D.N.I.S News Network - In a legal battle that went on for four long years, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of a visually impaired candidate to appear for the Bank Probationary Officers Examination under the general category, saying that visual impairment cannot be a ground for rejecting a candidature.
Hearing a writ petition filed by Amita, a person with visual impairment, the bench constituting Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari and Justice Tarun Chatterjee ruled that no candidate with requisite qualification could be denied permission to appear in the exam solely on the ground that he or she is visually impaired. The judges also observed that a candidate with visual impairment could apply under the general category quota.
The Banking Services Recruitment Board (B.S.R.B.) had rejected Amita’s application saying that candidates with visual impairment are not appointed to the post of Bank Probationary Officer. Amita had applied for the post advertised by the Board for Indian Overseas Bank.
The apex court, in its Order dated 11 August, 2005, said: “While filling up the said application form, the writ petitioner mentioned that she was a blind candidate so that the Board could make adequate arrangement of a scribe for her during the entrance test as is normally done. Unfortunately, the application of the writ petitioner for writing the examination, as stated above, was returned with the following Order: "As we do not recruit blind candidates for the post of Probationary Officers, your application is rejected."
On behalf of the writ petitioner, Neeru Vaid contended that the Order passed by the Board rejecting the application of the writ petitioner on the ground that being a visually impaired lady, she could not be recruited in the Bank for the Post of Probationary Officers, was erroneous on its face as in the advertisement the requirements of the Board were only to the extent that a candidate should not be less than 21 years and not above 30 years and he or she should be a Graduate. It was also argued that denial of opportunity to sit and write the examination in question also violated Articles 14, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
In the counter affidavit, the Board had relied on a Circular issued by the Government of India, Department of Personnel and Training O.M. No.F. 36034/4/ESTT. (SCT) dated 25th November 1986, which identified post of General Banking Officer as suitable only for the following 4 categories: -
1. BL-----Both legs affected but not arms
2. OS-----One arm affected (R or L)
3. OL--- One leg affected (R &/OL)
4. MW- Muscular weakness and limited physical endurance.
The Board questioned the capability of a visually impaired person to serve the post of Probationary Officer in the Banks.
The apex court, however, dismissed the assertions made the Board, in view of specific stand taken by the Union of India in their written submission and affidavits in which it “categorically stated that a visually impaired candidate would be entitled to write the examination and compete the same along with other general candidates as if she was a general candidate in the said examination and in the event he/she wants to compete the examination on reserved category in that case also he/she will be entitled to sit as a reserve (category) candidate in the said examination when some percentage of the posts are earmarked for visually impaired candidates.”
The judgement said: “We are of the view that the Order passed by the Board rejecting the application of the writ petitioner on the aforesaid ground cannot be sustained. The requirements asked for by the Board for writing the examination for appointment to the post of Probationary Officer in the Bank were that a candidate shall not be less than 21 years and not above 30 years and that the candidate must possess a Graduation degree. There is no dispute that the writ petitioner has satisfied the aforesaid two conditions.”
“We are of the view that the Order passed by the Board rejecting the application of the writ petitioner on the aforesaid ground cannot be sustained,” the judgement said.