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EDUCATION FOR IMPAIRED PERSONS = The appellant-organisation invoked the jurisdiction of the High Court of Delhi in WP(C) No. 2982 of 2013 for issue of a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the respondent-University to make provisions to introduce a bridge course for students with vision impairment in the first year of four years under graduate programme so that they can easily pursue the foundation course and become part of mainstream education system; issue a direction to the respondent to introduce a foundation course in the second year of the four years for under graduate programme; command the respondent to provide accessible reading materials and to make provisions for training of the teachers who will teach the students in “Mathematics” and “Science and Life” in the four years under graduate programme and further to issue a writ or direction to the respondent to provide representation to the persons with disabilities or organizations working for the cause of disability as the members of the Task Force, Academic Council, Executive Council or any other body of the Delhi University so that needs of the persons with disabilities can also be taken into consideration while introducing a new four year under graduate programme with multiple degree and framing appropriate syllabus for the said programme.=The ancient sage “Ashtavakra” while laying down the traffic rules had categorically stated that the blind man has the first right on the road. Thus, emphasis has always been laid on the visually impaired persons for many a reason. When we say so, we may not be understood to have said that otherwise impaired or disabled people are to be treated differently in the constitutional and statutory scheme. We have only laid emphasis on the visually impaired students for the purpose of present case. It is the need of the present time that the University shall look into the matter and mitigate the grievances of the visually impaired students as far as possible. We have already indicated that we are not experts. But we are disposed to think that the problem has remained unsolved. The same is required to be addressed to in an apposite manner. We do not intend to say that it has not at all been addressed but there has to be more focus, more empathy and more sensitivity. Therefore, we permit the appellant-organisation to submit a representation indicating its grievances and the views to the said Committee within three days which shall be dealt with by the Committee within a week hence. 13. The appeal is accordingly disposed of without any order as to costs.

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English: This is an official emblem of the Uni...

English: This is an official emblem of the University of Delhi with “Elephant, Book and Lotus” with the inscription “निष्ठा धृति: सत्यम्” in Sanskrit. The emblem was conceived by Pt. Lachmi Dhar Kalla (1891–1953), Founder Head of the then Department of Oriental Languages of university. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
Rep
ortable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL No. 4722-4723 OF 2013
(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 19152-53 of 2013)
Sambhavana … Appellant
Versus
University of Delhi …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, J.
Leave granted.
2. The appellant-organisation invoked the jurisdiction of
the High Court of Delhi in WP(C) No. 2982 of 2013 for
issue of a writ in the nature of mandamus directing
the respondent-University to make provisions to
introduce a bridge course for students with vision
impairment in the first year of four years underPage 2
graduate programme so that they can easily pursue
the foundation course and become part of
mainstream education system; issue a direction to
the respondent to introduce a foundation course in
the second year of the four years for under graduate
programme; command the respondent to provide
accessible reading materials and to make provisions
for training of the teachers who will teach the
students in “Mathematics” and “Science and Life” in
the four years under graduate programme and
further to issue a writ or direction to the respondent
to provide representation to the persons with
disabilities or organizations working for the cause of
disability as the members of the Task Force,
Academic Council, Executive Council or any other
body of the Delhi University so that needs of the
persons with disabilities can also be taken into
consideration while introducing a new four year
under graduate programme with multiple degree and
framing appropriate syllabus for the said programme.
2Page 3
3. Before the High Court, the respondent-University
entered appearance and produced a notification
dated 14th May, 2013 which indicated that an
Empowered Committee had been constituted
consisting of fourteen academicians to look into the
special needs of the students with disabilities and
suggestions for suitable modifications would be made
in curricula, mode of instructions and assessment to
the Vice Chancellor of the University. It was
submitted that the Empowered Committee has been
asked to submit an interim report on (a) measures
that need to be taken to modify the curricula keeping
in mind the special needs of persons with disability;
(b) steps to be taken to improve availability of
reading materials; and (c) to examine the measures
currently in place in the internal assessment scheme
and examination pattern and further changes that
could be made in that regard. It was suggested
before the High Court that the appellant-organisation
could also make suggestions to the said Empowered
3Page 4
Committee so that the same would be taken note of
before the report is submitted to the Vice Chancellor.
