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Supreme Court directs TN's power unit to appoint a colour blind man as an engineer [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      28 October, 2023 12:48 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court directs TNs power unit to appoint a colour blind man as an engineer

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) to continue Mohamed Ibrahim, found as colour blind, in its service, as assistant engineer (AE) (Electrical).

The court set aside a Madras High Court judgment, which dismissed Ibrahim’s petition questioning TANGEDCO's decision to deny him the appointment on the ground that he was colour blind, though he cleared the public examination and also participated in the viva voce or interview, successfully. `

A bench comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar said the candidate was found with "mild" colour vision deficiency, while the public sector employer also failed to express in clear terms that it was a bar to the employment.

The court said the facts of this case demonstrated that the appellant is fit, in all senses of the term, to discharge the duties attached to the post he applied and was selected for.

"Yet, he is denied the position, for being “disabled” as he is colour blind. At the same time, he does not fit the category of PWD (persons with disabilities) under the lexicon of the universe contained within the Act. These challenges traditional understandings of what constitute “disabilities”. The court has to, therefore, travel beyond the provisions of the Act and discern a principle which can be rationally applied," the bench said.

The court noted Ibrahim is, for all purposes, treated as a person with disability, but does not fall within the categories defined in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and, nor does he possess the requisite benchmark eligibility condition under the statute.

“The facts of this case instruct us that there is nothing on record to suggest that whatever condition the appellant had, was without his awareness; his academic performance, skill and proficiency, during the course of his education nowhere appears to have highlighted the colour vision deficiency, which appears to have been discovered after his selection,” the bench said, in its judgment delivered on October 16.

The bench said the law regarding the rights of person with disabilities have set out provisions to enable participation, and empowerment of persons with disability (PWD), including affirmative action for their admission to educational institutions, entry level reservations in established controlled by the state or its agencies, and general provisions to enable physical access to institutions. The law also mandates provisioning of existing institutions, to accommodate PWDs, in physical infrastructure, and at all points to enhance full participation and functioning of such individuals.

The bench said its provisions defining “disability” and persons with disabilities are fairly elaborate; interestingly these concepts are defined in an inclusive manner, leading to potentialities for their use. It further added however, at the same time, the actual benefits in the form of affirmative action are defined by a specific category of PWDs (orthopaedical, visual, hearing, mental, etc.) and tied to the context of “benchmark” disabilities, which entitles those PWDs who qualify with a certain threshold of disability (40 per cent or more) to the affirmative action and other similar benefits.

“The nature of inclusion of specified categories only to the exclusion of other categories of disabilities, on the one hand, and the eligibility of a threshold, in the opinion of this court, constitute barriers. The twin conditions of falling within defined categories, and also a threshold condition of a minimum percentage, of such disabilities, in fact are a barrier," the bench said.

The bench said TANGEDCO’s units and organisational structure have sufficient possibility for accommodating the appellant in a unit or department which may not require utilisation of skills that involve intense engagement with colour.

 

[Read Judgment]



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