Denial of reasonable accommodation to the disabled is discrimination, says Supreme Court

SC says dysgraphia-hit student was wrongfully deprived of compensatory time at NEET

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that denial of “reasonable accommodation” to a disabled person will amount to discrimination.

The apex court judgment came on a plea by a student who suffers from dysgraphia. She was not allowed an hour’s compensatory time to complete her NEET paper this year. Giving her extra time amounted to reasonable accommodation for her disability. Moreover, the invigilator at her centre “forcibly” collected the answer sheet from her.

Avni Prakash, the student, was entitled to the extra time under the NEET Bulletin 2021 and the Guidelines for Written Examination issued by the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Justice on August 29, 2018.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held Ms. Prakash was “wrongfully deprived of compensatory time of one hour while appearing for the NEET without any fault of her own”.

The court threw out the National Testing Agency’s (NTA) argument that NEET was a mammoth exercise in which 16 lakh students register and 15 lakh appear. Mistakes are bound to happen.

Justice Chandrachud said individual rights could not be sacrificed cheaply on the excuse that such mistakes were the “necessary consequence” of such huge competitive exams.

“Behind the abstract number of ‘15 lakh students’ lie human lives that can be altered due to the inadvertent, yet significant errors of the first respondent [NTA] … Individual injustices originating in a wrongful denial of rights and entitlements prescribed under the law cannot be sent into oblivion on the ground that these are a necessary consequence of a competitive examination,” Justice Chandrachud admonished.

The court gave the NTA a week to figure how it could “rectify the injustice” done to Ms. Prakash.

“In the future, the first respondent shall ensure that provisions which are made at the NEET in terms of the rights and entitlements available under the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 are clarified in the NEET Bulletin by removing ambiguity,” the court directed.

Justice Chandrachud said Ms. Prakash suffered because the personnel at the exam centre was not trained.

“In the absence of adequate training, rights conferred on candidates with specified disabilities by Parliament, are set at nought,” the Supreme Court underscored.

Source: Read Full Article