4. An apprehension was expressed by the appellantorganisation that in the event the admission process
commenced, some students with disabilities may
face difficulty in admission and, therefore, the period
stipulated for the Empowered Committee to submit
the report by 15th June, 2013 should be pre-poned so
that the recommendations could be implemented by
the Vice Chancellor before the admission process is
completed. The High Court, considering the
submissions raised at the Bar, directed as follows: –
“We direct the Empowered Committee
constituted as per the notification dated 14th
May 2013 to hear the suggestions made by the
petitioner and submit a report to the Vice
Chancellor by 7th June 2013 so that the Vice
Chancellor could take a decision in respect of
this report by 15th June 2013. The action taken
on the basis of the order of this Court shall be
made available to the Court by way of a report
by the University on the next adjourned date.
List on 03.07.2013.”
5. Though the matter has been adjourned by the High
Court and it is in seisin of the matter, yet the
appellant-organisation has approached this Court.
4Page 5
Regard being had to the sensitive nature of the issue
and the attention it deserves, this Court required the
learned counsel for the appellant-organisation to
serve a copy of the petition on the counsel for the
learned counsel for the Delhi University and,
accordingly, the respondent has entered appearance
and filed the response.
6. Though prayer has been made to restrain the
respondent-University from introducing the four year
under graduate programme with multiple degrees
which is the final outcome of the case, we are not
inclined to pass any order of stay. However, we will
proceed to deal with the matter keeping in view the
submissions advanced by Mr. Pankah Kumar Sinha,
learned senior counsel for the appellant and Ms. Pinki
Anand, learned senior counsel for the University.
7. Before we advert to the submissions raised at the
Bar, it is necessary to advert to the affidavit filed by
the University. It is averred in the affidavit that the
Empowered Committee consists of experts and some
visually impaired experts from All India Confederation
5Page 6
of the Blinds and Eye Way are special invitees to
attend the meetings. The primary objective of
including those individuals was to obtain their
perspective on visual impairment with regard to the
new under graduate programme on the basis of their
expertise and experiences. The representation
preferred by the appellant-organisation on 22nd May,
2013 has been referred to. The facilities that have
been provided to the physically disabled students
have been enumerated. The said aspects need not
be stated in detail as that is not in the realm of
controversy. However, as far as the students with
vision impairment are concerned, it is contended that
the University has provided a Braille Library and
funds have been earmarked for each college to
obtain the necessary technologies to facilitate screen
reading for visually impaired students; that the
representation submitted by the appellantorganisation has been considered by the Empowered
Committee and taking note of the special needs of
the students of the said category a report has been
6Page 7
prepared by the Empowered Committee; and that the
same shall be placed before the Academic Council.
The report of the Empowered Committee has been
brought on record. The suggestions of the appellantorganisation have been referred to in the report. It is
stated in the report that each of the suggestions has
been carefully and objectively examined and
recommendations have been made. The relevant
part of the recommendations are reproduced
hereinbelow: –
“Recommendations:
On the basis of the deliberations of the
committee the following recommendations are
made:
1. Curriculum:
A. No modification in curricula prescribed for the
Courses under reference is called-for except,
if and wherever applicable, substituting visual
content with alternative content. It is further
stated that both ‘Building Mathematical
Ability’ and ‘Science in Life’ have equal
importance for student with disabilities and
non-disabled in day to day life.
B. Students studying these papers should be
provided all requisite support and facilities to
enable them to study these Courses
efficiently and conveniently. The Faculties of
mathematics and Science should be
requested to provide a copy each of the
7Page 8
essential diagrams, figures and charts and
the same should be converted in accessible
format by the EOC throughout sourcing.
C. However, in case there are some students
with disabilities who do not find it at all
possible to study these papers despite
support from the University, will have the
choice to study two alternative papers Viz.
