Supreme Court directs reservation in promotion of disabled persons in government jobs

Rajeev Kumar Gupta vs Union of India (Writ Petition (Civil) 521 of 2008) In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Thursday set aside Government of India instructions disallowing reservation in promotion for persons with disabilities, and held that wherever posts are identified to be suitable for disabled persons, 3% reservation must be given in direct recruitment as well as in promotion. The case, argued by Rajan Mani, Advocate of the Disability Law Initiative, in coordination with the Human Rights Law Network, represents success in a hard fought battle waged by persons with disabilities for equal opportunity and representation in the higher echelons of Government. Hitherto, disabled persons were likely to stagnate at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy, as their promotion to higher level posts was made difficult because of their physical disadvantage. In the instant case, Rajeev Kumar Gupta and seven other disabled persons serving as engineers in Prasar Bharti made the grievance that the higher level posts in the engineering cadre were filled mostly by promotion. Although these posts were suitable for persons with disabilities, the Government was denying them 3% reservation in these posts, which amounted to defeating the intent and purpose of reservation provided for in the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. At the heart of the problem were the written instructions of Government of India dated 29.12.2005, which prohibited reservation in promotion for disabled persons in Group A and B posts. Before the Supreme Court, the Government of India reiterated it's stand that that reservation in promotion for disabled persons was impermissible, quoting the Indra Sawhney judjment of 1993. The Court, however, did not find favour with this reasoning, and opined that the object of the 1995 Act was to ensure social integration of persons with disabilities through 3% reservation in employment. The Court, noting that the representation of persons with disabilities in Government jobs was admittedly very low, set aside the Government instructions of 29.12.2005, and held that wherever a Government post is identified to be suitable for persons with disabilities, 3% reservation must be provided, irrespective of whether recruitment is direct or by promotion.