Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court

The Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court has issued a 5-month deadline to the Nagaland government to fully implement the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwDs) Act, 2016 in the state.

A bench headed by Justice Songkhupchung Serto passed the judgment recently directing the state government to take appropriate action as per Section 33 and 34 of RPwDs Act, 2016 and its other provisions within five months.

It also directed to reserve one post each for extra assistant commissioner (EAC) and secretariat assistant for the visually disabled or impaired persons.

Visually impaired petitioner, Toviholi Swu, assisted by Nagaland State Legal Services Authority, had filed two writ petitions before the Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court.

In the writ petitions it was alleged that no proper identification of post and services has been made by the government in its departments and establishments for reservation for visually impaired or disabled persons.

The petitioner said in regard to various posts advertised by the Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC) on August 31, 2018, the state government did not follow the provision of the RPwD Act, 2016.

The government also allegedly did not reserve 4% of the total number of vacanct posts in the cadre strengths of each group of posts to be filled up with persons with benchmark disabilities.

The petitioner applied for the post of EAC and secretariat assistant and managed to clear the first two stages of the examination and even reached the viva round.

However, since no post has been reserved in the two services, especially for people belonging to her category of disabled persons, the petitioner filed the writ petitions questioning the advertisement and challenging the notification.

The bench in its verdict ruled: “The petitioner’s prayer is not beyond the rights or entitlement as per the Act of 2016 and as per the right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Granting of her prayer as per the provisions of the Act and the provisions of the Constitution will not infringe anybody’s right.”

Justice Serto viewed that the Nagaland government should have acted promptly and done the needful so that people belonging to disabled group enjoy the benefits of the provisions of the Act.

The government cannot play ‘hide and seek’ under the cover of the authority given to them, he said.

“The question is should the persons belonging to disable category like the petitioner in this case continue to be deprived of their rights provided under the new Act of 2016 and their rights under Article 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India..,” the judge observed.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com