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Friday, October 11, 2013

Maintenance of Reservations of 3 % = Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (in short ‘the Act’) UNION OF INDIA & ANR. Vs. NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND & ORS.- judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40868

Reservations of 3% for disabled persons under the persons with Disabilities Act in various Govt. institution - some directions to implement the same =
wherein the High Court interpreted Section 33  of  the
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,  Protection  of  Rights  and
Full Participation) Act, 1995  (in  short  ‘the  Act’)  and  issued  various
directions to be complied with by the appellants herein.=

  Held that Thus, after thoughtful consideration, we are  of  the  view  that  the
computation of reservation for persons with disabilities has to be  computed
in case of Group  A,  B,  C  and  D  posts  in  an  identical  manner  viz.,
“computing 3%  reservation  on  total  number  of  vacancies  in  the  cadre
strength” which is the intention of the  legislature.  Accordingly,  certain
clauses in the  OM  dated  29.12.2005,  which  are  contrary  to  the  above
reasoning are struck down and we direct the appropriate Government to  issue
new Office Memorandum(s) in consistent with the decision  rendered  by  this
Court.
 Further, the reservation for persons with disabilities has nothing  to do with the  ceiling  of  50%  and  hence,  Indra  Sawhney  (supra)  is  not applicable with respect to the disabled persons.


  We also reiterate that the decision in R.K. Sabharwal (supra)  is  not applicable to the reservation for the persons with disabilities  because  in the above said case, the point for consideration  was  with  regard  to  the implementation of the scheme of reservation for  SC,  ST  &  OBC,  which  is vertical  reservation,  whereas  reservation  in  favour  of  persons  with disabilities is horizontal.

    In our opinion, in  order  to  ensure  proper  implementation  of  the
reservation policy for the disabled and  to  protect  their  rights,  it  is
necessary to issue the following directions:


(i)   We hereby direct the appellant herein to issue  an  appropriate  order
modifying the OM dated 29.12.2005 and the  subsequent  OMs  consistent  with
this Court’s Order within three months from the  date  of  passing  of  this
judgment.


(ii)  We hereby direct the “appropriate Government” to  compute  the  number
of vacancies available in all the “establishments” and further identify  the
posts for disabled persons within a period of three months  from  today  and
implement the same without default.


(iii)  The  appellant  herein  shall   issue   instructions   to   all   the
departments/public sector undertakings/Government companies  declaring  that
the  non  observance  of  the  scheme  of  reservation  for   persons   with
disabilities should be considered as  an  act  of  non-obedience  and  Nodal
Officer  in  department/public  sector  undertakings/Government   companies,
responsible for the proper strict implementation of reservation  for  person
with disabilities, be departmentally proceeded against for the default.

                                                           REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                         CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                      1


                       2 CIVIL APPEAL NO.9096  OF 2013


               3 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 7541 of 2009)




Union of India & Anr.                                     .... Appellant(s)

            Versus

National Federation of
the Blind & Ors.                                        .... Respondent(s)



                               J U D G M E N T

P. Sathasivam, CJI.
1)    Leave granted.
2)    This appeal is directed against the final  judgment  and  order  dated
19.12.2008 passed by the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in  Writ  Petition
(C) No. 15828 of 2006 wherein the High Court interpreted Section 33  of  the
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,  Protection  of  Rights  and
Full Participation) Act, 1995  (in  short  ‘the  Act’)  and  issued  various
directions to be complied with by the appellants herein.

3)    Brief facts:
(a)   National Federation of the Blind-Respondent No. 1 herein  is  an  apex
organization and a society registered under the Societies Registration  Act,
1860, having  its  Head  Office  at  New  Delhi   and  is  working  for  the
protection of the rights of the visually challenged.
(b)   In the year 2006, Respondent  No.  1  herein  filed  a  writ  petition
before the High Court in public interest seeking implementation  of  Section
33 of the Act alleging that the appellants herein  have  failed  to  provide
reservation to the blind and low  vision  persons  and  they  are  virtually
excluded from  the  process  of  recruitment  to  the  Government  posts  as
stipulated under the said Act.
(c)     In the above backdrop, it is relevant to mention that  way  back  in
1977, the erstwhile Ministry of Social Welfare, Government  of  India,  made
reservation in favour of the following three categories of disabled  persons
in Group C & D posts to the extent of 1 per cent each  for  the  (i)  Blind;
(ii) Hearing  and  Speech  Impairment;  and  (iii)  persons  suffering  from
locomotor disability. 
 In the year  1986,  the  Department  of  Personnel  &
Training (DoPT), directed all the departments  to  take  into  account  both
identified and unidentified posts  for  working  out  the  total  number  of
vacancies to be reserved for each of the disabled categories.  In  spite  of
the above said executive order, various government  departments  and  public
sector undertakings did not give effect to the scheme of  reservation  which
compelled Respondent No. 1 herein to organize a nation wide agitation, as  a
result of which,  an  agreement  was  arrived  at  between  the  parties  on
27.08.1987 to undertake a Special Recruitment  Drive  for  clearing  up  the
backlog of vacancies.
(d)   On 07.02.1996, the Persons  with  Disabilities  (Equal  Opportunities,
Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act,  1995   was  brought  into
force making reservation of at least  3  percent  posts  in  all  government
establishments to the extent of 1 per cent each for  the  persons  suffering
from (i) blindness  or  low  vision;  (ii)  hearing  impairment;  and  (iii)
locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.  
After enactment of  the  said  Act,
Union of India issued various orders for ensuring proper  implementation  of
the provisions of the Act for the persons with disabilities.
(e)   Respondent No. 1 herein, by filing the above said petition before  the
High Court asserted that despite statutory provisions and various  executive
orders, discrimination against the persons with  disabilities  continued  in
filling up the vacancies in various government departments  whereas  it  was
contended  by  the  other  side  that  the  Office  Memorandum  (OM)   dated
29.12.2005, issued by the Department of Personnel  &  Training,  inter  alia
provides a system for ensuring proper implementation of  the  provisions  of
the Act for the persons with disabilities.
(f)   Vide order dated 19.12.2008, the High Court disposed of  the  petition
directing the Union of  India  to  modify  the  OM  dated  29.12.2005  being
inconsistent with the provisions  of  Section  33  of  the  Act  and  issued
several other directions.
(g)   Being aggrieved of the  above,  the  appellants  have  preferred  this
appeal by way of special leave before this Court.
(h)   Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust, Smt  S.  Rajeswari
and Association for Physically Challenged People Ordnance  Clothing  Factory
filed applications for  impleadment.   Vide  order  dated  22.07.2011,  this
Court did not allow them to  implead  but  to  act  as  intervenors  in  the
proceedings.
4)    Heard Ms. Indra Jaisingh, learned  Additional  Solicitor  General  for
the Union of India, Mr. S.K. Rungta, learned senior counsel (R-1)  appearing
in person and Mr. R. Prabhakaran, learned counsel for Intervenors.
Submissions:
5)    Ms. Indra Jaisingh,  learned  Additional  Solicitor  General  for  the
Union of India, after taking us through various provisions of  the  Act  and
OM(s) issued  by  the  Government  of  India  submitted  that  the  impugned
judgment of the High Court is  against  the  provisions  of  the  Act.   She
further pointed out that the finding of the High  Court  that  in  terms  of
Section 33 of the Act, 3% reservation for the disabled  persons  has  to  be
computed on the basis of total strength of the cadre, i.e., both  identified
as well as unidentified posts is erroneous.   In  any  event,  according  to
her, the direction of the High Court to work out backlog vacancies  for  the
disabled persons on the total cadre  strength  in  different  establishments
within one month  from  the  date  of  the  order  is  impractical  and  not
executable.  It is further highlighted that according to Section 33  of  the
Act, reservation to the persons with disabilities in an establishment  shall
be 3% of the vacancies arising in the posts which  are  identified  for  the
persons with disabilities.   The  High  Court,  by  the  impugned  judgment,
disturbed the very basic system of the reservation of posts for the  persons
with disabilities.  She further highlighted that the reservation  for  Group
C and D posts  is  being  calculated  on  the  basis  of  the  vacancies  in
identified as well  as  unidentified  posts  prior  to  the  Act  came  into
existence and in view of the provisions of Section 72 of the Act,  continued
in the same way, however, reservation for Group  A  and  B  posts  is  being
calculated on the basis of the vacancies for identified  posts  as  per  the
provisions of the Act.
6)    On the other hand, Mr.  S.K.  Rungta,  learned  senior  counsel  (R-1)
appearing in person submitted that in terms of the provisions  of  the  Act,
more particularly, Sections 32 and 33 of the Act, it is  obligatory  on  the
part of the Government establishments to provide at least 3% reservation  of
posts in the total cadre strength and not in the identified  vacancies.   He
further pointed out that though the Act was passed in 1995  since  then  the
provisions have not been strictly implemented.  He prayed for  further  time
bound direction for implementation of the same.
7)    Mr. R. Prabhakaran, learned counsel  for  intervenors  reiterated  the
submissions made by Mr. S.K. Rungta.
8)    We have perused all the relevant materials and  considered  the  rival
submissions.

