Published: 20th August 2020
Karnataka HC gives an extra hour of time, mandatory scribe to visually impaired candidates writing KPSC exams
This petition filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the KPSC was heard by the High Court bench consisting of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Ashok S Kinagi
After the National Federation of the Blind filed a petition against the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) and the State Government, the Karnataka High Court has ordered the KPSC to allot 20 minutes per hour to the visually impaired candidates during the KPSC preliminary exams that will be held on August 24. As per clause 12 of the Central Government Guidelines issued in the interest of the Person with Disabilities Act, visually impaired people or people with locomotor disabilities should be given 20 minutes extra per hour during these public exams. However, the KPSC and state government have been giving only 10 minutes per hour during prelims as well as mains. The total number of hours for these exams are three hours. The KPSC had called for applications on January 31, 2020, to appoint Gazetted Probationary Officers of Group A and B and they want to appoint a total of 106 officers from across the state.
Aside from this, the KPSC had also released a list of names of visually impaired people and allocated them three designated hospitals to get a test done between August 10 to 13 and get a disability certificate. However, the petitioner argued that in circumstances like this pandemic, it is difficult to travel to far-flung places and they need somebody to accompany when they visit these hospitals. Not just the petitioner, even the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment states that the disability certificate issued by the competent medical authority must be accepted.
Similarly, the KPSC had stated that visually impaired candidates can bring their own scribes during prelims and that the KPSC will not be able to provide the scribe. The commission had stated that they will provide scribes during the mains only. However, the High Court has instructed that the KPSC must form a panel of scribes and give an option for the candidates either to bring their scribes or provide a competent scribe from the panel itself. Even the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had mentioned in its guidelines that the candidate must have the description of opting his/her own scribe, reader, lab assistant or request the examination board for the same. In fact, the Ministry had stated that the candidate must be allowed to meet the scribe and interact with him to verify if they are suitable people or not.
According to the petitioner, a total of 1,000 people with disabilities have applied for this exam out of which 800 people are visually impaired and partially blind. Around 305 candidates are able to get their own scribe to the exams however, the remaining candidates have not opted to bring their own scribe. Though the advocate argued that it is a short notice to the government as well as KPSC to arrange for scribes in the next three days, the court said that due to this reason of not arranging for scribes, the candidates must not lose an opportunity to write the exams.