the ST candidates. He would surely have made it to the IAS if not for the stiff knee which he sustained in an accident. Lokesh Kumar had an overall rank of 132 and stood ninth from all the SCs. He was eligible for the IAS too but a mild polio in his right leg snatched the job out of his hands and landed him in the lowly Indian Information Service, alongside Rigzian.

The worst is yet to be said: Satish M. scored an overall rank of 249 and a rank 30 out of 38 from the SCs. Had he been another candidate who did not suffer from a mild polio in his right hand, he would have easily made it to the Indian Revenue Service. But the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) felt it wiser to send him packing back home, without any posting. Perhaps they did not notice the able left hand with which he wrote the exam and scored his noteworthy rank, or perhaps they were too busy observing the rules!

Rule 1: Disabled should be provided reservation.
Rule 2: No jobs have so far been reserved in the IAS for the disabled.
Rule 1 was read with Rule 2 and what resulted was three cases of blatant injustice. After clearing one of the toughest examinations in the country, with flying colours, these three candidates were defeated by a law that was supposed to aid them.

Picture of Lokesh Kumar D.S.

The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection Of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 was enacted to foster an environment of inclusiveness, but it has only succeeded in doing just the opposite. Disregarding rank, the law has allotted jobs for the disabled in only three of the 26 Civil Services. The coveted IAS, IFS and IRS do not feature anywhere in the list of job reservations.

Deception lies in the fact that at the time of giving the exam and the interview, no one from the DoPT or the UPSC felt it necessary to warn these candidates of their forthcoming fate. When they demanded an explanation for the injustice, an addendum was passed by the Union Public Service Commission in Employment News of December 13, stating that disabled people cannot lay claim to any of the jobs in the country's top bureaucracy such as the IAS, IFS and the IRS. "This is an atrocity committed by the State. It's the denial of basic human rights," says Satish M.

Ironically, these candidates would have enjoyed a post in their entitled Services if not for the 'benefits' of the Law. Such was the case with several successful disabled officers who gave the exam before the law came into being. The list of disabled officers in the Services is headed by Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad, R. Raman (Education Secretary of Uttar Pradesh), Ariz Ahmed (Deputy Commissioner of Sunitpur, Assam), Sonal Mishra (DDO of Surat) and S.V.S. Ranga Rao (Sub-divisional Magistrate, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh). They were lucky to have given the exam when they did or they would not have been where they are today.

Rigzian, Lokesh and Satish are not only living testimonies of a failed and insensitive government, they are also warning signs to every disabled candidate who dreams of making a career in the Civil Services.

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