BLAST and another vs. Bangladesh and others [‘Discriminatory Reservation’ Case]

Writ Petition No. 1783 of 1998

High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh

BLAST along with Muhammad Sarwar Hussain Khan, a person with a visual impairment, filed a writ petition challenging a circular issued by the Ministry of Establishment on 17.03.1997 amending the provision for quotas on direct employment in all classes of post of the services of Government (autonomous, semi-autonomous and corporations). The said amendment reserved 10% of posts for physically disabled persons only in respect to third and fourth class posts, while it had reserved posts for Muktijodhdhas, women, indigenous people, etc. in respect to all classes. There was thus no reservation for physically disabled persons in the first and second class posts.

The petitioners argued that the failure to make reservations in higher post in government service for physically disabled persons limited the scope for direct recruitment of educationally qualified but physically disabled persons in higher posts. They emphasised that reservations are made in view of factors such as contribution, merit, needs, social vulnerability and isolation, and that the amending provision limiting reservations for disabled persons frustrated the underlying reason of reservations and constitutes discrimination. While a freedom fighter or an indigenous person or a woman with a physical disability can secure direct recruitment to higher posts, a person with physical disability who does not fall under these categories cannot avail of the same. The petitioners cited high officials serving with physical disabilities all over the world as well as professionals in Bangladesh. The denial of differential treatment constituted a violation of right to equality, to equal opportunities to public employment, to be treated in accordance with law, and to profession as guaranteed under Articles 27, 29, 31 and 42 of the Constitution.

The High Court issued a Rule Nisi on 12.07.1998 calling upon the Ministry of Establishment and the Ministry of Social Welfare to show cause why the impugned circular amending the reservations for persons with disabilities for direct employment in government services and failing to reserve any posts for them in respect of first and second class posts should not be declared to be arbitrary, discriminatory and without lawful authority.

Laws Cited:
Constitution, Articles 27, 29, 31 and 42.

Rule discharged on 01.02.2006.


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