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Age relaxation to be granted to all those eligible for appointment to the post of Special Education Teachers (SETs) keeping in view shortage of SET’s: Delhi HC

Delhi High Court has pulled up Delhi Government for not filling the post of Special Education Teachers despite pending vacancies and directed government to undertake a further process of recruitment to fill up the vacant posts of SET without any delay, and to incorporate the clause of grant of age relaxation to all candidates applying for the said posts to the extent required. Courts order came while it was hearing a writ petition filed by candidate who challenged the rejection of his candidature from the said post by the Government of Delhi.

A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi & Justice Rekha Palli said that in a case like this, where there is a dearth of suitably qualified candidates for SET, it is qualification and merit which should be given due precedence. Relaxation of age ought to have been granted for appointment to the post of SET to all, who were otherwise eligible.

“While directing so, we are also mindful of the fact that women candidates selected for the same post have been granted a blanket relaxation of 10 years and, therefore, we see no reason as to why, in the light of the admitted shortage of SETs, the same relaxation was not granted to the male candidates as well”, Court added further.

The petitioner who filed the petition acquired his degree in B. Ed. (Special Education) in the year 2009 from Durga Bhai Deshmukh College of Education Teacher, Delhi University. The petitioner also holds a degree in M.A. (Psychology) and had qualified the Central Teaching Eligibility Test (CTET) conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in June, 2011.

The petitioner assailed the order of central administrative Tribunal in Delhi High Court where in it had observed that “the relief seeking direction to the respondents to give age relaxation is not permissible as per law and it is totally the prerogative of the executive in exercising the power under Rule 5 of the Recruitment Rules and unless sufficient ground has been shown, this Tribunal cannot interfere in such matters.”

The petitioner argued before Delhi High Court that even though the Tribunal had dismissed his plea but it has observed that “the respondents should consider the aspect that the post of SET had been created on the directions of the Courts for a laudable purpose, i.e., to help, train and guide children who are differently-abled. However, if a large number of existing vacancies for the post of SET were permitted to remain unfilled, despite the availability of ‘over aged’ qualified candidates; the very purpose for which such posts were created would be frustrated, thereby affecting the rights of differently-abled children across the country.”

Delhi High Court said that the legislature, while extending free and compulsory education to all children in the country as per its constitutional mandate was sensitive to the special care and assistance required by differently – abled children while pursuing their education and has, thus, endeavoured to protect and further their rights to education by inserting special provision to that effect. For the discharge of the statutory duties and responsibilities cast on the State in Section 3 of the Right to Education Act, and Sections 16 and 17 of the Disabilities Act, the engagement of SET is absolutely essential, as only those teachers who are specially trained to deal with children with special needs can effectively achieve the said objectives. A statutory duty has been cast upon the respondents to ensure that all educational institutions, funded and recognised by them, provide inclusive education to children with special needs and raise the requisite infrastructure to serve that purpose. The respondents have, in fact, been directed to ensure that this process of inclusivity of disabled children begins by ensuring that they are admitted in educational institutions without discrimination, and are granted equal opportunities to partake in activities with other children. The respondents are also obligated to put in place and promote adequate measures in furtherance of the objective to attain inclusive education for children with special needs by inter alia facilitating research to improve the methodology adopted to teach them and monitoring their overall progress within the existing educational system.

“In the light of these statutory duties cast upon the respondents what emerges is that, though, the respondents initiated the process of creating the post of SET for schools under the GNCTD, they filled the same only under the directions of this Court; even though there was a statutory duty cast upon them to do so on their own accord, not only under the Disabilities Act but also under the Right to Education Act”, said High Court.

The Delhi High Court thus granting relief to the petitioner also directed the Government of NCT of Delhi to undertake a further process of recruitment to fill up the vacant posts of SET without any delay, and to incorporate the clause of grant of age relaxation to all candidates applying for the said posts to the extent required.

 – India Legal Bureau

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