The Supreme Court on Tuesday took up the PIL seeking directions to the Centre to issue specific guidelines to ensure students with disabilities participate equally with others in online classes.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice A.S. Bopanna, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy directed the registry to list the matter to an appropriate bench.
The PIL, filed by Advocate Sanchita Ain, seeks protection and enforcement of the fundamental right to equality and right to life of students with disabilities with regard to the conduct of online classes and examinations by educational institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The universities, colleges are conducting online classes during the pandemic without considering the various challenges faced by students with disabilities and meeting their access needs and without providing reasonable accommodations to them. Students with disabilities are in a deplorable state with no access to lectures, study materials or assistance for those students who need individualized support.” said the plea.
“While persons with disabilities have been struggling in every field during this pandemic and the issues of lack of digital accessibility and exclusion of persons with disabilities have never stared us at our face as during these times, the question of introducing inclusive technologies for a post COVID world in the field of education is the most crucial owing to the impact it would have on generations to come,” the plea stated.
“The Petitioner organization is before the Hon’ble Court against the blatant act of discrimination against the students with disabilities for not issuing specific directions to ensure that the students with disabilities can participate and benefit equally with others in the field of education while attending online classes and also to take into consideration the plight of such students while finalizing the examination schedule,” it claimed
“Denial of reasonable accommodation constitutes discrimination under Section 2(h) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (hereinafter, “RPWD C Act”) and is thus a violation of persons with disabilities under Article 14 of the Constitution,” the plea said.
The plea also submitted, “Students with disabilities have suffered the most among all the students in the wake of COVID-19 crisis. The online system of education is set on standards that make it out of reach of students with disabilities, leading to their exclusion in the field of education. This further denies students with disabilities to have equal opportunities in future and to live a life of purpose and human dignity. Therefore, unless positive measures are taken by the government to ensure that in reality students with disabilities are enabled to exercise and enjoy their rights equally with others, the current system of education is discriminative against students with disabilities as well as violates their right to live with dignity and enjoy life at par with others.”