On August 6, students with disabilities from various undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Delhi University held an agitation at North Campus. They were trying to bring the Delhi University administration’s attention towards the irregularities being committed by various university and college hostels with respect to seat allotment for PWD students.
One of the protesting students, Shiv, who is a second-year student at Law Faculty told me, “Only 3% of all seats have been reserved for PWD students in various UG and PG hostels in DU when it should be 5% according to provisions made in the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.”
It should be known that admissions to various DU hostels are underway or have been completed. However, many students from the PWD category have been compelled to find accommodation outside, due to the irregularities in admission to DU which has caused them tremendous distress. Many hostels of DU and its constituent colleges are following the old reservation norms which called for reservation of only 3% of the total number of seats for students with disabilities in educational institutions.
However, as per the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016, it has become mandatory to follow the new reservation norms which explicitly reserve 5% seats for students with disabilities. A delegation of students with disabilities had also submitted a memorandum to the DU administration demanding that admission processes are conducted according to the new reservation norms for Persons with Disabilities (PWD). However, no action whatsoever has been taken until now to ensure compliance with the new law.
Ramnath, a research scholar in the Political Science department of DU said, “The denial of seats to the disabled students is not simply illegal, but in effect violates their constitutional rights. This new policy despite being followed by DU in admissions this year, has been overlooked by many university and college hostels, thereby denying the students from the disabled community the rightful number of seats reserved for them.”
In the hostel prospectus of colleges like Ramjas and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, you’ll find that only 3% seats have been reserved for students with disabilities. Colleges like Hansraj have not even mentioned the percentage of seats reserved for students with disabilities in their hostel prospectus, thereby leaving enough scope for arbitrary practices. Even in hostels directly run by DU such as Jubilee Hall, Rajiv Gandhi Hostel for Girls, etc. only 3% seats have been reserved for students with disabilities.
There are many other issues that students from the PWD category face, one of the most important is the denial of hostel facilities to PWD research scholars. As is already known, only a handful of PWD students are able to get admission in research courses since most of the students belong to very poor families and are consequently unable to continue their education, especially due to the apathetic stance of the university administrations. In such a context, the research scholars who are compelled to live outside due to non-provision of hostels have to face a lot of difficulties and in the process, their research suffers.