Relevant Provisions:
9)     In order to answer the rival contentions, it is  desirable  to  quote
the relevant provision of the Act. Sections 2(a), 2(i),  2(j)  and  2(k)  of
the Act read as under:
      “2(a) “appropriate Government” means,-
         i) in relation to  the  Central  Government  or  any  establishment
            wholly or  substantially  financed  by  that  Government,  or  a
            Cantonment Board constituted under the Cantonment Act,  1924  (2
            of 1924), the Central Government;
        ii) in relation to a State Government or any establishment wholly or
            substantially  financed  by  that  Government   or   any   local
            authority, other than a Cantonment Board, the State Government;
       iii) in respect  of  the  Central  Co-ordination  Committee  and  the
            Central Executive Committee, the Central Government;
        iv) in respect of the State Co-ordination Committee  and  the  State
            Executive Committee, the State Government;
      2(i)  "Disability" means-
           i) blindness;
          ii) low vision;
         iii) leprosy-cured;
          iv) hearing impairment;
           v) locomotor disability;
          vi) mental retardation;
         vii) mental illness;
      2(j)  "employer" means,-
           i) in relation to a Government, the authority  notified  by  the
              Head of the Department  in  this  behalf  or  where  no  such
              authority is notified, the Head of the Department; and
          ii) in relation to an establishment, the Chief Executive  Officer
              of that establishment;
      2(k)  "establishment" means a corporation established by  or  under  a
      Central, Provincial or State Act, or an authority or a body  owned  or
      controlled or aided by the  Government  or  a  local  authority  or  a
      Government company as defined in section 617  of  the  Companies  Act,
      1956 (1 of 1956) and includes Departments of a Government;”

10)    Among  the  above  definitions,  we  are  more  concerned  with   the
definition of “establishment” under Section 2(k) of the  Act,  which  is  an
exhaustive definition and covers (i) a corporation established by  or  under
a Central, Provincial or State Act, or (ii) an authority or a body owned  or
controlled or aided by the Government or  a  local  authority,  or  (iii)  a
Government company as defined in Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956  and
(iv) Departments of a Government.
11)   Chapter VI of the Act  deals  with  the  employment  of  persons  with
disabilities.  The relevant Sections of the said Chapter are as under:-
      “32. Identification of posts which can be reserved  for  persons  with
      disabilities. - Appropriate Governments shall-
        (a)      identify  posts,  in  the  establishments,  which  can  be
        reserved for the persons with disability;
        (b)      at periodical intervals not exceeding three years,  review
        the list of posts identified  and  up-date  the  list  taking  into
        consideration the developments in technology.
      33. Reservation of Posts - Every appropriate Government shall  appoint
      in every establishment such percentage  of  vacancies  not  less  than
      three per cent for persons or class  of  persons  with  disability  of
      which one per cent each shall be reserved for persons suffering from-
        (i)      blindness or low vision;
        (ii)     hearing impairment;
        (iii) locomotor disability or cerebral palsy,


      in the posts identified for each disability:


           Provided that the appropriate Government may, having  regard  to
      the type of work carried on in any  department  or  establishment,  by
      notification subject to such conditions, if any, as may  be  specified
      in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions  of
      this section.
      36. Vacancies not filled up to  be  carried  forward.-  Where  in  any
      recruitment year any vacancy under section 33, cannot be filled up due
      to non-availability of a suitable person with disability or,  for  any
      other sufficient reason, such vacancy shall be carried forward in  the
      succeeding recruitment year and if in the succeeding recruitment  year
      also suitable person with disability is not available, it may first be
      filled by interchange among the three categories and only  when  there
      is no person with disability available for the post in that year,  the
      employer shall fill up the vacancy by appointment of a  person,  other
      than a person with disability:
           Provided that if the nature of vacancies in an establishment  is
      such that a given category of person cannot be employed, the vacancies
      may be interchanged among the three categories with the prior approval
      of the appropriate Government.”
12)   In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections  (1)  and  (2)  of
Section 73 of the Act, the  Central  Government  enacted  the  Persons  with
Disabilities  (Equal  Opportunities,   Protection   of   Rights   and   Full
Participation) Rules, 1996.
13)   After enactment  of  the  above  Act,  in  order  to  consolidate  the
existing  instructions  in  line  with  the  provisions  of  the   Act,   on
29.12.2005, Government of  India,  Department  of  Personnel  and  Training,
issued certain instructions by  way  of  an  Office  Memorandum  (OM),  with
regard to the reservation for  the  persons  with  disabilities  (physically
handicapped persons) in posts and  services.   The  said  Office  Memorandum
specifically states  that  it  shall  supersede  all  previous  instructions
issued on the subject  so  far.  
Respondent  No.  1  herein  has  commended
various clauses of the OM dated 29.12.2005.  The  relevant  clauses  of  the
same are extracted hereinbelow:
      “2. QUANTUM OF RESERVATION
      (i)   Three percent of the vacancies, in case of direct recruitment to
      Group A, B,  C  and  D  posts  shall  be  reserved  for  persons  with
      disabilities of which one per cent each shall be reserved for  persons
      suffering from (i) blindness or low vision,  (ii)  hearing  impairment
      and  (iii)  locomotor  disability  or  cerebral  palsy  in  the  posts
      identified for each disability;
      (ii)  Three percent of the vacancies in case of promotion to Group  D,
      and Group C posts in which the element of direct recruitment, if  any,
      does not exceed 75%, shall be reserved for persons  with  disabilities
      of which one per cent each shall be  reserved  for  persons  suffering
      from (i) blindness or low vision, (ii) hearing  impairment  and  (iii)
      locomotor disability or cerebral palsy in  the  posts  identified  for
      each disability.


