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Sacking an employee on grounds of schizophrenia violates Disability Act: Bombay H.C.

D.N.I.S. News Network- In a landmark judgement that has been hugely welcomed by the disability sector, the Bombay High Court has ruled that employees who develop mental health problems cannot be sacked from service as it amounts to discrimination.

The judgement went into interpretation of Section 47 (dealing with non-discrimination) of the Disability Act 1995 and asserted that the authorities should either shift the employee concerned to another post with the same pay scale and service benefits or create a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available.

The judgment came on a petition filed by Ashwini Desai against Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj General Hospital, Solapur. Desai worked as a staff nurse in the hospital and developed schizophrenia around October 1999. Desai was asked to leave her job on January 4 2003, on the basis of a certification by the hospital.

Reacting to the judgment, Dr. Bhargavi Davar, Managing Trustee, Bapu Trust and Director Centre for Advocacy in Mental Health, Pune, said: “Everyone is applauding the judgment as reinstatement of rights of persons with a psychosocial disability. I do agree with this. The Maharashtra Government, unlike Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and some other southern states, has been very resistant to bringing disability perspective and benefits to persons labelled with a mental illness. Officials there are not even aware of the seventh category. I hope the judgment will wake up, if not force, the Disability Department of Maharashtra into doing something.”

“With respect to the person concerned with this judgment, let me hope that the said hospital will also create conducive environment for her continuing work in a happy and meaningful way. That would be the test of a true restoration of her rights. The recent discussions surrounding the United Nations convention suggest that it is not only enough to acknowledge the disability, but it is equally mandatory to provide the necessary assistance to minimise the social, economic and other costs of the disability,” she added.