The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be caste-based reservations in special benefits provided to physically challenged persons.
"A disabled is a disabled. The question of making any further reservation on the basis of caste, creed or religion ordinarily may not arise. They constitute a special class," a bench of Justices SB Sinha and H S Bedi observed.
Interpreting Article 16 (4) of the Constitution, which provides for special reservation to SCs, STs and BCs, and its ruling in the Indra Sawhney case wherein it held that reservation should not exceed 50 per cent, the apex court said "reservation for women or handicapped persons would not come within the purview of that ruling".
Even if reservations for SCs, STs and BCs touched the 50 per cent ceiling, it would not preclude the government from providing reservation to the handicapped and women over this limit.
The Supreme Court passed the ruling while ordering the re-instatement of three assistant school teachers who were recruited under the physically challenged quota by the Madhya Pradesh government, but subsequently terminated on the ground that no reservation was given to SCs, STs or BCs in the recruitment.