Government servants suffering from ailments like Parkinson’s disease need not opt for voluntary retirement as they are entitled to an alternative job with the same pay scale and service benefits under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.
Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani gave the ruling, disposing of a writ petition on a voluntary retirement request made by the Head of the Department of Zoology at M.S.S. Wakf Board College, a government-aided institution, here. The judges said no employee needed to retire solely on account of disabilities suffered during the course of employment.
M. Abdul Rahim claimed to have joined the college as an assistant professor in 1980. But he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1988. Though he managed to cope with his chores during the initial stages of the disease, things went out of control in 2010 when a medical board found him unfit to teach loudly in class and draw diagrams on the board.
Since his physical movements also slowed down, the doctors said it would be difficult for him to supervise the students, besides managing them at the laboratory.
On September 11, 2010, Mr. Rahim submitted a letter expressing his willingness to go on voluntary retirement. It was accepted by the college management within four days.
After a fortnight, he sent another letter withdrawing his willingness. But the plea was rejected, and hence the present case.
Not in agreement with the stand taken by the management, the judges said the acceptance of the voluntary retirement request would not override the statutory protection enjoyed by the physically challenged.
Authoring the judgment, Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian pointed out that the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, defined ‘disability’ as blindness, hearing impairment, loco motor disability and so on. Since Parkinson’s disease led to slow movement, postural instability and tremor at rest, it would fall under the category of loco motor disability, he noted.
The judge said that under Section 47 (1) of the Act, no establishment should dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who suffered a disability during his service. If he became unsuitable for his post, he could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and benefits. A supernumerary post could also be created if a suitable alternative post was not available.