The Delhi High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for not filing its reply on a PIL seeking quashing of an examination notice of the UPSC for the upcoming Civil Services Examination on the ground of non-compliance of one per cent quota for visually impaired applicants.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw also said that if the Centre fails to file its reply by August 14, then the Secretary from Department of Personnel (DoPT) and Training "will remain present before it in person".
"If no counter is filed by day after tomorrow, means on Thursday, August 14. The Secretary from Ministry of DoPT shall appear before this court in person with proper explanation," the court said. The court direction came after the counsel for the Centre expressed his inability to file the reply.
"Why counter affidavit is not filed? Who is the concerned official present here? Why it is not filed? It was a specific direction. It must have been filed by today on the basis of the records available with you. This cannot be tolerated in future," the court added.
On July 2, the high court had sought responses within four weeks from Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and DoPT on the petition filed by NGO Sambhavana, which works for disabled persons.
The UPSC on Monday submitted its reply stating that it has a "limited mandate" in conducting the civil services exams and reserving seats for physically-handicapped persons, including visually-impaired ones, in them.
"The Commission has a limited mandate to conduct the examination as per the rules notified by the government and to obtain vacancy figures from the Cadre Controlling Authorities (CCA) including those earmarked for physically handicapped (PH) categories, to collate the information and proceed accordingly with conducting the examination process," the affidavit, filed by UPSC's Under Secretary Imran Farid, had said.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking quashing of the civil services examination notice of May 31 on the ground of non-compliance of one per cent quota for visually-impaired applicants.
Shifting the onus on the CCA, the UPSC had said "the Commission obtains the vacancy figures meant for PH from the CCA of the services participating in the civil services examination and based on the information gathered, tentative indication is made in the examination notice." The NGO has also sought a direction to the Centre and UPSC for issuing a fresh vacancy notice by providing three per cent reservation for persons with disabilities to one per cent each of the categories recognised in Persons with Disabilities Act.
The plea said "issue a writ to equally bifurcate vacancies among the categories of persons with disabilities one per cent each in terms of law for different categories of disabled persons."
It also sought guidelines for providing scribes to visually-impaired persons and extra 20 minutes per hour for answering the questions.
"Issue a writ directing the Respondent No 3(Department of Personnel and Training) not to indulge in any recruitment process which has been or shall be undertaken violating the provisions under Persons with Disabilities Act 1995," the NGO, in its plea filed through lawyer Pankaj Sinha, said.
The petition said that out of 1291, only 26 vacancies were reserved for persons with different disabilities and only two vacancies for candidates with vision impairment despite having an "unequivocal and clear statutory provision" of one per cent reservation.