“The India Lawyers Council, which acts as the main regulatory agency for the country’s legal profession, created barriers to entry for disabled lawyers early in his career,” said a blind law graduate, claiming the council refused to pose to him because of its persistent nature physical disability will make reasonable arrangements available to appear at the upcoming All India Bar Examination on January 24th.
According to Government of India “Guidelines for Conducting a Written Examination for Individuals With Benchmark Disabilities 2018”:
- The writer / reader / lab assistant facility should be allowed to any person with a benchmark disability under Section 2 (r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016, i.e. at least 40% of a specific disability, written restriction including speed, if this is desired by him / her;
- The candidate should have the discretion to choose their own writer / reader / laboratory assistant or to request the examination board to do so.
- If the candidate is allowed to bring their own scribe, the qualification of the scribe should be “one step below” the qualification of the candidate taking the exam.
- For persons who are permitted to use a clerk / reader / laboratory assistant, a compensation time of at least 20 minutes per examination hour should be allowed.
- If possible, the test center should also provide reading material in Braille or e-text or on computers with suitable screen reading software for the test with an open hook.
These guidelines should, among other things, allow a degree of flexibility to meet specific requirements on a case-by-case basis.
Against this background, the lawyer injured in this case had requested the council due to his disability to (i) give him permission to bring a clerk with him to write his examination, (ii) to give him an additional time of 20 minutes per hour Write the exam and (iii) allow him to carry a laptop as AIBE is an open accounting exam.
To his greatest shock and surprise, however, the agency initially denied him permission to take a laptop with him for an open audit, despite the fact that it was specifically stated in the 2018 guidelines, and blocked the other two requests to bring a clerk and take additional time to take.
“It will be decided on the admission card release date,” the council said in a response to the candidate’s request.
After a later review by the candidate, the council allowed him to take a laptop with him without an internet connection. It also allowed him to bring a scribe who should “only qualify 12th, no earlier than 2019.”
“The Advocate Council’s request for a clerk who did not qualify more than the 12th round shows his regressive attitude towards the equal right of disabled candidates to take the exam,” the candidate said, emphasizing that this is the only limitation in relation to this Guidelines on a 2018 scribe are that the scribe should be “one step in the qualification” of the candidate taking the exam.
When he pointed this out to the authorities, he said there has been no response to this day.
In addition, he insisted that while the 2018 guidelines mandated compensation time of 20 minutes per hour for people with disabilities, the BCI “invented” a percentage bracket of at least 50% certified disability to claim compensation time.
“In times of the pandemic, when systems have been shattered and life is disrupted, the only way the Bar Council makes it difficult for disabled candidates is their stubbornness, rigidity and a reluctant demeanor.
As the cherry on top, the council does not have a functioning system to resolve candidates’ complaints. where e-mails are never answered and calls are never taken, “said the aggrieved student.
He claimed this was a long-standing problem that could only be resolved once a clear policy was established in favor of candidates with physical disabilities. He also hoped that the Council would set up a dedicated help desk where similar candidates could raise their complaints.
Rahul Bajaj, a blind lawyer who gave the AIBE in 2017, said he faced similar challenges when taking the exam in order to obtain the legally guaranteed accommodations.
“The provision that the writer cannot be more than a 12th grade student in 2019 or later betrays a profound inability to accept the skills of the disabled and goes to the heart of their freedom to choose a writer. When I asked them To allow me to use a laptop with a screen reader, the setback was initially that they had been told that “the computer can tell you all the answers.” Such ignorance would be ridiculous if it did not affect many people’s lives .
These arbitrary rules are the product of skilled minds and prevent lawyers with disabilities on a level playing field. What could be more worrying than the body that regulates the legal profession in this country and acts in bold disregard for the existing legal framework? “He lamented.
“This episode also shows how many still see reasonable accommodation, not as rights guaranteed by law, but as a favor to be distributed as they wish,” Rahul said.
[Note: The office of Bar Council of India was unavailable for comments, at the time of writing this report.]
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