Principle of Reasonable Accommodation- UPSC Current Affairs

Principle of Reasonable Accommodation

Here’s today’s edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box, wherein you will get detailed insights on a crucial topic, the Principle of Reasonable Accommodation. Read further to enhance your UPSC exam preparation. The topic is relevant from the CSE syllabus in the following way:

For Prelims: Principle of Reasonable Accommodation.

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

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Why in the News?

Recently, the Karnataka High Court has ruled in favor of the State’s circular that students in educational institutions should only wear prescribed uniforms.

Probable Question

Examine the concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’, in the light of the Karnataka High Court verdict in the hijab case.                      

Key Points

Karnataka’s High Court Judgement

  • The decision of the Karnataka High Court has effectively upheld the denial of entry to students wearing the hijab. 
  • The court rejected an argument in support of permitting Muslim girls wearing head-scarves that was based on the principle of ‘reasonable accommodation’. 
  • This meant that the court did not favor making any change or adjustment to the rule that could have enabled the students to maintain their beliefs or practice even while adhering to the uniform rule.
  • The appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court provides an opportunity to see if the concept of reasonable accommodation can be used in the realm of belief and conscience too.

Also, read: Must-Know‌ ‌Articles‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Indian‌ ‌Constitution‌

What is Reasonable Accommodation?

  • ‘Reasonable accommodation’ is a principle that promotes equality, enables the grant of positive rights, and prevents discrimination based on disability, health condition, or personal belief. 
  • The general principle is that reasonable accommodation should be provided unless some undue hardship is caused by such accommodation.
  • Its use is primarily in the disability rights sector.

Legal Position of Reasonable Accommodation in India

  • In India, the Rights of People with Disabilities Act, 2016, defines ‘reasonable accommodation’ as “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments, without imposing a disproportionate or undue burden in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise of rights equally with others”.

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Precedent Set by Judiciary

Vikash Kumar v. UPSC (2021) Case

  • In this case, the Supreme Court elaborated on the concept of ‘Reasonable Accommodation’.
  • In it, the court allowed the use of a scribe in the Union Public Service Commission examination for a candidate with dysgraphia, or writer’s cramp. 
  • The court ruled that benchmark disability, which is a specified disability to the extent of 40%, is related only to special reservations for the disabled in employment, but it need not be a restriction for other kinds of accommodation.
  • It also outlined that failure to provide reasonable accommodation amounts to discrimination.

Jeeja Ghosh and Another v. Union of India and Others (2016)

  • In this case, the Supreme Court outlined that “Equality not only implies preventing discrimination but goes beyond in remedying discrimination against groups suffering systematic discrimination in society.”
  • In concrete terms, it means embracing the notion of positive rights, affirmative action, and reasonable accommodation.”
International Precedent on Reasonable Accommodation: ILO

The International Labour Organization (ILO), in its recommendation on HIV/AIDS and the world of work, defines ‘reasonable accommodation’ as: “any modification or adjustment to a job or to the workplace that is reasonably practicable and enables a person living with HIV or AIDS to have access to, or participate or advance in, employment”.

According to ILO, the need for workplace accommodation may arise in a variety of situations, but four categories of workers were chosen for the guide: workers with disabilities, workers living with HIV and AIDS, pregnant workers and those with family responsibilities, workers who hold a particular religion or belief.

ILO Advocacy for Reasonable Accommodation:

The aforementioned categories of workers come across different kinds of barriers at work which may result in either loss of employment or lack of access to employment. The provision of reasonable accommodation can ensure the address of these barriers and thereby contribute to greater workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Envisioning a Reasonable Accommodation:

It could include a modified working environment, shortened or staggered working hours, additional support from supervisory staff and reduced work commitments are ways in which accommodation can be made. Suitable changes in recruitment processes — allowing scribes during written tests or sign language interpreters during interviews.

News Source: The Hindu

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