Devbrat Patnaik

New Delhi: When disabled candidates (‘Divyangjans’) staged a sit-in at Mandi House in Delhi over some issues for Level-1 jobs in the Indian Railways for Divyangajans, the Ministry of Railways clarified that as far as Divyangjan candidates are concerned, Railways have ensured that notification of the required number of reserved vacancies, conduct of the entire recruitment exercise, and filling up of posts meant for Divyangjan have been not only transparent and fair but also in accordance with statutory provisions and the law of the land in this regard.

The Railways in February 2018 issued a notification inviting applications for around 63000 Level-1 vacancies for all Railway zones across Indian Railways by Railway Recruitment Boards.

This notification had initially 729 vacancies for Disabled in 3 Categories- Orthopaedic, Visual, and Hearing Disabled, the major chunk of vacancies was for Orthopaedically Disabled, based on job and suitability requirements of the posts advertised.

Later when an organization of visually impaired persons filed a PIL in Delhi High Court, the total vacancies to be reserved for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD) was revised upwards to 4%, with prescribed bifurcation among Disability categories.

Subsequently, Railways revised the total vacancies reserved for Disabled candidates (Divyangjan) upwards from 729 to over 2400 with around 600 for each of the 4 Disability categories of LD, VI, HI and MD.

Take a look at the numbers. There were a total of about 1.87 crore applicants for the said recruitment. Written Exams (Computer-based 100% objective in 15 languages) were conducted in the latter part of 2018 and around 1.55 lakh Disabled candidates took the exam for the 2400 posts notified as reserved for such candidates.

Any large competitive examination has to be conducted as per merit and as per statutory provisions. In a situation where around 2400 vacancies are reserved for Divyangjan and there are 1.55 lakh Divyangjan applicants, it is clear that the end of the recruitment exercise will, unfortunately, result in around 1.53 lakh Divyangjan not making the cut, the Railways stated.

As things stand, the Railways are bound to follow statutory provisions as notified. Any specific irregularities/grievances, if pointed out, will be promptly examined and corrective action, if necessitated, taken. This has been repeatedly emphasized to the protesters. The Railways continues to remain committed to the cause of Divyangjans.

Below are some of the demands of the protesters and the response of the Railways.

Demand: Interchange/merger of all ‘Divyangjan’ vacancies across Disability categories

Response: As per the revised PwBD Act, 2016, unfilled Disabled vacancies are carried forward to next year. Only if they remain unfilled in the next year also, an interchange of vacancies across Disabled categories is permissible.

Demand: Diversion of other quota unfilled vacancies such as for trained Act Apprentices to Divyangjan quota

Response: Such Diversion across quotas is not permissible

Demand: Preference for appointment to those who have come to Delhi for the agitation

Response: Not permissible, as merit in the category alone can determine filling up of vacancies in any Railway zone.