NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment to enable persons with disabilities live with
dignity and compete with others on equal footing, the Supreme Court on February 11 2021 ruled that a person’s blindness or physical disabilities is
no disqualification for appointment as Judge. In the process, a bench
of Justices ices D Y Chandrachud,Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna
overruled a two-Judge SC bench ruling of 2019 upholding a ceiling of
40-50% visual/hearing impairment as the benchmark for a person’s
appointment as a civil judge (junior division) in Tamil Nadu and said
persons with physical disability must be given all possible
assistance, technological as also a scribe, for taking examination to
compete with a real sense of equality.
The court took exception to common societal reference to persons with
disabilities as ‘mentally ill’ or ‘divyangjan’ and said, “Our
discourse must be couched in terms that reflect the recognition of a
human rights model to viewing disability. Insensitive language offends
the human dignity of persons with disabilities.”
Referring to a UN Committee report on rights of disabled persons, the
bench said, “In its concluding observations on India, the Committee
notes with concern references to ‘normal life’ as opposed to the
lives of persons with disabilities and derogatory terminology such as
‘mentally ill’ and divyangjan’, which as it notes, remains
controversial. It is our earnest hope that the paradigm-shifting
conversation about the rights and status of the disabled, that the
Committee has generated, will find a resonance in the language we use
to refer to them.
This is a great debate we shall be having on disability sausage YouTube channel as we navigate the barriers persons with disabilities face in the bench.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”