      3. EXEMPTION FROM RESERVATION: 
      If any  Department/Ministry  considers  it  necessary  to  exempt  any
      establishment partly or fully from the provisions of  reservation  for
      persons with disabilities of which one percent each shall be  reserved
      for persons suffering from (i) blindness or low vision,  (ii)  hearing
      impairment and (iii) locomotor disability or  cerebral  palsy  in  the
      posts identified for each disability, it may make a reference  to  the
      Ministry of Social Justice and Employment  giving  full  justification
      for the proposal. The grant of exemption shall  be  considered  by  an
      Inter-Departmental Committee set up by the Ministry of Social  Justice
      and Empowerment.
      4. IDENTIFICATION OF JOBS/POSTS: 
      The Ministry of Social Justice and  Empowerment  have  identified  the
      jobs/posts suitable to be held by persons with  disabilities  and  the
      physical requirement for all such jobs/posts vide  their  notification
      no. 16-25/99.NII dated 31.5.2001. The jobs/posts given in Annexure  II
      of the said notification as amended from time to time shall be used to
      give  effect  to  3  per  cent  reservation  to   the   persons   with
      disabilities. It may, however, be noted that:
      (a)   The nomenclature used for any job/post shall  mean  and  include
      nomenclature used for other  comparable  jobs/posts  having  identical
      functions.
      (b)   The list of  jobs/posts  notified  by  the  Ministry  of  Social
      Justice   &   Empowerment   is   not   exhaustive.    The    concerned
      Ministries/Departments  shall  have   the   discretion   to   identify
      jobs/posts in addition to the jobs/posts  already  identified  by  the
      Ministry   of   Social   Justice   &    Empowerment.    However,    no
      Ministry/Department/Establishment   shall   exclude   any   identified
      job/post from the purview of reservation at its own discretion.
      (c)   If a  job/post  identified  for  persons  with  disabilities  is
      shifted from one group or grade to  another  group  or  grade  due  to
      change in the  pay-scale  or  otherwise,  the  job/post  shall  remain
      identified.
      13. COMPUTATION OF RESERVATION:
      Reservation for persons with disabilities in case of Group C and Group
      D posts shall be computed on the basis of total  number  of  vacancies
      occurring in all Group C or Group D posts, as the case may be, in  the
      establishment,  although  the  recruitment   of   the   persons   with
      disabilities would only be in the posts identified suitable for  them.
      The  number  of  vacancies  to  be  reserved  for  the  persons   with
      disabilities in case of direct recruitment to  Group  C  posts  in  an
      establishment shall be computed  by  taking  into  account  the  total
      number of vacancies arising in Group  C  posts  for  being  filled  by
      direct recruitment in a recruitment year both in  the  identified  and
      non-identified posts under the establishment. The same procedure shall
      apply for Group D posts. Similarly, all vacancies in  promotion  quota
      shall be taken into account while computing reservation  in  promotion
      in Group C and  Group  D  posts.   Since  reservation  is  limited  to
      identified posts only and number of vacancies reserved is computed  on
      the  basis  of  total  vacancies  (in  identified  posts  as  well  as
      unidentified posts), it is possible that number of  persons  appointed
      by reservation in an identified posts may exceed 3 percent.
      14. Reservation for persons with disabilities in Group A  posts  shall
      be computed on the basis of vacancies occurring in direct  recruitment
      quota in all the identified Group A posts in  the  establishment.  The
      same method of computation applies for Group B posts.
      15. EFFECTING RESERVATION - MAINTENANCE OF ROSTERS:
      (a) all establishments shall maintain separate 100  point  reservation
      roster  registers  in  the   format   given   in   Annexure   II   for
      determining/effecting reservation for the  disabled  -  one  each  for
      Group A posts filled by direct recruitment, Group B  posts  filled  by
      direct recruitment, Group C posts filled by direct recruitment,  Group
      C  posts  filled  by  promotion,  Group  D  posts  filled  by   direct
      recruitment and Group D posts filled by promotion.
      (b) Each register shall have cycles of 100 points and  each  cycle  of
      100  points  shall  be  divided  into  three  blocks,  comprising  the
      following points :
      1st Block - point No.1 to point No.33
      2nd Block - point No.34 to point No.66
      3rd Block - point No.67 to point No.100
      (c) Points 1, 34, and 67 of the roster shall be earmarked reserved for
      persons with disabilities - one point for each of the three categories
      of disabilities. The  head  of  the  establishment  shall  decide  the
      categories of disabilities for which the points 1, 34 and 67  will  be
      reserved keeping in view all relevant facts.
      (d) All the vacancies in Group C posts falling in  direct  recruitment
      quota arising in the establishment shall be entered  in  the  relevant
      roster register. If the post falling at point No.1 is  not  identified
      for the disabled  or  the  head  of  the  establishment  considers  it
      desirable not to fill up by a disabled person or it is not possible to
      fill up that post by the disabled for any other  person,  one  of  the
      vacancies falling at any of the points from 2 to 33 shall  be  treated
      as reserved for the disabled and filled as such.  Likewise  a  vacancy
      falling at any of the points from 34 to 66 or from 67 to 100 shall  be
      filled by the disabled. The purpose of keeping points 1, 34 and 67  as
      reserved is to fill up the first available suitable vacancy from 1  to
      33, first available suitable vacancy from 34 to 66 and first available
      suitable vacancy from 67 to 100 persons with disabilities.
      (e) There is a possibility that none of the vacancies from 1 to 33  is
      suitable for any category of the disabled. In that case two  vacancies
      from  34  to  66  shall  be  filled  as  reserved  for  persons   with
      disabilities. If the vacancies from 34 to 66 are also not suitable for
      any category, three vacancies shall be filled  as  reserved  from  the
      third block containing points from 67 to 100. This means  that  if  no
      vacancy can be reserved in a particular block,  it  shall  be  carried
      into the next block.
      (f) After all the 100 points of the roster are covered, a fresh  cycle
      of 100 points shall start.
      (g) If the number of vacancies in a year is such as to cover only  one
      block or two, discretion as to which category of the  disabled  should
      be accommodated first shall vest in the head of the establishment, who
      shall decide on the basis of the nature of  the  post,  the  level  of
      representation of the specific  disabled  category  in  the  concerned
      grade/post etc.
      (h) A separate roster shall be maintained for Group C posts filled  by
      promotion and procedure as  explained  above  shall  be  followed  for
      giving reservation to persons with disabilities. Likewise two separate
      rosters shall be maintained for Group  D  posts,  one  for  the  posts
      filled  by  direct  recruitment  and  another  for  posts  filled   by
      promotion.
      (i) Reservation in Group A and Group B  posts  is  determined  on  the
      basis of vacancies in the identified posts only. Separate rosters  for
      Group A posts  and  Group  B  posts  in  the  establishment  shall  be
      maintained. In the rosters maintained for Group A and Group  B  posts,
      all vacancies of direct recruitment arising in identified posts  shall
      be entered and reservation shall be effected the same way as explained
      above.
      16. INTER SE EXCHANGE AND CARRY FORWARD  OF  RESERVATION  IN  CASE  OF
      DIRECT RECRUITMENT
      (a) Reservation for each of  the  three  categories  of  persons  with
      disabilities shall be made separately. But if the nature of  vacancies
      in an establishment is such that a person of a  specific  category  of
      disability cannot be employed, the vacancies may be interchanged among
      the three categories with the  approval  of  the  Ministry  of  Social
      Justice  and  Empowerment  and  reservation  may  be  determined   and
      vacancies filled accordingly.
      (b) If any vacancy reserved for any category of disability  cannot  be
      filled  due  to  non-availability  of  a  suitable  person  with  that
      disability or, for any other sufficient reason, such vacancy shall not
      be filled and shall be carried forward as a 'backlog reserved vacancy'
      to the subsequent recruitment year.
      (c) In the subsequent recruitment year the  backlog  reserved  vacancy
      shall be treated as reserved for the category of disability for  which
      it was kept reserved in the initial year of recruitment. However, if a
      suitable person with that disability  is  not  available,  it  may  be
      filled by interchange among the three categories of  disabilities.  In
      case no suitable person with disability is available  for  filling  up
      the post in the subsequent year also, the employer  may  fill  up  the
      vacancy  by  appointment  of  a  person  other  than  a  person   with
      disability. If the vacancy is filled by a person  with  disability  of
      the category for which it  was  reserved  or  by  a  person  of  other
      category  of  disability  by  inter  se  exchange  in  the  subsequent
      recruitment  year,  it  will  be  treated  to  have  been  filled   by
      reservation. But if the vacancy is filled by a  person  other  than  a
      person with disability in the subsequent recruitment year, reservation
      shall be carried forward for a further  period  upto  two  recruitment
      years whereafter the reservation shall lapse. In these two  subsequent
      years, if situation so  arises,  the  procedure  for  filling  up  the
      reserved vacancy shall be the same as followed in the first subsequent
      recruitment year.
      19. HORIZONTALITY OF RESERVATION FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES:
      Reservation for backward classes of citizens (SCs, STs  and  OBCs)  is
      called vertical reservation and the reservation for categories such as
      persons with disabilities and  ex-  servicemen  is  called  horizontal
      reservation. Horizontal reservation cuts across  vertical  reservation
      (in what is  called  interlocking  reservation)  and  person  selected
      against the quota for persons with disabilities have to be  placed  in
      the appropriate category viz. SC/ST/OBC/General  candidates  depending
      upon the category to  which  they  belong  in  the  roster  meant  for
      reservation of SCs/STs/OBCs. To illustrate, if in a given  year  there
      are two vacancies reserved for the persons with disabilities  and  out
      of two persons with disabilities appointed, one belongs to a Scheduled
      Caste and the other to general category then the disabled SC candidate
      shall be adjusted against the SC point in the reservation  roster  and
      the  general  candidate  against  unreserved  point  in  the  relevant
      reservation roster. In case none  of  the  vacancies  falls  on  point
      reserved for the SCs, the disabled candidate belonging to SC shall  be
      adjusted in future against the next  available  vacancy  reserved  for
      SCs.
      20. Since the persons with disabilities  have  to  be  placed  in  the
      appropriate category viz. SC/ST/OBC/ General in the roster  meant  for
      reservation of SCs/STs/OBCs, the application form for the post  should
      require the candidates applying under the quota reserved  for  persons
      with disabilities to indicate whether  they  belong  to  SC/ST/OBC  or
      General category.”


