November 22, 2020

RCI Flouts Reservation Policy

THE Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) under the ministry of social justice & empowerment set up under an act of parliament which is mandated to “regulate and monitor services given to persons with disability, to standardise syllabi and to maintain a Central Rehabilitation Register of all qualified professionals and personnel working in the field of Rehabilitation and Special Education” has been found to be flouting the policy with regard to  reservation in admission to various courses for the academic year 2020-21.

Certain irregularities that were brought to the notice of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) were taken up with the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities. The letter addressed to the secretary of DEPwD on November 13, sought her urgent intervention to stop injustice being done to certain candidates with disabilities who are seeking admissions to various courses run by the RCI for the academic year 2020-21.

The Rehabilitation Council of India invited applications for admissions to diploma level courses for the academic year 2020-21 through centralised online admission process. Many candidates with disabilities had applied for these courses.

However, when the National Merit List for general candidates and reserved category (SC/ST/OBC/PWD) was announced through notification No. File No. 25-15/NBER(AIOAT)/2016/RCI on November 5, 2020 such disabled candidates were in for a rude shock.

Whereas many candidates with disabilities despite securing higher percentage of marks in the 12th examinations, on the basis of which the merit list has been prepared, find their names missing from the merit list, candidates with lesser marks from the general category have been selected. 

Most institutions have only got two PWD candidates in their respective merit list, and all other candidates who had mentioned PWD in the category have not even been considered despite their percentage being much higher than the lowest from the general category (51 per cent for most courses). 

What is more surprising, however, is that merit list for DTISL (Diploma in Teaching Indian Sign Language) course, a course for which only candidates who are deaf are eligible to apply,  non-PWD candidates from the general category, who are not even eligible to apply for this course, have been selected.

Even while most candidates with disabilities may have marked themselves as PWD while filling the online applications, as per existing reservation policy, when candidates with disabilities have marks equivalent to or higher than those of candidates from the general category, such PWD candidates shall be considered as general category candidates and seats be allotted to them under the general category. Denial of such seats in the general category to PWD candidates with higher marks militates against the principles of natural justice and is in violation of laws and precedents as also against the reservation policy followed by the central  and state governments, the letter said.

It may be noted that in the Indra Sawhney v/s Union of India (1992) case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held:

“[It] is well to remember that the reservations under Article 16(4) do not operate like a communal reservation. It may well happen that some members belonging to, say, Scheduled Castes get selected in the open competition field on the basis of their own merit; they will not be counted against the quota reserved for Scheduled Castes; they will be treated as open competition candidates.”
There are various other judgements as well that lay down the legal provision very clearly – that candidates qualifying on the basis of merit will be deemed as general category candidates.

Under these circumstances, the NPRD has requested that the merit list notified by the RCI on November 5, 2020 be set aside and a fresh notification rectifying these anomalies be published.

As the admission process has started and will be closing by November 16, the NPRD requested the secretary to treat the matter with the urgency that it demands and not compel the aggrieved to resort to legal remedies.