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Supreme Court issues notice to Centre, States on plea challenging exclusion of PwDs from appointment in district judiciary

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Central government on a public interest litigation that challenged the exclusion of persons with disabilities (PwDs) from appointment as judges in the district judiciary.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra sought response on the matter from all High Courts across the country and the state governments.

The plea had contended that the existing judicial services rules violated the fundamental rights of PwDs by not complying with the 4 percent reservation mandated for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities. ​

Filed through Advocate Shashank Singh, the plea further flagged inconsistencies in the reservation percentage among different States.

It said that an expert body should be constituted to examine and standardise these rules, apart from striking down the existent discriminatory hiring practices that were inconsistent with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.

The plea, drawn by Advocate Singh, along with Advocates Prapti Shrivastava, Akash Alex and Pulkit Tomer, contended that the respondents failed to recognise that with the support of new technology, persons with Benchmark disabilities were also able to perform various tasks on an equal basis with others.

It said a person could ‘see’ and ascertain the demeanor of a witness even without sight and read documents with the help of software & other appliances, even without physical sight or vision.

Even a visually-impaired person could listen to a witness and hear arguments of counsel. Further, there were sitting judges at all levels of the judiciary across the world over, who were competent even with low vision and blindness, it added.

The plea further argued that the requirement of the job of a judge was that a person should be able to understand the facts and submissions, discern, evaluate the evidence, and make a decision for which a keen judicial mind was needed and not the physical faculties of sight.

It said by not identifying the post of a Judge for persons with benchmark disabilities despite the Central government identifying the same as being suitable, discriminated against such persons by making stereotypical assumptions as to what they were capable of, noted the petition.

The petitioners, two specially-abled academicians, were represented by Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh.

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