14)   Clauses 21 and 22 of the said OM enable the Government for  relaxation
in age limit as well as standard of suitability.
15)   After the OM dated 29.12.2005, based on the  representations  made  by
Respondent No. 1 herein, another OM dated  26.04.2006  came  to  be  issued.
The details and the directions contained in the said OM are as follows:
                                                 “Dated the 26th April, 2006

                              OFFICE MEMORANDUM
           Sub: Reservation for the Persons with Disabilities


           The undersigned  is  directed  to  say  that  the  Persons  with
      Disabilities (Equal  Opportunities,  Protection  of  Rights  and  Full
      Participation) Act, 1995  which  came  into  existence  on  01.01.1996
      provides for reservation for persons  with  disability  in  the  posts
      identified for three categories of disabilities namely  (i)  blindness
      or low vision, (ii) hearing impairment and (iii) locomotor  disability
      or  cerebral  palsy.  Instructions  have  also  been  issued  by  this
      Department for providing reservation for such persons. In spite of the
      Act and the  instructions  of  this  Department,  vacancies  were  not
      earmarked  reserved  or  were  not  filled  by  reservation  in   some
      establishments.


      2. The matter has been considered carefully and it  has  been  decided
      that reservation for persons with disabilities should  be  implemented
      in right earnest and there should be no deviation from the  scheme  of
      reservation, particularly after the Act came into effect. In order  to
      achieve this objective, all  the  establishments  should  prepare  the
      reservation roster registers as provided in this Department's O.M. No.
      36035/3/2004-Estt (Res) dated 29.12.2005 starting from the  year  1996
      and reservation for persons with  disabilities  be  earmarked  as  per
      instructions contained in that OM.  If some or all  the  vacancies  so
      earmarked had not been filled by reservation and were filled  by  able
      bodied persons either for the reason that points  of  reservation  had
      not been earmarked properly at the appropriate time  or  persons  with
      disabilities did not become available, such unutilized reservation may
      be treated as having been carried forward  to  the  first  recruitment
      year occurring after issue of this O.M. and be filled as such.  If  it
      is not possible to fill up such reserved  vacancies  during  the  said
      recruitment year, reservation would be carried forward for further two
      years, whereafter it may be treated as lapsed.


      3. It has been observed that some recruiting agencies declare in their
      advertisements that blind/partially blind candidates  need  not  apply
      and  that  separate  examinations  would  be  conducted  for  visually
      handicapped candidates.  Attention  is  invited  to  para  7  of  this
      Department's O.M. No. 36035/3/2004-Estt (Res) dated  29.12.2005  which
      provides that persons with disabilities selected on  their  own  merit
      will not be adjusted against the reserved share of vacancies. It means
      that persons with disabilities who are selected  on  their  own  merit
      have to be adjusted against the unreserved vacancies  and  reservation
      has to be given in addition. If visually handicapped candidates or any
      other category of handicapped candidates are debarred from applying on
      the ground that a separate examination would be  conducted  for  them,
      chances of handicapped candidates being selected on  their  own  merit
      would be eliminated. Thus, debarring of any  category  of  handicapped
      candidates in the above manner is against the provisions contained  in
      the aforesaid O.M. It  is,  therefore,  requested  that  persons  with
      disabilities should not  be  debarred  from  applying  for  the  posts
      identified suitable for them and should  be  provided  opportunity  to
      compete for the unreserved vacancies  as  well  by  holding  a  common
      examination.


      4. Contents of  this  O.M.  may  be  brought  to  the  notice  of  all
      concerned.
                                                                        Sd/-
                                                                 (K.G.Verma)
                                     Deputy Secretary to the Govt. of India”

16)   Another OM dated 10.12.2008, issued by  the  Department  of  Personnel
and  Training,  was  also  brought  to  our  notice  whereunder   a  Special
Recruitment Drive to fill up the backlog reserved vacancies for the  persons
with disabilities was initiated.  The said OM mainly  speaks  about  filling
up of “backlog reserved vacancies”.  Relevant portion  of  the  said  OM  is
extracted hereinbelow:
                                              “Dated the 10th December, 2008

                              OFFICE MEMORANDUM


      Sub: Special  Recruitment  Drive  to  fill  up  the  backlog  reserved
      vacancies for Persons with Disabilities


            The undersigned is directed to say that this  Department's  O.M.
      No. 36035/3/2004-Estt(Res)  dated  29.12.2005  provides  that  if  any
      vacancy reserved for any category of disability cannot be  filled  due
      to non-availability of a suitable person with that disability  or  for
      any other sufficient reason, such vacancy is not filled and is carried
      forward as a 'backlog reserved vacancy' to the subsequent  recruitment
      year. In  the  subsequent  recruitment  year,  the  'backlog  reserved
      vacancy' is treated as reserved for the  category  of  disability  for
      which it was kept reserved in the  initial  year  of  recruitment  and
      filled as such. However, if a suitable person with that disability  is
      not available in the subsequent recruitment also, it may be filled  by
      interchange among the three categories of disabilities, failing  which
      by appointment of a person other than a  person  with  disability.  It
      may, thus, be seen that if a vacancy is  earmarked  reserved  for  any
      category of disability and a suitable person with that  disability  is
      not available to fill it up in the initial  year  of  recruitment,  it
      becomes a 'backlog reserved vacancy' for first subsequent  recruitment
      year.


      2.  As  per  instructions  existing  prior  to  issue  of  O.M.  dated
      29.12.2005, if in any year, suitable physically handicapped candidates
      were not available to fill up a  reserved  vacancy,  the  vacancy  was
      filled by an other category  candidate  and  reservation  was  carried
      forward for a period of upto three recruitment years. In the event  of
      non-availability of suitable persons with disabilities,  the  reserved
      vacancies were not kept unfilled.  Thus  there  was  no  provision  of
      backlog reserved vacancies  of  persons  with  disabilities  prior  to
      29.12.2005.    Nevertheless,    it    is    possible     that     some
      Ministries/Departments/ establishments might have kept some  vacancies
      earmarked reserved for the persons with disability unfilled due to non-
      availability  of  persons  with  disability.  If  there   exist   such
      vacancies, these will be treated as backlog reserved vacancies for the
      current recruitment year”

