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Delhi judge rules dyslexia is a disability
Delhi University has been ordered by the High Court to process the applications of students with dyslexia under the disability quota. The judgement is especially good news for the disability sector as dyslexia is not specifically mentioned in the Act.
Shikar Narang, a student with dyslexia, sought admission to the university under the 3 per cent disability quota. In his Std XII examinations, he had scored 75 per cent, despite his impairment, as Central Board for Secondary Education (C.B.S.E.) recognises the problems faced by dyslexic students and makes concessions for them. His results made Narang confident of gaining a place for further study.
However, upon applying to Delhi University (D.U.), he was told he did not qualify as a disabled person and that his grades were not good enough to secure entry outside the quota system, as there was an 85 per cent minimum. Previously D.U. has applied the disability quota, outlined in the 1995 Disability Act, only to students with physical disabilities.
A disability rights campaigning organisation 'Disability Rights Group, through its Convenor Mr. Javed Abidi, filed a petition with the High Court that dyslexia should be treated as a distinct form of disability under the Disability Act 1995. The petition, filed as a P.I.L., claimed, “excluding neurological disability … is violative of the Act”.
In its judgement, the court took note of C.B.S.E.’s stance on dyslexia and, on June 16, asked the university to “provisionally process” the applications of candidates with dyslexia “on the basis that they are covered under Section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities Act”. The notices were also issued in this regard to the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disability and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (M.O.S.J.). The initial statement made by the M.O.S.J. was in response to that directive.
The M.O.S.J's earlier affidavit had stated that dyslexia could be considered as a form of mental retardation, adding a proviso that "it is not necessary for all the cases of dyslexia to show arrested or incomplete development of mind". Not satisfied with this, the Delhi court has asked the Ministry to file a "better affidavit" as it was not satisfied with Centre's stand on dyslexia.
The judgement is especially good news for the disability sector, as dyslexia is not specifically mentioned in the Act. The judge decided, on reading definitions of dyslexia, that the condition should be treated as a disability and that the student was therefore eligible for entry into D.U. under its 3 per cent disability quota.