The ableist society, sitting on the seat of superiority leaves no stoned unturned to patronize any class, which does not fit in their bracket of ' perfectionism'. The Government of India, sees the world through it' s myopic vision and achieves a convenient escape in never accepting the " distinguished" strength of others. Brushing these citizens aside as " disabled", they are considered a ' menace to be eliminated' . The lack of technology, infrastructure, facilities are only an excuse to steer clear of worldly dilemmas. The real obstacle according to Rahul Bajaj, is the " attitudinal barriers that continue to exist."
Rahul Bajaj, is my inspiration to write this article. The man is full of dreams, brains and aspirations. He completed his LLB from India. He interned and excelled at various fields, including working under Justice U.U.Lalit. He won the Rhodes Scholarship and paved his path to pursue Bachelors of Civil Law and Mphil. at Oxford University.
A bare description of Rahul, makes him a brilliant student, but the fact that he achieved all of this and more, with a vision of 5% makes him extraordinary. Rahul, hopes to break barriers and walk the vertiginous way, all the way to the Highest Court of Justice.
Rahul' s biggest stumbling block is the Judiciary, a dream he wishes to accomplish.
In the cases of Anmol Bhandari (minor) Through Guardian v DTU (2012) and Aryan Raj v Chandigarh Administration (2019), the Supreme Court held that, " Reservation for disabled is ' Horizontal' reservation, cutting across all categories of SC/ST/OBC/General. People suffering from disabilities are all socially backward."
Therefore, in the two cases, the Supreme Court took a progressive view and guaranteed a right to education, equality and freedom to the students, keeping in mind the struggles of everyday life faced by them.
The next Court decision that came in 2019 in the case of V.Surendra Mohan v State of Tamil Nadu, enraged and irked millions of people across India. The division bench of Justice Kurien Joseph and Ashok Bhushan, were hearing an appeal that came from Madras High Court.
In this case, the appellant was a practicing advocate, who sat for the selection for the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division). The appellant applied under the partially blind category, which allowed for selection of those who had less that 40% vision. The appellant however produced a certificate that mentioned a 70% vision loss.
An argument was forwarded on behalf of the state counsel, " Looking towards the nature of duties, like, hearing cases, recording statements of witnesses, reading documents and then deciding the matter cannot be performed by a visually impaired candidate (further explanation added)."
The division bench of the High Court stated that people with 40-50% visual impairment were eligible but not 70%.
The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court, and gave a bizarre outlook of it' s own. The Court did not see any violation of Article 14, and held that " there was a nexus between the classification and the object sought to be achieved." Further, the Court held that, " creating any reservation in the appointment for those with disabilities beyond 50% level is far from advisable as it may create practical and seemingly unavoidable complications."
They Hit A Home Run
Did the Court through it' s judgment try to hide and shield it' s own shortcomings? The answer is a definite yes!
Trailing the careers of many differently abled, leaves no scope of doubt that there is no weakness that cannot be remolded into strength.
SadhanChandra Gupta , was India' s first visually impaired parliamentarian in 1953 who went onto serve Kolkata for 7 years as an Additional Advocate General.
A lawyer' s idol, S.K.Rungta fought the legal battle for 15 million blind people in India and won it, by securing 3% reservation to all differently abled citizens in Central and State Government Jobs in 2013. He also was the first visually impaired advocate to be adorned with the tag of ' Senior Advocate' .
Justice Brahmananda Sharma was the first visually impaired civil Judge at Rajasthan. The judge is known to decide cases by hearing recordings.
Not just in India, but even Internationally, there have been successful instances of visually impaired Judicial Officers serving the ends of Justice.
Justice Yousuf Saleem in 2018 became Pakistan' s first visually impaired civil judge.
Justice David S Tatel is 100% blind, yet he served in the United States Court of Appeals, district of Columbia circuit.
Justice David Szumowski, lost his eye sight at the age of 23 in a war. He served as a Superior Court judge for 18 years.
Justice Zakeria Mohammad Yacoob, from South Africa, is a judge, who in one of his statements says that, " He takes help from an efficient legally trained Personal Assistant, a talking computer, braille printer and a note taker."
Technology is the key to cross the boundaries of imperfection and uplift the country from heaps of medieval biasness.
The judiciary and the State need to look beyond the idealistic notions of excellence and flawlessness. A realization of a person' s tenacity, resilience and vigour will help the Nation to grow and it' s people to prosper. Navigating and controlling basic freedoms and rights will only shrink India. Re-thinking and re-shaping the system of justice will flag off a new Journey for India.