17)   By issuing such directions, the Department of Personnel  and  Training
directed all the Ministries/Departments  to  launch  a  Special  Recruitment
Drive and fixed target dates for fulfilling various stages.
Discussion:
18)   In the light of the above statutory  provisions  as  well  as  various
clauses of the OM dated 29.12.2005, let us analyze whether  the  High  Court
was justified in passing the impugned judgment.
19)   Before adverting to the rival contentions submitted by the  appellants
and the respondents, it is relevant to comprehend  the  background  and  the
objective of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,  Protection
of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
20)   India as a welfare State is committed to promote  overall  development
of its citizens including those  who  are  differently  abled  in  order  to
enable them to lead a life of dignity,  equality,  freedom  and  justice  as
mandated by the Constitution of India. The  roots  of  statutory  provisions
for ensuring equality and equalization of opportunities to  the  differently
abled citizens in our country could be traced in Part III  and  Part  IV  of
the Constitution. For the persons  with  disabilities,  the  changing  world
offers more new opportunities owing to technological  advancement,  however,
the actual limitation surfaces only when they are not  provided  with  equal
opportunities. Therefore, bringing  them  in  the  society  based  on  their
capabilities is the need of the hour.
21)   Although, the Disability Rights Movement in India commenced  way  back
in 1977, of which Respondent No. 1 herein  was  an  active  participant,  it
acquired the requisite sanction only at the launch of the Asian and  Pacific
Decade of Disabled Persons in 1993-2002, which gave a definite boost to  the
movement. The main need that emerged from the meet was for  a  comprehensive
legislation to protect the rights of  persons  with  disabilities.  In  this
light, the crucial legislation was enacted in 1995 viz.,  the  Persons  with
Disabilities  (Equal  Opportunities,   Protection   of   Rights   and   Full
Participation) Act,  1995  which  empowers  persons  with  disabilities  and
ensures protection of their rights.  The  Act,  in  addition  to  its  other
prospects, also seeks for better employment opportunities  to  persons  with
disabilities by way of reservation of posts and establishment of  a  Special
Employment Exchange for them.
22)   For the same, Section 32 of the Act stipulates for  identification  of
posts which can be reserved  for  persons  with  disabilities.   Section  33
provides for reservation of posts and Section 36 thereof  provides  that  in
case a vacancy is not filled  up  due  to  non-availability  of  a  suitable
person with disability, in any recruitment  year  such   vacancy  is  to  be
carried forward in  the  succeeding  recruitment  year.  The  difference  of
opinion between the appellants and the respondents arises on  the  point  of
interpretation of these sections.
23)   It is the stand of the Union of India that the Act provides  for  only
3% reservation in the vacancies in the posts  identified  for  the  disabled
persons and not on the total cadre strength  of  the  establishment  whereas
Mr. S.K.  Rungta,  learned  senior  counsel     (R-1)  appearing  in  person
submitted that accepting the interpretation proposed by the Union  of  India
will flout the policy of reservation encompassed under  Section  33  of  the
Act. He further submitted that the High Court  has  rightly  held  that  the
reservation of 3% for differently abled persons in conformity with  the  Act
should have to be computed on the basis of the total  strength  of  a  cadre
and not just on the basis of the vacancies available in the posts  that  are
identified for differently abled persons, thereby declaring certain  clauses
of the OM dated 29.12.2005 as unacceptable and contrary to  the  mandate  of
Section 33 of the Act.
24) Two aspects of the impugned judgment have been  challenged  before  this
Court:-

(a)   The manner of computing  3%  reservation  for  the  persons  with  the
      disabilities as per Section 33 of the Act.


(b)   Whether post based reservation must be adhered  to  or  vacancy  based
      reservation.


25)   Now  let  us  consider  the  reasoning  of  the  High  Court  and  the
submissions made by the parties.


26)   Primarily, we would like to clarify that there is a sea of  difference
in computing reservation on the basis of total cadre  strength  and  on  the
basis of total vacancies (both inclusive of identified and unidentified)  in
the cadre strength. At the outset, a reference  to  the  impugned  OM  dated
29.12.2005 would,  in  unequivocal  terms,  establish  that  the  matter  in
dispute in the given case is whether the latter  method  of  computation  of
reservation will uniformly apply to the posts in Group A,  B,  C  and  D  or
will it be applicable only to Group C and  D.  The  question  pertaining  to
computation of reservation on the basis of total  cadre  strength  does  not
even arise in the given circumstance of the case. However, the  High  Court,
in the impugned judgment, went on to uphold the view  that  the  computation
of reservation must be on  the  basis  of  total  cadre  strength  which  is
clearly erroneous on the face of it. Inadvertently, the  respondents  herein
have also adopted the same line  of  argument  in  their  oral  and  written
submissions. As a result, the point for consideration before this  Court  is
whether the modus of computation  of  reservation  on  the  basis  of  total
number of vacancies (both inclusive of identified and unidentified)  in  the
cadre strength will uniformly apply to Group A, B, C and D  or  will  it  be
applicable only to Group C and D.


27) It is the stand of the Union of India that for  vivid  understanding  of
the reservation policy laid  down  under  Section  33  of  the  Act,  it  is
essential to read together Sections 32 and  33  of  the  Act.  It  was  also
submitted that a conjoint reading of the above referred  sections,  mandates
only reservation of vacancies in the identified posts and  not  in  all  the
posts or against the total  number  of  vacancies  in  the  cadre  strength.
However, it was also admitted that the computation of reservation  is  being
done in respect of Group C and D posts on  the  basis  of  total  number  of
vacancies (both inclusive of  identified  and  unidentified)  in  the  cadre
strength since 1977.
In fact, the abovesaid contention has  been  raised  in
Govt. of India through Secretary and Anr. vs.  Ravi  Prakash  Gupta  &  Anr.
(2010) 7 SCC 626 and, therefore, it is no longer res integra.


28)   The question for determination raised in  this  case  is
whether  the
reservation provided for the disabled persons under Section 33  of  the  Act
is dependent upon the identification of posts as stipulated by  Section  32.
In the aforementioned case, the Government of India sought to  contend  that
since they have conducted the exercise of identification of posts  in  civil
services in terms of Section 32 only in the year 2005, the  reservation  has
to be computed and applied only with reference to the  vacancies  filled  up
from 2005 onwards and not from 1996 when  the  Act  came  into  force.  This
Court, after examining the inter-dependence of  Sections  32  and  33  viz.,
identification of  posts  and  the  scheme  of  reservation,  rejected  this
contention and held as follows:-


      “25. …..The submission made on behalf of the Union of India  regarding
      the implementation of the provisions of Section 33 of the Disabilities
      Act, 1995, only  after  identification  of  posts  suitable  for  such
      appointment, under Section 32 thereof, runs counter to the legislative
      intent with which the Act was enacted. To  accept  such  a  submission
      would amount to accepting a situation where the provisions of  Section
      33 of the  aforesaid  Act  could  be  kept  deferred  indefinitely  by
      bureaucratic inaction. Such a stand taken by  the  petitioners  before
      the High Court was rightly rejected. Accordingly, the submission  made
      on behalf of the Union of India that identification of Grade  `A'  and
      `B' posts in the I.A.S. was undertaken after the year 2005 is  not  of
      much substance.


      26.  As has been pointed out by the High Court, neither Section 32 nor
      Section 33 of the aforesaid Act makes any distinction with  regard  to
      Groups A, B, C and D posts. They  only  speak  of  identification  and
      reservation of posts for people with disabilities, though the  proviso
      to Section 33 does empower the appropriate Government  to  exempt  any
      establishment from the provisions of the said Section,  having  regard
      to the type of work carried on in any department or establishment.  No
      such exemption has been pleaded or brought to our notice on behalf  of
      the petitioners.


      27.  It is only logical  that,  as  provided  in  Section  32  of  the
      aforesaid Act, posts have to be identified  for  reservation  for  the
      purposes of Section 33,  but  such  identification  was  meant  to  be
      simultaneously undertaken with the coming into operation of  the  Act,
      to give effect to the provisions of Section 33. The legislature  never
      intended the provisions of Section 32 of the Act to be used as a  tool
      to deny the benefits of Section 33 to  these  categories  of  disabled
      persons indicated therein. Such a submission strikes at the foundation
      of the provisions relating to  the  duty  cast  upon  the  appropriate
      Government   to   make   appointments    in    every    establishment.




      29. While it cannot be denied that unless posts are identified for the
      purposes of Section 33 of the aforesaid Act, no appointments from  the
      reserved categories contained therein can be made, and  that  to  such
      extent the provisions of Section 33 are dependent on Section 32 of the
      Act, as  submitted  by  the  learned  ASG,  but  the  extent  of  such
      dependence would be for the purpose of making appointments and not for
      the purpose of making reservation. In other words,  reservation  under
      Section 33 of the Act is not dependent on identification, as urged  on
      behalf of the Union of India, though a duty has  been  cast  upon  the
      appropriate Government to make appointments in  the  number  of  posts
      reserved for the three categories mentioned in Section 33 of  the  Act
      in respect of  persons  suffering  from  the  disabilities  spelt  out
      therein. In fact, a situation has also been noticed where  on  account
      of non-availability of candidates some of  the  reserved  posts  could
      remain vacant  in  a  given  year.  For  meeting  such  eventualities,
      provision was made to carry forward such vacancies for two years after
      which they would lapse. Since in the instant case such a situation did
      not arise and  posts  were  not  reserved  under  Section  33  of  the
      Disabilities Act, 1995, the question of carrying forward of  vacancies
      or lapse thereof, does not arise.


      31. We, therefore, see no reason to interfere with the judgment of the
      High  Court  impugned  in  the  Special  Leave  Petition   which   is,
      accordingly, dismissed with costs. All interim orders are vacated. The
      petitioners are given eight weeks' time from today to give  effect  to
      the directions of the High Court.”


