Indian Supreme Court ruling strengthens government’s disability employment quota

The Supreme Court of India ruled June 30 that a national law mandating that a minimum of three percent of employees be people with disabilities applies at all levels of the central government.

In 1995, the Indian Parliament passed the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, creating the three-percent quota. Since then, however, the government has interpreted the law to only apply to lower, so-called Group C and Group D positions, as opposed to higher, Group A and B positions.

This position, heavily criticized by disability advocates for limiting growth opportunities for these employees, did not find favor at the government’s highest judicial body.

“Government of India has created an arbitrary and irrational distinction by excluding identified posts in Groups A and B from the benefit of three per cent reservation,” the Court wrote in the opinion, as reported by the Hindu.

The ruling came as the result of the petition of two employees who were denied promotion to Group A and B posts.

The decision is not the first time the Indian Supreme Court has rebuked the government for failing to follow the 1995 law. In 2013, the Court issued a three-month timetable for the central and state governments to come into compliance with the law.

“It is disheartening to note that low numbers of PWD (much below three per cent) are in government employment long years after the 1995 Act. Barriers to their entry must, therefore, be scrutinised by rigorous standards within the legal framework of the 1995 Act,” the court wrote in the decision, according to the Indian Express.