People with more than 50% visual/ hearing can join judiciary: SC

On Thursday, the Supreme Court observed that its judgment in V Surendra Mohan vs State of Tamil Nadu would not be binding after Right of Persons with Disabilities Act,2016 came into force.

In the Surendra Mohan case, the Supreme Court had stipulated a limit of fifty per cent disability in visual or hearing as a condition to be eligible for the post of a judicial officer was a legitimate restriction. In that case, the Court dismissed an appeal filed by one V Surendra Mohan who was held ineligible for judicial officer post as he was found to be seventy per cent blind.

However, in Vikash Kumar vs Union Public Service Commission, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court criticised Surendra Mohan decision because it did not consider the relevant provision of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 and also did not consider the principle of reasonable accommodation.

The Bench noted that u/s 20 all government establishments must provide a conducive environment and reasonable accommodation to employees who have disabilities.

As per the principle of reasonable accommodation, private parties and states should provide additional support to people with disabilities to facilitate their effective and full participation in society if additional support is not given to a person with a disability then their Fundamental Rights are violated, observed the Bench.

While giving the example of a visually impaired person, the Bench stated that they should get screen readers or a screen magnification software and hearing-impaired people should get speech to text converters.

The Bench also stated that the Mohan judgement did not discuss reasonable accommodation principle even though the judgement was rendered after enactment of the 2016 Act. The Bench opined that the cornerstone of reasonable accommodation principle was to enable a disabled person to overcome all the barriers. Even judges with more than 40-50 per cent of disabilities can discharge their duties if they are provided with adequate aid.

Hon’ble Court held that as Mohan judgement was rendered under the 1955 Act which has now been replaced with RPWD Act and lack of reasonable accommodation, Mohan judgement is not legally binding.

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