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Volume 4 Issue 1 - January 01, 2006

Heart patients not entitled to benefits under Disabilities Act: HC

D.N.I.S. News Network- The Delhi High Court has ruled that people suffering from heart ailments are not entitled to benefits under the Disability Act 1995 for the purpose of seeking a government job.

Setting aside an earlier single bench judgement, Chief Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Madan B. Lokur said heart ailments are not listed as a “disability” under section 2(I) of the Act.

The definition of disability is exhaustive and not inclusive; the bench ruled at a hearing on 15 December allowing an appeal filed by Airport Authority of India (A.A.I.).

Justice Vikramjit Sen, on 16 May this year, had allowed the petition of co-pilot P. Narain Singh, who was removed from service in 1995 following a heart attack and given a ground job in a lower pay scale. He had also directed A.A.I. to place him in the pay scale of a co-pilot. “There is no reason whatsoever to conclude that a person suffering from heart disease has been specifically kept beyond the amelioration and alleviation of the said statute i.e. the Disabilities Act,” Justice Sen had said.

However, the division bench terming the judgement as “incorrect” agreed with A.A.I. counsel Anjana Gosain’s argument that the term “disability” had to be construed strictly, particularly because its definition under the Act was exhaustive and not inclusive.

Lamenting that disability has not been defined in Section 2(I) of the Act in an inclusive manner, the single judge had expressed the hope that “the legislature shall expeditiously consider the question and carry out amendments to the Act.”

Directing A.A.I. to clear Singh’s arrears of salary and other benefits from January 2003 within four weeks, Justice Sen had also asked them to locate promotional avenues for the petitioner keeping in view his medical disability.

Claiming equality before law under Article 14 of the Constitution, Singh had submitted that fellow officer K.P.S. Nair with a similar medical disability had been rehabilitated in a post equivalent to that of a co-pilot and his emoluments and other benefits were protected. However, the division bench did not accept the plea.

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