The Kerala High Court has sought response of the Centre and the state government on a plea seeking framing of rules for children in need of special assistance in the SSLC and higher secondary exams without fixing a minimum disability percentage to avail benefits, like a scribe or amanuensis, under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act.
The high court issued notice to the two governments and sought their stand on the public interest litigation by a differently abled student who claimed that a minimum of 40 per cent disability is still the eligibility criteria in the southern state for special assistance to children who need it in the SSLC and higher secondary examinations.
The student contended that the criteria has not changed despite a 2021 order of the high court to revisit the then existing guidelines and to issue fresh ones in tune with the Supreme Court directions that grant of facilities under the Act cannot be restricted only to persons with benchmark disabilities.
The high court’s 2021 direction came while rejecting an appeal filed by the state government against a single judge decision directing it to provide the educational benefit of scribe as well as extra time to the petitioner who suffered from 25 per cent learning disability.
In his PIL, the student has also sought that the orders passed in his case be made applicable to all students in need of special assistance in SSLC as well as higher secondary examination in schools of the southern state.
The petition also seeks a declaration that the disability of the students in need of support for their SSLC as well as first and second year higher secondary exams be assessed by the authority as defined under Right of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act.
It has also sought a declaration that all the differently abled students studying in the state schools who come under the definition of person with disability under the RPwD Act are entitled for assistance in their respective exams.