Observing that sufferings cannot be measured in terms of money, the Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to reinstate all its drivers, who were sacked in April 2018 for suffering from "color blindness." The HC said that if an employee attains a (physical) disability during the time of his employment, then the employer is duty bound not to terminate his services.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla said that the employers in such a situation must provide alternate jobs to the workers with the same pay scale.
Referring to the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the judges said, "A person diagnosed with a disability
cannot be subjected to discrimination, if such disability was acquired during the course
of employment. If a person suffers from disability acquired during the course of employment, the government establishment is required to provide reasonable accommodation and also an appropriate barrier free and conducive environment to the employee."
"The person diagnosed with a disability shall not be denied any promotion merely on the ground of such disability, nor shall the services of such a person be dispensed with, or he be reduced in rank on account of such disability," the judges held.
The bench was dealing with a plea filed by a group of bus drivers, who were sacked by the MSRTC after they were diagnosed to be color blind. The MSRTC, however, changed its stance after being slammed by the HC and later on decided to give them alternate jobs, but only when such work is identified. The state transport body also decided to treat the period between April 2018 till the date the drivers would be given alternate jobs, to be "non-paid leaves."
Having heard the contentions, the bench said, "The drivers ought to be shifted to an alternative post with MSRTC with the same pay scale and service benefits and if it is not possible to adjust them against any post immediately, they have to be kept on supernumerary posts until suitable posts are available.
“The MSRTC has no right and is in fact prohibited from treating the intervening period between the medical examination and a decision thereon as leave without pay."