Benchmark disability is not a pre-condition to obtain a scribe in civil services examination

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Civil Appeal No. 273 of 2021, Decided on 11.02.2021

JUDGES: Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Indira Banjeree, Sanjiv Khanna, JJ.


In the present case, an appeal was filed by Vikash Kumar, a UPSC candidate who was denied a scribe in the civil services’ examination. The appellant has a disability in the form of dysgraphia, commonly known as a Writer’s cramp. His request for scribe was rejected by the UPSC on the ground that a scribe could only be provided to blind candidates and candidates with locomotor disability or cerebral palsy with an impairment of at least 40% and the appellant did not meet this criterion. The Central Administrative Tribunal and the Delhi High Court dismissed his challenge against the rejection by UPSC. Hence, he filed the present appeal.


Whether the petitioner suffering from Benchmark Disability is entitled to scribe in Civil Services Examination?


The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and held that the appellant would be entitled to the facility of a scribe for appearing at the Civil Services Examination and any other competitive selection conducted under the authority of the government.

The Court ruled that a person suffering from the neurological condition of Writer’s Cramp is entitled to have a scribe to write the Civil Service Exam. The bench held that the facility of scribe can be provided for persons with disabilities including those having benchmark disabilities. “The appellant has a chronic neurological condition which is in Schedule 4 of the 2016 Act. We, therefore hold that the appellant is entitled to a scribe.”

The Court directed the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to frame proper guidelines which would regulate and facilitate the grant of a facility of a scribe to persons with disability within the meaning of Section 2(s) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 within three months of the order.

[In Section 2(s) of the 2016 Act, the concept of Persons with disabilities is embodied. Section 2(s) has been phrased by Parliament in broad terms so as to mean a person with a long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers hinders full and effective participation in society equally with others.This section is a far reaching recognition by the legislature of disability as not only a function of a physical or mental impairment but of its interaction  with barriers resulting in a social milieu which prevents the realization of full, effective an equal participation in society. So, the definition of benchmark disability under Section 2(r) cannot be conflated with the notion of disability under Section 2(s).]

The bench observed, “To confine the facility of a scribe only to those who have benchmark disabilities would be to deprive a class of persons of their statutorily recognised entitlements.” The possibility of misuse cannot be used to deprive equal access to persons with disability from seeking the facility of a scribe.

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