“Earmark one advertised post in ongoing recruitment process”

The Delhi High Court has paved the way for three per cent reservation for the disabled in the Higher Judicial Service by giving directions for earmarking one of the advertised posts in the ongoing recruitment process. The post, to be clubbed with more reserved vacancies, will be filled up in the next recruitment exercise.

If the High Court’s Registrar-General is not in a position to advertise all the vacancies, a special recruitment procedure will be carried out in respect of only the earmarked vacancies falling to the share of those entitled to be considered under the three per cent quota under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, a Division Bench has held.

In its judgment pronounced on Tuesday on a writ petition moved by a lawyer, Nishant S. Diwan, the Court directed the Registrar-General to complete the recruitment drive for the disability quota within one year of declaration of results in the current appointment process. The Higher Judicial Service comprises the cadre of the Additional District and Sessions Judges.

The Bench, comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice R. V. Easwar, noted in its 24-page verdict that since the total number of advertised posts was only 14, it would not be possible to earmark any post under the three per cent quota. “The most feasible approach would be to determine the total number of posts that are to be filled in this quota before actually taking steps to fill them,” the Court observed while issuing directions.

The petitioner, practising as a lawyer since 1998, claimed to be suffering from locomotor disability which entitled him to benefits under the Disabilities Act, including reservation in government employment.

However, the three per cent reservation for the disabled applicable to the Civil Judges and Magistrates as well as the members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunals is not available to those competing for recruitment in the Delhi Higher Judicial Service. Excluding DHJS from the benefit of reservation was “arbitrary and discriminatory”, contended petitioner Mr. Diwan.

The High Court establishment argued that the petitioner could not claim a right to be considered as a disabled candidate in the absence of a specific determination under Section 32 of the Disabilities Act. Besides, since the DHJS examination is scheduled for April 6, any interdiction by the Court at this stage would disturb the timeline and delay the recruitment process.

While partly allowing the writ petition, the High Court relied on a 2013 judgment of the Supreme Court in Union of India vs. National Federation of the Blind through which a wide nature of rights for the disabled and corresponding obligation for quota in employment has been mandated.

The Court also said there was no material to suggest that the DHJS officers performed duties and functions which were radically different from those of Civil Judges and Magistrates. Other posts whose holders discharge judicial functions have also been accorded the benefit of disability quota. “The non-inclusion of DHJS cadre posts for reservation under the Disabilities Act cannot be upheld. It amounts to discrimination,” stated the Bench.

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