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Manif Alam Vs. Indian Institute of Technology and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (16 Feb 2018)

Every student with disability cannot be expelled without giving further opportunity to attain necessary levels



The Petitioner, a physically-disabled student enrolled in M.Sc. Mathematics in Respondent No. 1- Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in academic year 2017-18, being aggrieved by order issued by Respondent No. 1-Institute whereby his name has been struck-off from the student rolls of Respondent No. 1-Institute immediately after the end of first semester of academic session 2017-18, has approached present Court seeking an order and a direction to the Respondent No. 1 University to reinstate him as a regular student and allow him to continue his second semester in the said course.

The core issue which needs to be considered is as to whether a student like the Petitioner who is able to join a premier Institute like IIT Delhi only because of the 5% reservation provided for "Persons with Disability' can be expelled from the Institute after the very first semester on account of his inability to meet the criteria fixed for general students who had admittedly joined the Institute with much better academic backgrounds in terms of marks.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 clearly mandates in Section 16 sub-clause (iv) that, it is the duty of all educational institutions to provide necessary support to maximise academic and social development consistent with the goal of full inclusion, and in sub-clause (vii) mandates monitoring participation, progress in terms of attainment levels and completion of education with respect of every student with disability; which can never be achieved if they are expelled without giving further an opportunity to attain the necessary levels. Respondent No. 1 have clearly failed to comply with such requirements and if this is the state of affairs of the IITs in India then one can only imagine what goes on the institutions which get lesser funds and guidance from the Union Government.

The provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 leave no doubt of any kind that, the object sought to be achieved by these special enactments is to give persons suffering from disabilities an opportunity to join the mainstream and attain full participation in nation building. For this purpose, it is incumbent for the educational institutes to give them extra coaching and guidance if need be and provide them reservation at the time of admission in the Institutes. A mere reservation at the time of entry into the Institute, would become meaningless if the Institutes like IIT Delhi/Respondent No. 1 don't do their bit and extend a helping hand to such students. An autonomous premier Institute like the Respondent No. 1 ought to have been more sensitive towards the needs of the persons with disabilities or 'differently abled persons' which is the more appropriate term to be used for such persons.

The Respondent Institute cannot, by placing reliance on its Rules, defeat the very purpose of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Both these aforesaid Acts are special legislations dealing with persons with disability ensuring equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation and therefore, it is the duty of every Educational Institution to make an endeavour to ensure that, the special objects of these Acts are achieved. Respondent No. 1-Institute having admittedly failed to provide special facilities by way of extra coaching and guidance to the Petitioner has failed in its duty and for this reason alone, the impugned order is liable to be set aside. The Petitioner surely deserves a chance to improve his performance and make an attempt to clear his backlog for which purpose the respondent Institute ought to give him extra coaching and guidance.

The automatic and compulsory expulsion of a student from the Institute, upon his failure to achieve the prescribed grade, without even giving him any opportunity to even give an explanation for his failure to meet the prescribed criteria would definitely be a violation of principles of natural justice. Even though full autonomy ought to be given to Educational institutes in respect of academic standards but this autonomy cannot be read to mean that the students, and that too those belonging to this disadvantaged group of physically challenged persons, should not even be given a chance to improve their performance. Impugned order is set aside. The Respondent No. 1 is directed to immediately re-admit the Petitioner and also provide him extra coaching, if the need be. The writ petition is, accordingly, allowed.


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