Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Visually Challenged / Blind will be considered for Ktk Adm Service exams from Next Year

Barred from even applying for the KAS Examination this year by Karnataka Public Service Commission, the visually impaired / blind candidates can look for KAS exams from next year where RPSC will also compensate for the number of reservation seats that might have fallen in their kitty. 

However, this doesn't compensate the opportunity lost by those candidate who may not have even looked at the stick of reservation and wanted to compete on their own merit. Their right to equality has been infringed and there can be no compensation of loss of opportunity and loss of time. This has not been appreciated either by the Court nor by the Govt. of Karnataka.  KPSC must extend further age relaxation to such candidates in the coming year who might have become overage due to such a lapsed opportunity to mitigate at least some loss.

Here is the news coverage from Deccan Herald.

HC orders quota for visually challenged in KAS posts
Bengaluru: Nov 17, 2015, DHNS:

The High Court has disposed of a petition, directing the Karnataka Public Service Commission and the State government to incorporate three per cent reservation for persons with low vision and the visually challenged for the posts of KAS officers or group ‘A’ posts in the next appointments.

The National Federation of the Blind had approached the court challenging the KPSC notification in January 2015, which had barred visually-challenged and those with low vision from applying for the posts. However, the court had directed the government to form a committee to examine possibility of including such persons. 

KPSC later issued another notification in October 2015, including persons with low vision and visually challenged as eligible to apply for the said posts in various government departments under the three per cent quota for persons with disabilities.

KPSC had called for applications for two posts of assistant commissioner in commercial tax and finance department and one post of executive officer in the Panchayat Raj department.

Advocate Jayna Kothari, appearing for the Federation, sought a stay on the KPSC’s exams and appointments. However, the stay was not granted, KPSC exams were held and necessary appointments were made in due course. 

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna passed an order stating that as the KPSC’s exercise of appointments had already been carried out, the petitioner’s contention cannot be considered this year. 

However, the bench directed KPSC and the government to incorporate the necessary percentage for people with low vision and visually challenged in next KPSC appointments for the said posts.

Source: Deccan Herald 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Consent Decree filed to ensure Physically Accessible Polling Centres in Augusta County, Virginia


Dear Colleagues,

The US Justice Department announced today that it has filed a complaint and proposed consent decree today in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia resolving allegations that Augusta County, Virginia has discriminated on the basis of disability by failing to provide physically accessible polling places to people with mobility and vision disabilities. Title II of the ADA requires public entities to ensure that all of their polling places are accessible to people with disabilities.

Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the court, the County agreed to make permanent architectural changes to a number of polling place facilities, and to provide temporary measures such as portable ramps and temporary doorbells at others, to provide accessible polling places throughout the County. The County, which cooperated with the United States, also agreed to revise its policies and polling place survey instrument, and provide training to poll officials.

Click here to read the Consent Decree. However, it throws light that disability continues to be a subject last on the agenda of administration -some times due to lack of awareness and while other times due to lack of enforcement - both in developed as well in developing world. Glad that Deptt of Justice has taken this initiative to make Polling Process accessible to residents with Disabilities in Augusta County and also to create mechanism for monitoring and enforcement for a longer term.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Disability Pension is independent of length of service - Punjab & Haryana HC

Dear Friends,

You don't need a qualifying service to be eligible for disability pension, the P&H High Court has clarified. The Union of India’s defended that the petitioner had less than 10 years of qualifying service required under Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972 to be eligible for disability pension, which the court rejected.  

Disability pension not linked to length of service, says HC
Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30, 2015

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that disability pension has no connection with the length of service and is payable when an employee suffers from disability.

Forty years after a Border Security Force official was invalidated out from service with 100 per cent blindness, the high court also held him entitled to disability pension from the date of discharge.

The court was told that petitioner Amarjit Singh had suffered acute eyesight failure, while he was posted in high altitude area in the Ladkah sector. In December 1974, the Union of India issued a letter claiming that the petitioner was not entitled to pensionary benefits as per the Rules. Subsequently, he was invalidated out from service in February 1975. He was seeking disability pension from the date of discharge but without success.

The Union of India’s case was that the petitioner had less than 10 years of qualifying service required under Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972. Taking up the matter, the Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Raj Rahul Garg observed the question of qualifying service arose to earn pension or invalid pension on attaining the age of superannuation under the Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972.
But the writ petitioner was invalidated out from service on account of medical condition. Such discharge entitled all persons paid from civil estimates to extraordinary pension, which included disability pension.
The bench added: “We find that under the 1972 rules, invalid pension is availed by an employee if he seeks retirement on account of any bodily or mental infirmity.

The case

  • Forty years ago, BSF official was invalidated out from service with 100 per cent blindness
  • The court was told that petitioner Amarjit Singh had suffered eyesight failure, while he was posted in the Ladkah sector
  • In December 1974, the Centre issued a letter claiming that the petitioner was not entitled to pensionary benefits as per the rules


Mumbai HC cites the capabilities of Blind as Solicitors & Advocates to deny claim of tax exemption for Eye Checkup

Dear Friends,

There are two areas worth noting in this judgement. Firstly, the Mumbai High Court has indicated that Blindness is no handicap in discharging the duties of a solicitor or an advocate and by that analogy even a judge. Secondly, you may not be able to claim tax exemption for tour expenses even for reasons of an eye test in computing the income chargeable under the head profits and gains from business or profession.

Shot in arm for disability advocates who have been facing extreme resistance from some states & their judiciary who have consistently denied people with blindness the opportunities of being  a judge by obtaining exemption under section 33 of the Disabilities Act. Crazy no?

Here is the news item from TNN:

Lawyer denied tax waiver for eye test done while abroad
Shibu Thomas, TNN | Oct 30, 2015, 01.30AM IST

MUMBAI: A person's eyes are not just used exclusively for professional purposes, said Bombay high court while rejecting a lawyer's claim seeking tax exemption for a foreign tour, which he claimed was a "pre-operative eye check-up".

A division bench of Justice M S Sanklecha and Justice Girish Kulkarni pointed to blind advocates practising in courts.

"Eyes are an important organ of the human body and are essential for the efficient survival of a human being. Eyes are essential not only for the purpose of business or profession but for purposes other than these," said the judges, adding, "We are not persuaded to accept the submission that eyes are required to be exclusively used for the purpose of profession. No evidence has been brought on record to establish that in the absence of investigation and treatment, the applicant would be handicapped in discharging his obligation as a solicitor/advocate. While at this, we cannot resist but point out that in this court itself, we have a couple of visually challenged advocates who are competent in discharging their duties."

The court also cited former advocate general of West Bengal Sadhan Gupta who was visually challenged. "It is therefore clear that the said expenditure as claimed by the advocate is not in the nature of the expenditure wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of the profession of the applicant and thus this expenditure cannot be claimed by the applicant to be allowed as deduction in computing the income chargeable under the head profits and gains from business or profession."

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Dhimant Thakkar, who claimed tax exemption for the period 1986-87 of an amount of Rs 43,600 for a foreign tour, which he claimed was in connection with preoperative tests. The income-tax department rejected the claim saying the expenses were for a personal reason.

The advocate claimed that but for this treatment he would not have been able to continue with his profession and therefore the expenditure ought to have been allowed as a deduction for professional expenses. The HC disagreed and concurred with the tax department that if the advocates claims were accepted, then "every and all expenses incurred on daily living and food would be allowable as part of tax exemption".