Shimla: The persons with disabilities can look forward to major relief including free education and a revolutionary change in the conduct of examination for blind, deaf and those who can’t write due to disability, following the order of H.P. High Court directing the state government to examine all demands raised in the two PILs filed by Ajai Srivastava, chairman of Umang Foundation, and take action in eight weeks. The government has assured the court to consider all demands made in the petitions since all were for the benefit of the disabled.

The division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Kuldeep Singh while disposing of both the petitions on January 7, directed the government “to examine the relief sought by the petitioner in light of law applicable, rules, circulars notifications and instructions made by the central government from time to time and pass appropriate orders and directions.”

In his first petition, Ajai Srivastava had sought to implement various provisions of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 which included free education, special books & e-books educational devices, modification in syllabus for the blind and deaf, free transport facility to disabled students and barrier free environment in different modes of transport and built structure. The petitioner had also sought implementation of 3 percent reservation to disabled students in all the government educational institutions and private universities in the state.

A major demand in the petition was to quash State Government’s notification of July 1999 under which the principal secretary of social justice and empowerment was given additional charge of State Disability Commissioner and to appoint an independent disability commissioner. It was pleaded in the petition that this important post could not be filled up this way since mere being an IAS officer the incumbent did not fulfill qualification for the post as laid down in the Disability Act. Appointment of an independent commissioner was one of the main demands in the petition.

In the other petition, Ajai Srivastava demanded implementation of Examination Policy for Persons with Disabilities in the state formulated by Chief Disability Commissioner, Government of India. This policy, circulated to all States for implementation by central government and UGC last year, may bring a revolutionary change in the conduct examination for the blind, deaf and other disabled who can’t write due to disability. This is to be implemented in all academic and recruitment examinations.

It is clear in this examination policy that the blind and other disabled who can’t write, if they desire, shall be provided amanuensis (writer) or computer with talking software by the examination conducting agency to take the exam. Not only this, the policy removes all the pre- conditions for the amanuensis (writer). Now any person with any qualification can write examination of blind and other disabled person who can’t write. Such candidates will also be entitled to avail one hour extra time in an examination of three hours duration. The policy gives major relief to the deaf candidates as they are to be provided objective -type question paper since most of them are week in grammar.