SC Comes To The Rescue Of Disabled Student
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the National Testing Agency (NTA) to consider taking steps to rectify the injustice done to a disabled female student with dysgraphia who was not granted an additional hour of compensatory time in the NEET (UG) examination and had her answer sheet taken away forcibly.
Dysgraphia causes impaired handwriting and demonstrates inconsistent handwriting, poor spelling and spacing, transcription difficulties, and incoherence. The top court said individual injustices originating in a wrongful denial of rights and entitlements prescribed under the law cannot be sent into oblivion on the ground that these are a necessary consequence of a competitive examination.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, however, refused to grant the relief to the student, who has been diagnosed with a 40 per cent permanent disability, for holding re-examination for the NEET (UG).
“The appellant was wrongfully deprived of compensatory time of one hour while appearing for the NEET without any fault of her own, despite her entitlements as a Person with Disabilities (PwD) and a Person with Benchmark Disability (PwBD). Accordingly, the first respondent (NTA) is directed to consider what steps could be taken to rectify the injustice within a period of one week.
Further, it shall take necessary consequential measures under intimation to the DGHS,” it said. It said the steps taken by the NTA in furtherance of the court’s direction must be communicated to the Registry of this Court by filing a status report within two weeks. Justice Chandrachud, who penned the verdict said, “It is no answer for an authority bound by the dicta of law and the Constitution, to throw up its hands in despair, instead of attempting to remedy the injustice which is caused to a student. A judge cannot ignore that behind the statistics is a human face, reflecting the aspirations, joy, and tears of a student and her family”.
The bench noted the girl student has secured an All India Rank of 1721 out of 2684 candidates qualified in the PwD category and concerning Maharashtra she has secured rank 249 out of 390 candidates in the PwD category. The NTA has stated that approximately 15.4 lakh candidates appeared at the NEET (UG) 2021 on September 12, 2021, for which the result was declared on November 1, 2021, and the All India Rank was forwarded on November 9, 2021, to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to conduct counseling for admission.
The bench said for effective participation of the students with disabilities in the society, which undoubtedly is the salutary object of the legislation, the safeguards which are provided by the law must be duly enforced and any breach of entitlement must be answerable at law. “Responsibility and power without accountability are an anathema to our Constitution,” it said, adding the number of cases where such injustices take place maybe a few or more than that but it cannot be ignored that for a student who is made to suffer, the consequence is indeed serious.