29)   In the light of the above pronouncement, it is clear  that  the  scope
of identification comes into picture only at the time of  appointment  of  a
person in the post identified for disabled persons and  is  not  necessarily
relevant at the time of computing 3% reservation under  Section  33  of  the
Act.
In succinct, it was held in Ravi Prakash Gupta (supra) that Section  32
of the Act is not a precondition for computation of reservation of 3%  under
Section 33 of the Act rather Section 32 is the following effect  of  Section
33.


30)   Apart from the reasoning of this Court in Ravi Prakash Gupta  (supra),
even a reading of  Section  33,  at  the  outset,  establishes  vividly  the
intention of the legislature viz., reservation of 3% for  differently  abled
persons should have to be computed on the basis of total  vacancies  in  the
strength of a cadre and not just on the basis of the vacancies available  in
the identified posts. There is no ambiguity in the language  of  Section  33
and from the construction of the said statutory provision only  one  meaning
is possible.


31)   A perusal of Section 33 of the Act reveals that this section has  been
divided into three parts. The first part is  “every  appropriate  Government
shall appoint in every establishment such percentage of vacancies  not  less
than 3% for persons or class of persons  with  disability.”  It  is  evident
from this part that it mandates every appropriate Government  shall  appoint
a  minimum  of  3%  vacancies  in  its  establishments  for   persons   with
disabilities. In this light, the contention  of  the  Union  of  India  that
reservation in terms of Section 33 has to  be  computed  against  identified
posts only is not tenable by any method of interpretation of  this  part  of
the Section.


32)   The second part of this section starts  as  follows:  “…of  which  one
percent each shall be reserved for persons suffering from blindness  or  low
vision, hearing impairment & locomotor disability or cerebral palsy  in  the
posts identified for each disability.” From the above, it is clear  that  it
deals  with  distribution  of  3%  posts  in  every  establishment  among  3
categories of disabilities. It starts from the word  “of  which”.  The  word
“of which” has to relate to appointing not less  than  3%  vacancies  in  an
establishment and, in any way, it does not refer to  the  identified  posts.
In fact, the contention of the Union of India is sought to be  justified  by
bringing  the  last  portion  of  the  second  part  of  the  section   viz.
“….identified posts” in this very first part which deals with the  statutory
obligation imposed upon the appropriate  Government  to  “appoint  not  less
than 3% vacancies for the persons or class of  persons  with  disabilities.”
In our considered view, it is not plausible  in  the  light  of  established
rules of interpretation. The minimum  level  of  representation  of  persons
with disabilities has been provided in this very first part and  the  second
part deals with the distribution of this 3% among the  three  categories  of
disabilities. Further, in the last portion of  the  second  part  the  words
used are  “in  the  identified  posts  for  each  disability”  and  not  “of
identified posts”. This can only mean that out of minimum  3%  of  vacancies
of posts in the establishments 1% each has to be given  to  each  of  the  3
categories of disability viz., blind and low vision,  hearing  impaired  and
locomotor  disabled  or  cerebral  palsy  separately  and  the   number   of
appointments equivalent to the 1% for each disability out of  total  3%  has
to be made against the vacancies in the identified  posts.  The  attempt  to
read identified posts in the first part itself and also to read the same  to
have  any  relation  with  the  computation  of  reservation  is  completely
misconceived.


33) The third  part  of  the  Section  is  the  proviso  which  reads  thus:
“Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type  of
work carried on in any department or establishment, by notification  subject
to such conditions, if any,  as  may  be  specified  in  such  notification,
exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section.”  The  proviso
also justifies  the  above  said  interpretation  that  the  computation  of
reservation has to be against  the  total  number  vacancies  in  the  cadre
strength and not against the identified posts. Had the legislature  intended
to mandate for computation  of  reservation  against  the  identified  posts
only, there was no need for inserting the proviso to Section which  empowers
the appropriate Government to exempt  any  establishment  either  partly  or
fully from the purview of the Section subject to such  conditions  contained
in the notification to be issued in the Official  Gazette  in  this  behalf.
Certainly, the legislature did not intend to give such arbitrary  power  for
exemption from reservation for persons with disabilities to be exercised  by
the appropriate Government when the  computation  is  intended  to  be  made
against the identified posts.


34)   In this regard, another provision of the said Act also  supports  this
interpretation.  Section  41  of  the  said  Act  mandates  the  appropriate
Government to frame incentive schemes for employers with a  view  to  ensure
that 5% of their work force is composed of persons  with  disabilities.  The
said section is reproduced hereinbelow:


      “41.  Incentives to employers to ensure five  per  cent  of  the  work
      force is composed of  persons  with  disabilities.-   The  appropriate
      Government and the local authorities shall,  within  limits  to  their
      economic capacity and development,  provide  incentives  to  employers
      both in public and private  sectors  to  ensure  that  at  least  five
      percent of their work force is composed of persons with disabilities.”


Thus, on a conjoint reading of Sections 33 and 41, it is  clear  that  while
Section 33 provides for a minimum level  of  representation  of  3%  in  the
establishments  of  appropriate  Government,  the  legislature  intended  to
ensure 5% of representation in the entire work force both in public as  well
as private sector.


35)   Moreover, the intention of the legislature while framing the  Act  can
also be inferred from the Draft Rights of Persons  with  Disabilities  Bill,
2012, which is pending in the Parliament for approval. In Chapter 6  of  the
Bill, viz., Special Provisions  for  Persons  with  Benchmark  Disabilities,
similar sections like Sections 32 & 33 in the  Act  have  been  incorporated
under Sections 38 and 39 which are as under:-

      “Section 38. Identification of Posts which can be Reserved for Persons
      with Benchmark Disabilities:


      Appropriate Governments shall – (a) identify posts  in  establishments
      under them which can be reserved for persons with benchmark disability
      as mentioned in section 39;
      (b) at periodical intervals not  exceeding  three  years,  review  and
      revise  the  list  of  identified  posts,  taking  into  consideration
      developments in technology.


      Section  39.  Reservation  of  Posts  for   Persons   with   Benchmark
      Disabilities:-


     (1) Every appropriate Government shall reserve, in every establishment
     under them, not less than 5% of the vacancies meant to  be  filled  by
     direct recruitment, for persons or class  of  persons  with  benchmark
     disability, of which 1% each  shall  be  of  all  posts  reserved  for
     persons with following disabilities:-



        i) blindness  &  low  vision  (with  reservation  of  0.5%  of  the
           vacancies for each of the two disabilities).


       ii) hearing impairment & speech impairment.


      iii) locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured and
           muscular dystrophy.


       iv) autism, intellectual disability and mental illness


        v) multiple disabilities from among i to iv  above  including  deaf
           blindness



     Provided that the appropriate Government may,  having  regard  to  the
     type of work  carried  on  in  any  department  or  establishment,  by
     notification subject to such conditions, if any, as may  be  specified
     in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions  of
     this section.


     (2)  If  sufficient  number  of  qualified  persons   with   benchmark
     disabilities  are  not  available  in  a  particular  year,  then  the
     reservation may be carried forward for upto the next three recruitment
     years, and if in such succeeding recruitment  years  also  a  suitable
     person with benchmark disability is not available, then  the  post  in
     the  fourth  year  may  be  first  filled  by  interchange  among  the
     categories of disabilities; and only when there is no person with  any
     benchmark disability available for the post in that year, the  vacancy
     may be filled by appointment of a person, other  than  a  person  with
     benchmark disability.”

A perusal of Sections 38 and 39 of the Bill clarifies  all  the  ambiguities
raised in this appeal.  The intention  of  the  legislature  is  clearly  to
reserve in every establishment under the appropriate  Government,  not  less
than 3%  of  the  vacancies  for  the  persons  or  class  of  persons  with
disability, of which 1% each shall be reserved for  persons  suffering  from
blindness or low vision, hearing  impairment  and  locomotor  disability  or
cerebral palsy in the posts identified for each disability.


