Let me begin at the very beginning by first and foremost pointing out that in a landmark judgment with far reaching consequences, the Uttarakhand High Court in Kamal Gupta Vs State of Uttarakhand and others in Writ Petition (PIL) No. 87 of 2014 while delivering the landmark judgment on July 11, 2018 directed the state government to appoint special educators in all government aided and unaided private schools for children with special needs and the school premises and transportation is made barrier-free. This will certainly benefit the needy children a lot. There can be no denying it!
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, it must be informed here that a Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh also directed the state to take the responsibility of children with special needs whose parents are not capable of doing so and pay them a scholarship of Rs 1,000 per month. All the educational institutions throughout Uttarakhand have been directed to provide amanuensis to blind students within three months. This is truly commendable!
For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, it must be also informed here that the Uttarakhand High Court's landmark directions came on a letter petition moved by Kamal Gupta highlighting the difficulties faced by children with special needs for pursuing an education in the educational institutions throughout the state. The Bench very rightly noted in para 23 of this landmark judgment that, 'Every child with special need has a fundamental right to develop with dignity and equality. He has the right to education, health and vocational training. Children with special needs should have equal opportunities.” Very rightly said!
To be sure, para 21 of this landmark judgment points out that, 'According to Section 26 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, State Government should ensure that every child with a disability has access to free education in an appropriate environment till he attains the age of eighteen years and endeavour is to be made to promote the integration of students with disabilities in the normal schools. The endeavour should be made to equip the special schools for children with disabilities with vocational training facilities. The State Government is required to promote setting up of special schools in Government and private sector for those in need of special education, in such a manner that the children with disabilities living in any part of the country have access to such schools. The State Government is also required to frame the scheme for improvement in non-formal education for Children with special need. The State Government is required to set up the teacher training institution. The comprehensive education scheme is required to be provided facilities for supply of food to the Children with special need. It is the duty of the State Government to provide the education to all the children of the age of 6 to 14 years as per Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. The minimum educational qualification for special education teachers is laid down as per letter dated 11.01.2012 issued by Rehabilitation Council of India. The MOU has also been entered into between the National Council of Teacher Education and Rehabilitation Council of India.”
It would be imperative to mention here that after delving into various welfare provisions, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and the Fundamental Right to Education as mentioned in different paras of this landmark judgment, the Uttarakhand High Court ultimately passed the following mandatory directions: -
a. The state government is directed to appoint special educators in all the government schools for children with special needs and also to ensure that special educators are appointed in government aided and unaided private schools in the state of Uttarakhand within a period of six months.
b. All the government schools, government aided and unaided private schools in the state of Uttarakhand are directed to make building/school premises/transportation system barrier free and suitable for free movement of children with special needs.
c. The state government is directed to set up special teachers training institutions as per Section 29 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 within one year.
d. The state government is directed to look after all the children with special needs whose parents are not able to look after them. The children with special needs require special care, compassion, passion for bringing them up in order to bring them into the mainstream and also to provide monetary incentives to the parents/guardians of the children with special needs.
e. It shall be the responsibility of the state authorities to ensure that the children with special needs are imparted education in ordinary schools or special schools by releasing sufficient funds.
f. The state government is directed to construct sufficient number of hostels for children with special needs as per the specifications of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, within a period of one year in a cluster of four districts.
g. The state government is directed to provide books, uniforms and other material to children with special needs for attending the school before the commencement of academic session.
h. Children with special needs shall be paid a scholarship of Rs. 1,000 per month each.
i. Special curriculum be prepared by taking into consideration the difficulties faced by children with special needs.
j. All the educational institutions throughout the state are directed to provide amanuensis to blind students within three months from today.
In a nutshell, it can be safely said that this landmark judgment of Uttarakhand High Court delivered by Justice Rajeev Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh deserves to be implemented in totality and most swiftly. It brooks no delay of any kind on any ground whatsoever! All the educational institutions must abide by it!