History of Science and Communication and
Personality Development. The Hon’ble Vice
Chancellor may kindly get the syllabi of these
Courses prepared.
D. Tutorials/remedial teaching sessions should
be conducted in these two Courses to
address individual student-difficulties and fill
in the gaps on a regular basis throughout the
two semesters.
2. Mode of Instructions:
It is recommended that in the case of the
visually impaired, the Course entitled “Science
And Life” should be taught in the 1st semester
and the Course entitled “Building Mathematical
Ability” in the 2nd semester such an
arrangement is possible within the existing
structure of the foundation course under FYUP
programme. It is further recommended that an
orientation programme should be organized
preferably in the 1st half of July, 2013 or during
the early part of the 1st semester for college
teachers teaching maths and science with a
view to familiarizing them with the pedagogy of
teaching these papers to students with visual
impairments and other disabilities. The
programme will be of a duration of 10 days and
will be organized by the Faculty of maths and
science in collaboration with EOC. The teaching
in this orientation programme will be done by
the eminent experts in the field of teaching
students with disabilities. The teachers should
8Page 9
be requested to describe verbally the black
board work for the benefit of students with
disabilities. Special devices should be made
available to various colleges by the University.
The list is given as (annexure E).
3. Accessible reading material and
special devices:
The concerned departments will identify and
provide a reading package in English and Hindi
to EOC who will get them converted in
accessible formats by out sourcing.”
8. Mr. Sinha, learned senior counsel has submitted that
the recommendations do not really address the
grievances in a seemly manner. In his written note
he has, we must appreciably state, enumerated the
difficulties that would be faced by the students who
are visually impaired. He has categorized the
problems and suggested that as far as Science and
Life is concerned, it is the stand of the appellantorganisation that teaching of Science and Life does
not require more orientation but needs special
intensive training of manpower (teachers and nonteaching assistive staff) for at least one semester.
He has dealt with the objectives and expected
outcome and suggested the views. The views that
have been given pertain to many a sphere. As far as
9Page 10
Building Mathematical Ability is concerned, in the
written note the learned senior counsel has given the
views and there are also views relating to
requirement and arrangements to be made to teach
mathematics to visually impaired students. We are
not enumerating the views and suggestions given in
the note, for we are not experts and we do not intend
to dwell upon the same in presenti.
9. At this juncture, we are obliged to state that though
the University had constituted an Empowered
Committee and it has experts, yet we are inclined to
think that the grievances raised by the appellantorganisation relating to visually impaired students
require more focus and sensitive approach. In this
context, we may refer with profit to Section 30 of the
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,
Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995
(for brevity “the Act”). It reads as follows: –
“30. Appropriate Governments to prepare
a comprehensive education scheme
providing for transport facilities, supply of
books, etc. – Without prejudice to the
foregoing provisions, the appropriate
1Page 11
Governments shall by notification prepare a
comprehensive education scheme which shall
make provision for –
(a) transport facilities to the children with
disabilities or in the alternative financial
incentives to parents or guardians to enable
their children with disabilities to attend
schools;
(b) the removal of architectural barriers from
schools, colleges or other institutions
imparting vocational and professional
training;
(c) the supply of books, uniforms and other
materials to children with disabilities
attending school;
(d) the grant of scholarship to students with
disabilities;
(e) setting up of appropriate fora for the
redressal of grievances of parents regarding
the placement of their children with
disabilities;
(f) suitable modification in the examination
system to eliminate purely mathematical
questions for the benefit of blind students
and students with low vision;
(g) restructuring of curriculum for the benefit
of children with disabilities;
(h) restructuring the curriculum for the benefit
of students with hearing impairment to
facilitate them to take only one language as
part of their curriculum.”
10. On a careful reading of the aforesaid provision, the
legislative intendment relating to comprehensive
education scheme is crystal clear. Section 30(f) lays
1Page 12
down suitable modification in the examination
system and sub-section(g) requires restructuring of
curriculum for the benefit of children with disabilities.
