A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and A K Sikri rejected the Union government's plea to set aside a high court decision ordering that those appointed in government service through physically handicapped quota would also be entitled to reservation while getting promoted.
Arguing for the Centre, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said there were four categories of civil services and if a person had availed the reservation benefit in getting a job, it would be unfair to extend the reservation benefit yet again to him while considering him for promotion to the higher category of service.
The law provides for 3% reservation to physically challenged persons in government service. After a long adjudication process on a public interest litigation, the apex court had directed governments to implement the quota for disabled and fill the vacancies including backlog.
On October 8, 2013, the SC in a landmark order had directed the Centre and states to implement within three months an 18-year-old law mandating 3% reservation for such persons in government jobs.
The 1995 Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act came into force on February 7, 1996 providing a minimum 3% reservation in government establishments to the extent of 1% each for persons suffering from blindness or low vision; hearing impairment; and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.
The reservations will be implemented by all government departments, public sector undertakings and government companies at the Centre and states, enlarging opportunities for persons with disabilities eligible for benefits under the law.
Rejecting the AG's arguments, the bench of Justices Dattu and Sikri said, "Don't give a restrictive meaning to reservation by confining it to the appointment level. Disabled persons should be empowered to compete with normal people in promotion."
When the AG argued further against grant of reservation benefits in promotion to disabled persons, the bench cut it short by telling him that persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes got the benefit of reservation both in appointment and promotion.