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"It is possible that some of the 305 candidates may not be able to procure presence of scribes due to situation created by COVID-19. The first respondent as well as state government will have to take a stand on this."
For the upcoming Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) exams, the Karnataka High Court today directed the Commission and the state government to consider granting additional time of 20 minutes per hour for visually impaired students.
The Court passed this direction in a plea alleging that for the upcoming KPSC exams, the directions issued by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, were not being followed.
The preliminary KPSC examination is scheduled to be held on August 24.
The order passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi reads,
Karnataka High Court
The Court also noted,
"We are not passing any interim order as it will result postponment of examination. We, however, make it clear that the issue of legality of examination as regards visually impaired candiates will have to be kept open. Secondly, choice had been exercised by the candidates to opt for scribes way back in January. It is possible that some of the 305 candidates may not be able to procure presence of scribes due to situation created by COVID-19. The first respondent as well as state government will have to take a stand on this."
Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that around 800 visually challenged students had registered for the KPSC exams.
The Commission had directed such students to undergo an additional medical test prior to the examination without any legal basis, when they already have a disability certificate, argued Kothari.
Further, it was argued that KPSC had not made any arrangements for providing scribes, and had asked the students to come with their own scribes.
Adding on, Kothari said that the compensatory 20 minutes per hour was not being provided to these visually challenged students. This is in violation of the office memorandum issued by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, she submitted.
Counsel for KPSC, Advocate Reuben Jacob submitted that out of a total of 682 visually impaired applied, only 305 had opted for scribes. The remaining 377 had not utilized the option, clarified Jacob.
After hearing the submissions of both parties, the Court held,
"The first respondent (KPSC) will have to explain why the guidelines of Central government have not been complied with."
The Court made it clear that it is the duty and obligation of KPSC to ensure that no visually impaired person is denied the opportunity to write the exams owing to COVID-19.