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Failure to appoint staff in Grant-in Aid institutions violates PWD Act, 2016: Plea in Gujarat HC
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Failure to appoint staff in Grant-in Aid institutions violates PWD Act, 2016: Plea in Gujarat HC

Meera Emmanuel

The Gujarat High Court has issued notice in pleas challenging the inaction of the Gujarat Social Justice Department in filling up vacancies in Grant-in Aid institutions established for the welfare of underprivileged and differently abled persons.

Justice Bhargav D Karia issued notice in the application yesterday. Four special civil applications on the issue have been filed before the High Court. The four petitioners in the matter are:

  • The National Adult Training Centre Trust for the Blind  which works towards vocational training and professionalizing the same for blind people.
  • The Jit Mehta Balshala Trust, which works with children with mental retardation and other additional disabilities like visual impairment and deaf blindness.
  • The Blind People’s Association (BPA), which runs welfare projects such as the Mental Hygiene Clinic, the Hostel for Blind and Disabled Women and a Hostel for Multi Disabled Girls.
  • The National Association for the Blind

Senior Advocate MR Bhatt represented the petitioners along with Advocate Munjal Bhatt and Advocate Vineeth Sheth.

The applications highlight that Grant-in Aid Code (Gujarat), 1992 provides for the maintenance of staff in Grant-in Aid institutions such as petitioners’. However, over the years, the lackadaisical approach by State authorities in filling in staff vacancies have resulted in severe staff shortages, even leading to the petitioners employing staff bearing expenses from their own pockets. As submitted by the petitioners,

Due to inaction on part of the Respondents in deciding these applications and/or not approving the suggested names, the situation as of today is that these recognized programs working towards the betterment, education, accommodation, etc. of special and disabled children/ people are suffering...

In order to salvage the situation and see to it that no impediment of whatsoever nature is caused to the projects undertaken, the Petitioner is functioning the said projects by employing its own staff and paying them out of their own pocket, thereby rendering the whole concept of 100% Grant-in Aid institution nugatory and a mere paper arrangement. The Petitioner is thus faced with an unwarranted financial burden inspite of being a Grant-in Aid Institution.

Adding to the problem, the Government also began abolishing long-vacant staff posts in these Grant-in Aid institutions, without offering any reason for the same. The petitioners contend that this has entailed in a violation of various provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act that call for the upliftment of differently abled persons. In this regard, the applications states,

The Respondents have apart from not approving these posts, have brazenly with the stroke of a pen abolished the posts which were lying vacant. No reasoning worth the name has been provided to justify as to why these posts, which are sanctioned by the Respondents themselves and are imperative for the functioning of the projects being undertaken by Petitioner are abolished ….

Due to non-appointment of adequate staff at the projects/ programs, there is direct deprecation on the education of the disabled/ special children, thereby clearly violating the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Concerns on the the issue were raised previously by BPA in December 2016 with the Government. This representation made queries concerning the abolition of posts in Grant-in Aid institutions after the implementation of the 6th pay commission and the non-approval of certain staff posts in such institutions, which remained vacant after the death or retirement of earlier staff. At this point, 115 posts were lying vacant. Since the Government had not acted to fill these vacancies, the petitions had also appointed staff bearing the expenses personally, so that the institutions would continue to function.

However, the Government went on to inform that following an April 2018 Government Order, 248 posts lying vacant prior to January 2010 stood abolished. The petitioners contend that no reasons were given for taking this decision.

With the stroke of a pen, 249 sanctioned posts with regard to Grant-in Aid institutions, some of which belong to the Petitioner, stood abolished.”

The Government Order was opposed by The National Association for the Blind in a letter dated May 1, 2018. Regardless, the petitioners stated that another Government Order was passed in August 2018. abolishing 241 more posts in Grant-In Aid institutions after the implementation of the 7th pay commission, again without any stated reason..

Moreover, in April this year, the Government informed the petitioners that of the 115 vacant posts, only 61 were being sanctioned or regularised. Registering protest over this as well, the petitioners point out,

Therefore, on one hand, the Petitioner is not granted requisite permission/ 1. approval and on the other hand the Respondents are merrily abolishing sanctioned posts or not regularizing the posts, which have been filled up by the Petitioner at their own cost.

The petitioners point out that differently abled persons stand to suffer if the Government does not act to fill in vacancies. Inter alia, it is pointed out.

The private and government schools are not equipped to handle these special children. They require special care and attention and a teacher employed at a school for normal children does not possess the necessary skill to help these special children. In such a scenario, delaying approval or abolishing the sanctioned posts in these special schools/ programs is in effect denying the right to education to these special children, which is in stark violation of the fundamental rights of the special children.

In view of these concerns, the petitioners have now approached the High Court with the following prayers, i.e.

  • That the Government authorities be directed to abide by the provisions of the  Grant-in Aid Code, 1992 and the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016;
  • That the High Court declare the abolition/non-approval of sanctioned posts in these institutions as contrary to the 1992 Code, the 2016 Act and Article 14 of the Constitution; and
  • That the Government be directed to approve the sanctioned posts in these institutes and further reimburse the costs borne by the petitioners to maintain staff in the interregnum.

Notice in the matter has been issued returnable by December 18.

[Read the Order]

Gujarat-HC-notice-order-Grant-in-Aid-institutions.pdf
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[Read the Petitions]

Gujarat-HC-Grant-Aid-Institutions-Special-Civil-Applications.pdf
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