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Apex court relief for disabled students

New Delhi, Sept. 11: The Supreme Court today directed that all government-aided educational institutions across the country “shall reserve” 3 per cent seats for admission of disabled people.

A division bench of Justices G.B. Pattanaik and Ruma Pal passed the direction on an appeal by the All Kerala Parents Association of Hearing Impaired, challenging the dismissal of their writ petition by Kerala High Court.

The appellants sought 3 per cent reservation in professional colleges in the state for disabled persons under Section 39 of the Persons with the Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act.

The high court had dismissed the petition on the grounds that Section 39 would not apply for admission and that it would apply only in relation to employment in educational institutions. The high court had drawn this conclusion on the ground that Section 39 came under Chapter VI of the Act dealing only with employment.

On appeal, the apex court said the interpretation given by the high court amounted to “doing violence to the language” of the provision since reservation for employment to the disabled was already provided under Section 33 of the Act.

The apex court said that since the language of Section 39 was clear and unambiguous, indicating the legislative intent, “there is no necessity to look for external aids for interpreting the statute”.

Section 39 provides “all government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the government shall reserve not less than three per cent seats for persons with disabilities”.

India enacted the Disabilities Act after it became a signatory in 1992 in the Asia-Pacific proclamation adopted at Beijing on the “full participation and equality of people with disabilities”.

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