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Kunal Singh v. Union of India and Another 2003 (4) Supreme Court Cases 524 (D/13.02.2003).

Kunal Singh v. Union of India and Another 2003 (4) Supreme Court Cases 524 (D/13.02.2003).

Courtesy: Ashok Agarwal, Social Jurist, New Delhi

Kunal Singh was disabled in the course of his duty. His employer declared him permanently incapacitated and terminated his services. They gave him an invalidity pension and refused to grant him alternate employment.

The Details

The appellant was a constable in the Special Service Bureau. When he was on duty, he suffered an injury in his left leg, which led to amputation of his leg. The Medical Board's report declared him to be permanently incapacitated for service. Therefore, his services were terminated.

The Appeal

He filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the termination order and claiming that he should have been assigned with alternative duty which he could discharge keeping in view the extent of his disability. The High Court dismissed the writ petition.

Therefore, he filed the Instant appeal. Referring to Section 47 and a few relevant definitions contained in Section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (for short "the Act"), he contended that on the facts and circumstances of the case, keeping in view the object and purpose of the Act, he ought to have been granted the relief sought in the writ petition.

The Argument

On the other hand, supporting the impugned order, the respondent Government referred to Rule 38 of the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 under which the appellant was granted invalidity pension. The respondent added that in view of the relevant definitions contained in Section 2 of the Act, the appellant was not a person with disability as he was permanently incapacitated!

  • Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court held that the Act applies to the establishment of the respondents and is not exempted under Section 47 thereof.

Discussion

A person does not acquire or suffer disability by choice. An employee, who acquires disability during his service, is sought to be protected under Section 47 of the Act. Section 47, which falls in Chapter VIII deals with an employee, who is already in service and acquires a disability during his service. Such an employee, acquiring disability, if not protected, would not only suffer himself, but possibly all those who depend on him would also suffer. The very frame and contents of Section 47 clearly indicate its mandatory nature.

It was argued that the language of Section 47 is certain, and casts statutory obligation on the employer to protect an employee who has acquired a disability during service.

The counsel further stated that the appellant is covered by Section 2(i)(v) read with Section 2(o) of the Act, and by virtue of that proviso mentioned there must be considered to be disabled and not permanently incapacitated. Section 2 of the Act has provided distinct and different definitions of "disability" and "person with disability". It is well settled in the same enactment that if two distinct definitions are given then only that view which advances the object of the Act and serves its purpose must be preferred.

The Judgment

The Supreme Court also held that merely because under Rule 38 of the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, the appellant received an invalid pension is no ground to deny the protection mandatorily made available to the appellant under Section 47 of the Act.

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