The said mandate of the statute has to be given due
weightage. In this context, Section 31 of the Act is
referred with profit: –
“31. Educational institutions to provide
amanuensis to students with visual
handicap. – All educational institutions shall
provide or cause to be provided amanuensis to
blind students and students with or low vision.”
11. The aforesaid provision exposits the real concern of
the legislature which is in tune with the international
conventions. The Parliament has cast certain
obligations under the State and Central Governments
in this regard. It is requisite of them to develop
special devices and aids so that a child with disability
gets equal opportunity and comes to the main
stream. A teacher imparting education to such
visually impaired children should be absolutely
competent and he must have the adequate training.
Transport facilities, supply of books and uniforms and
grant of scholarships are in a different sphere
1Page 13
altogether. The grievance that has been accentuated
by Mr. Sinha with real concern is that there has been
on redressal of the grievances pertaining to
modification in the examination system and
restructuring of curriculum. Be it noted, India has
ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities. It has become operative
from May, 2008. Article 24 of the said Convention
deals with education of persons with disabilities. It
gives emphasis on development of human potential,
sense of dignity, self-worth and strengthening of
respect for human rights and creativity. Article 24(4)
of the Convention reads as follows: –
“4. In order to help ensure the realization of this
right, States Parties shall take appropriate
measures to employ teachers, including
teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in
sign language and/or Braille, and to train
professionals and staff who work at all levels of
education. Such training shall incorporate
disability awareness and the use of appropriate
augmentative and alternative modes, means
and formats of communication, educational
techniques and materials to support persons
with disabilities.”
12. We are absolutely conscious that there is an
enactment but India has shown its concern by
1Page 14
ratifying the said Convention and, therefore, we have
reproduced the same. When the University has
thought of imparting education in a different way, it
has to bear in mind the need of sensitivity and
expected societal responsiveness. A visually
impaired student is entitled to receive special
treatment. Under the constitutional frame the State
has to have policies for such categories of people.
Article 41 of the Constitution of India casts a duty on
the State to make effective provisions for securing,
inter alia, the rights of the disabled and those
suffering from other infirmities within the limits of
economic capacity and development. It is imperative
that the authorities look into the real grievances of
the visually impaired people as that is the
constitutional and statutory policy. The University
has to live the role of Loco Parentis and show its
concern to redress the grievances in proper
perspective. Not for nothing Ralph Waldo Emerson
had said “the secret of education is respecting pupil”.
Thus, the necessity of the visually impaired students
1Page 15
should have primacy in the mind of the Empowered
Committee of the University. Education for visually
impaired students is a great hope for them and such
a hope is the brightest bliss in their lives. History has
recorded with pride that some men with visual
impairment have shown high intellectual prowess.
The anguish and despondency in the life of Milton,
the famous English poet, did not deter him to carry
out the mission of his life. Lack of vision could not
destroy his Will power. Needless to say that he had
the support of the society. The ancient sage
“Ashtavakra” while laying down the traffic rules had
categorically stated that the blind man has the first
right on the road. Thus, emphasis has always been
laid on the visually impaired persons for many a
reason. When we say so, we may not be understood
to have said that otherwise impaired or disabled
people are to be treated differently in the
constitutional and statutory scheme. We have only
laid emphasis on the visually impaired students for
the purpose of present case. It is the need of the
1Page 16
present time that the University shall look into the
matter and mitigate the grievances of the visually
impaired students as far as possible. We have
already indicated that we are not experts. But we
are disposed to think that the problem has remained
unsolved. The same is required to be addressed to in
an apposite manner. We do not intend to say that it
has not at all been addressed but there has to be
more focus, more empathy and more sensitivity.
Therefore, we permit the appellant-organisation to
submit a representation indicating its grievances and
the views to the said Committee within three days
which shall be dealt with by the Committee within a
week hence.
13. The appeal is accordingly disposed of without any
order as to costs.
…………………………….J.
[Dr. B.S. Chauhan]
….………………………….J.
[Dipak Misra]
New Delhi;
May 29, 2013.
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