36)   Admittedly, the Act is a social legislation enacted  for  the  benefit
of persons with disabilities and  its  provisions  must  be  interpreted  in
order  to  fulfill  its  objective.   Besides,  it  is  a  settled  rule  of
interpretation  that  if  the  language  of   a   statutory   provision   is
unambiguous, it has to be interpreted according to the plain meaning of  the
said statutory provision. In the present case,  the  plain  and  unambiguous
meaning of Section 33 is that every appropriate Government has to appoint  a
minimum of 3% vacancies in an establishment out of which 1%  each  shall  be
reserved for persons  suffering  from  blindness  and  low  vision,  persons
suffering from hearing impairment and persons suffering  from  locomotor  or
cerebral palsy.


37)   To illustrate,  if  there  are  100  vacancies  of  100  posts  in  an
establishment, the concerned establishment will have to  reserve  a  minimum
of 3% for persons with disabilities out of which  at  least  1%  has  to  be
reserved  separately  for  each  of  the  following  disabilities:   persons
suffering from blindness or  low  vision,  persons  suffering  from  hearing
impairment and the persons suffering from locomotor disability  or  cerebral
palsy. Appointment of 1 blind person against 1 vacancy reserved for  him/her
will be made against a vacancy in an identified post for instance, the  post
of peon, which is identified for him in  group  D.  Similarly,  one  hearing
impaired will be appointed against one reserved vacancy  for  that  category
in the post of store  attendant  in  group  D  post.
 Likewise,  one  person
suffering from locomotor disability or  cerebral  palsy  will  be  appointed
against the post of “Farash” group D post identified for  that  category  of
disability. It was argued on behalf of Union of India with reference to  the
post of driver that since the said post is not suitable to be  manned  by  a
person suffering from blindness, the above  interpretation  of  the  Section
would be against the administrative exigencies. Such an argument  is  wholly
misconceived.  A given post may  not  be  identified  as  suitable  for  one
category of disability,  the  same  could  be  identified  as  suitable  for
another category or categories of disability  entitled  to  the  benefit  of
reservation. In fact, the second part of  the  Section  has  clarified  this
situation by providing that the number of vacancies  equivalent  to  1%  for
each of the aforementioned  three  categories  will  be  filled  up  by  the
respective category by using vacancies in identified posts for each of  them
for the purposes of appointment.


38)   It has also been submitted on behalf of  the  appellants  herein  that
since reservation of persons with disabilities in Group C and D has been  in
force prior to the enactment and is being made against the total  number  of
vacancies in the cadre strength according to the  OM  dated  29.12.2005  but
the actual import of Section 33 is  that  it  has  to  be  computed  against
identified posts only. This argument  is  also  completely  misconceived  in
view of the plain language of the said Section, as deliberated above.  Even,
for the sake of arguments, if we accept that the computation of  reservation
in respect of Group C and D posts is against  the  total  vacancies  in  the
cadre strength because of the applicability of the scheme of reservation  in
Group C and D posts prior to enactment, Section 33 does not distinguish  the
manner of computation of reservation between Group A and B posts or Group  C
and D posts  respectively.  As  such,  one  statutory  provision  cannot  be
interpreted and applied differently for the same subject matter.


39)   Further, if we accept the interpretation contended by  the  appellants
that computation of reservation has  to  be  against  the  identified  posts
only, it would result into uncertainty of the application of the  scheme  of
reservation because experience has shown that identification has never  been
uniform between the Centre and States and even between  the  Departments  of
any Government. For example, while a post of middle school teacher has  been
notified as identified as suitable for the  blind  and  low  vision  by  the
Central Government, it has not been identified as  suitable  for  the  blind
and low vision in some States such as Gujarat and J&K etc. This has  led  to
a series of litigations which have been pending in various High  Courts.  In
addition, Para 4 of the OM  dated  29.12.2005  dealing  with  the  issue  of
identification of jobs/posts in sub clause  (b)  states  that  list  of  the
jobs/posts notified by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment  is  not
exhaustive which further makes the computation of reservation uncertain  and
arbitrary in the event  of  acceptance  of  the  contention  raised  by  the
appellants.


40)   Another contention raised by the appellants is  that  the  computation
of reservation against the total vacancies in the cadre strength in Group  A
& B will violate the rule of 50% ceiling of reservation in favour of SC,  ST
and OBC as laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of  India  and
others AIR 1993 SC 477. This contention is also not tenable and  is  against
the abovesaid judgment.  It  is  difficult  to  understand  as  to  how  the
computation of reservation against total vacancies in the cadre strength  in
Group A and B will violate 50% ceiling when its computation  on  that  basis
in Group C and D will not violate the said ceiling. There  is  no  rationale
of distinguishing between the manner  of  computation  of  reservation  with
regard to Group A and B posts on the one hand and manner of  computation  of
reservation with regard to Group C and D posts on the other on this ground.


41)   A perusal of Indra Sawhney (supra) would reveal that  the  ceiling  of
50% reservation applies only to reservation  in  favour  of  other  Backward
classes under Article  16(4)  of  the  Constitution  of  India  whereas  the
reservation in favour of persons with disabilities is horizontal,  which  is
under Article 16(1) of the Constitution. In fact, this  Court  in  the  said
pronouncement has used the example of 3% reservation in  favour  of  persons
with disabilities while dealing with the rule of 50%  ceiling.  Para  95  of
the judgment clearly brings out that  after  selection  and  appointment  of
candidates under reservation for persons  with  disabilities  they  will  be
placed in the respective rosters  of  reserved  category  or  open  category
respectively on the basis of the category to which they  belong  and,  thus,
the reservation for persons with disabilities per se has nothing to do  with
the ceiling of 50%. Para 95 is reproduced as follows:-


      “95. ……all reservations are not of the  same  nature.  There  are  two
      types of reservations, which may, for  the  sake  of  convenience,  be
      referred to as 'vertical reservations' and 'horizontal  reservations'.
      The reservations in favour of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled  Tribes  and
      other backward classes [under Article 16(4)] may  be  called  vertical
      reservations whereas reservations in favour of physically  handicapped
      [under Clause (1) of Article 16] can  be  referred  to  as  horizontal
      reservations.  Horizontal  reservations  cut   across   the   vertical
      reservations - what is called inter-locking reservations. To  be  more
      precise, suppose 3%  of  the  vacancies  are  reserved  in  favour  of
      physically handicapped persons; this would be a reservation  relatable
      to Clause (1) of Article 16. The persons selected against  this  quota
      will be placed in the appropriate category;  if  he  belongs  to  S.C.
      category  he  will  be  placed  in  that  quota  by  making  necessary
      adjustments; similarly, if  he  belongs  to  open  competition  (O.C.)
      category, he will be placed  in  that  category  by  making  necessary
      adjustments. Even after providing for these  horizontal  reservations,
      the percentage of reservations in favour of backward class of citizens
      remains - and should remain - the same……”


42) Yet another contention raised by the appellants is that the  reservation
for persons with disabilities must  be  vacancy  based  reservation  whereas
Respondent No. 1 herein contended that it must be post based reservation  as
laid down by the High Court in  the  impugned  judgment.  Respondent  No.  1
herein relied upon the heading of Section 33 of the Act, viz.,  ‘Reservation
of Posts’, to propose the view  that  the  reservation  policy  contemplated
under Section 33 is post based reservation.


43)   It is settled law that while interpreting any provision of  a  statute
the plain meaning has to be given effect and if language therein  is  simple
and unambiguous, there is no need to traverse beyond  the  same.   Likewise,
if the language of the relevant section gives a simple meaning and  message,
it should be interpreted in such a way and there is  no  need  to  give  any
weightage to headings of those paragraphs.  This aspect has  been  clarified
in Prakash Nath Khanna & Anr. vs. Commissioner of Income Tax & Anr.,  (2004)
9 SCC 686.  Paragraph 13 of the said judgment is  relevant  which  reads  as
under:

      “13. It is a well-settled principle in law that the court cannot  read
      anything into a statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous.  A
      statute is an edict of the legislature. The  language  employed  in  a
      statute is the determinative factor of legislative intent.  The  first
      and primary  rule  of  construction  is  that  the  intention  of  the
      legislation must be found in the words used by the legislature itself.
      The question is not what may be supposed and  has  been  intended  but
      what has been said. “Statutes should be construed, not as theorems  of
      Euclid”, Judge Learned Hand said, “but words must  be  construed  with
      some imagination of the purposes which lie behind them”.  (See  Lenigh
      Valley Coal Co. v. Yensavage.  The view was  reiterated  in  Union  of
      India v. Filip Tiago De Gama of Vedem Vasco De Gama and Padma  Sundara
      Rao v. State of T.N..”

