Rejects contention that those suffering from over 70 per cent of disability alone were eligible for reservation

The Madras High Court Bench here has disagreed with the contention of the Director of Teacher Education, Research and Training that only those suffering from more than 70 per cent of disability were eligible to claim three per cent reservation meant for the physically challenged in gaining admission into teacher training institutes.

Allowing a writ petition filed by P. Senthil Murugan, a candidate who suffered from orthopaedic disability assessed to be 40 per cent, Justice D. Hariparanthaman wondered how the Director could insist on 70 per cent disability when the officer was not able to substantiate his claim either through a statutory prescription or a government order passed to that effect.

The judge pointed out that Section 2 (t) of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, described a ‘person with disability' as the one who was suffering from not less than 40 per cent of any kind of disability (including blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco motor disability, mental retardation and mental illness) as certified by a medical authority.

Further Section 33 of the Act makes it mandatory for the government to reserve not less than three per cent of vacancies under the physically challenged quota. Of the three per cent, one must be reserved for those suffering from blindness or low vision, one for those suffering from hearing impairment, and the third for those suffering from loco motor disability or cerebral palsy.

Therefore, there was no justification in denying admission to the petitioner in the teacher training institute on the ground that he did not suffer 70 per cent disability, the judge said. He also rejected yet another contention raised by the Director that Mr. Senthil Murugan had secured only 44 per cent of marks in the qualifying examinations as against the minimum requirement of 45 per cent.

Mr. Justice Hariparanthaman pointed out that the government in May, 2010, had granted exemption to two physically challenged students who had secured only 41.33 per cent and 44.75 per cent marks in the qualifying examinations. A similar benefit could be given to the present petitioner too, he said and ordered the DTE to approve the petitioner's admission.

The petitioner had initially filed a writ petition in 2005 seeking relaxation of the minimum requirement of 45 per cent marks. That petition was disposed of with a direction to the government to consider his plea. Thereafter, he filed another writ in 2009 with a similar plea and the court passed a similar order once again along with a rider that his plea must be considered within four weeks.

After this, he gained admission in a private teacher training institute at Kalayarkoil in Sivaganga district. But the DTE refused to approve his admission and hence the present writ petition. He had also written the semester examinations on the basis of interim directions issued by the court from time to time in the present case.