44)    It  is  clear  that  when  the  provision  is  plainly   worded   and
unambiguous, it has to be interpreted in such a  way  that  the  Court  must
avoid the danger of a prior determination of  the  meaning  of  a  provision
based on their own preconceived notions of ideological structure  or  scheme
into which the provision  to  be  interpreted  is  somewhat  fitted.   While
interpreting the provisions, the Court only interprets the  law  and  cannot
legislate it.  It is the function of the Legislature  to  amend,  modify  or
repeal it, if deemed necessary.


45)   The heading of a Section or marginal note may be relied upon to  clear
any doubt or ambiguity  in  the  interpretation  of  the  provision  and  to
discern the legislative intent.  However, when  the  Section  is  clear  and
unambiguous, there is no need to traverse beyond  those  words,  hence,  the
headings or marginal notes cannot control the meaning of  the  body  of  the
section.  Therefore, the contention of Respondent  No.  1  herein  that  the
heading of Section 33 of the Act is “Reservation of posts” will not  play  a
crucial role, when the Section is clear and unambiguous.


46)    Further,  the  respondents  heavily  relied  on  a  decision  of  the
Constitution Bench in R.K Sabharwal and  others  vs.  State  of  Punjab  and
others (1995) 2 SCC 745 to substantiate their contention. Para  6  reads  as
under:-


      “6. The  expressions  "posts"  and  "vacancies",  often  used  in  the
      executive  instructions  providing  for   reservations,   are   rather
      problematical. The word "post" means an appointment,  job,  office  or
      employment. A position to which a person is appointed. "Vacancy" means
      an unoccupied post or office. The plain meaning of the two expressions
      make it clear that there must be a 'post' in existence to  enable  the
      'vacancy' to occur. The  cadre-strength  is  always  measured  by  the
      number of posts comprising the  cadre.  Right  to  be  considered  for
      appointment can only be claimed in respect of a post in a cadre. As  a
      consequence the percentage of reservation has  to  be  worked  out  in
      relation to the number of posts, which form  the  cadre-strength.  The
      concept of 'vacancy' has no relevance in operating the  percentage  of
      reservation.”





47)   Adhering to the  decision  laid  by  the  Constitution  Bench  in  R.K
Sabharwal (supra), the High Court held as follows:-


      16. The Disabilities Act was enacted for protection of the  rights  of
      the disabled in various spheres like education,  training,  employment
      and to remove any  discrimination  against  them  in  the  sharing  of
      development benefits vis-à-vis non-disabled persons. In the  light  of
      the legislative aim it is necessary to give  purposive  interpretation
      to section 33 with a view to achieve  the  legislative  intendment  of
      attaining equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
      The fact that the vacancy-based roster is to be  maintained  does  not
      mean that 3% reservation has to be  computed  only  on  the  basis  of
      vacancy.
The difference between  the  posts  and  vacancies  has  been
      succinctly pointed out in the Supreme Court decision in  the  case  of
      R.K Sabharwal and Others vs state of Punjab and  others  AIR  1995  SC
      1371 
wherein it was held that the word “post”  means  an  appointment,
      job, office or employment, a position to which a person is  appointed.
      “Vacancy” means an unoccupied post or office. The plain meaning of the
      two expressions make it clear that there must be a ‘post’ in existence
      to enable the vacancy to occur. The cadre-strength is always  measured
      by the number of posts comprising the cadre. Right  to  be  considered
      for appointment can only be claimed in respect of a post in  a  cadre.
      As a consequence the percentage of reservation has to be worked out in
      relation to the number of posts which  from  the  cadre-strength.  The
      concept of ‘vacancy’ has no relevance in operating the  percentage  of
      reservation. Therefore, in our opinion, 3 % reservation  for  disabled
      has to be computed on the basis of total strength of  the  cadre  i.e.
      both identified as well as unidentified posts….”





48) However, the decision in R.K Sabharwal (supra) is not applicable to  the
reservation for the persons with disabilities  because  in  the  above  said
case, the point for consideration was with regard to the  implementation  of
the scheme of reservation for SC, ST & OBC, which  is  vertical  reservation
whereas reservation in favour of persons with  disabilities  is  horizontal.
We harmonize with the stand taken by  the  Union  of  India,  the  appellant
herein in this regard. Besides, the judgment in R.K  Sabharwal  (supra)  was
pronounced before  the  date  on  which  the  Act  came  into  force,  as  a
consequence, the intent of the Act must be given priority over the  decision
in the above said judgment. Thus,  in  unequivocal  terms,  the  reservation
policy stipulated in the Act is vacancy based reservation.


Conclusion:


49)   Employment is a key factor in the empowerment and inclusion of  people
with disabilities. It is an alarming reality that the  disabled  people  are
out of  job  not  because  their  disability  comes  in  the  way  of  their
functioning rather it is social and practical  barriers  that  prevent  them
from joining the workforce. As  a  result,  many  disabled  people  live  in
poverty and in deplorable conditions. They are denied the right  to  make  a
useful contribution to their own lives and to the lives  of  their  families
and community.


50)   The Union of India,  the  State  Governments  as  well  as  the  Union
Territories have a categorical obligation under the  Constitution  of  India
and under  various  International  treaties  relating  to  human  rights  in
general and treaties for disabled persons  in  particular,  to  protect  the
rights of disabled persons. Even though the Act  was  enacted  way  back  in
1995, the disabled people have failed to get required benefit until today.


51)   Thus, after thoughtful consideration, we are  of  the  view  that  the
computation of reservation for persons with disabilities has to be  computed
in case of Group  A,  B,  C  and  D  posts  in  an  identical  manner  viz.,
“computing 3%  reservation  on  total  number  of  vacancies  in  the  cadre
strength” which is the intention of the  legislature.  Accordingly,  certain
clauses in the  OM  dated  29.12.2005,  which  are  contrary  to  the  above
reasoning are struck down and we direct the appropriate Government to  issue
new Office Memorandum(s) in consistent with the decision  rendered  by  this
Court.


52)   Further, the reservation for persons with disabilities has nothing  to do with the  ceiling  of  50%  and  hence,  Indra  Sawhney  (supra)  is  not applicable with respect to the disabled persons.


53)   We also reiterate that the decision in R.K. Sabharwal (supra)  is  not applicable to the reservation for the persons with disabilities  because  in the above said case, the point for consideration  was  with  regard  to  the implementation of the scheme of reservation for  SC,  ST  &  OBC,  which  is
vertical  reservation,  whereas  reservation  in  favour  of  persons  with disabilities is horizontal.


Directions:


54)   In our opinion, in  order  to  ensure  proper  implementation  of  the
reservation policy for the disabled and  to  protect  their  rights,  it  is
necessary to issue the following directions:


(i)   We hereby direct the appellant herein to issue  an  appropriate  order
modifying the OM dated 29.12.2005 and the  subsequent  OMs  consistent  with
this Court’s Order within three months from the  date  of  passing  of  this
judgment.


(ii)  We hereby direct the “appropriate Government” to  compute  the  number
of vacancies available in all the “establishments” and further identify  the
posts for disabled persons within a period of three months  from  today  and
implement the same without default.


(iii)  The  appellant  herein  shall   issue   instructions   to   all   the
departments/public sector undertakings/Government companies  declaring  that
the  non  observance  of  the  scheme  of  reservation  for   persons   with
disabilities should be considered as  an  act  of  non-obedience  and  Nodal
Officer  in  department/public  sector  undertakings/Government   companies,
responsible for the proper strict implementation of reservation  for  person
with disabilities, be departmentally proceeded against for the default.


55)   Before parting with the  case,  we  would  like  to  place  on  record
appreciation for Mr.  S.K  Rungta,  learned  senior  counsel  for  rendering
commendable assistance to the Court.  The appeal is  disposed  of  with  the
above terms.


                             ...…………….…………………………CJI


                                 (P. SATHASIVAM)






                              .…....…………………………………J.


                              (RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI)




                              .…....…………………………………J.


                              (RANJAN GOGOI)



NEW DELHI;
OCTOBER 08, 2013.
-----------------------
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