Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hearing impaired girl wins legal battle against GTU

Source Link - Hearing impaired girl wins legal battle against GTU

A 17-year-old girl with hearing impairment, Rachna Shah, heaved a sigh of relief when she was allowed to take her diploma exams on
Friday after a prolonged legal battle for justice. The Gujarat Technological University (GTU) had to permit her to appear for the test after a Gujarat High Court order in her favour on Thursday. The decision came after irregularities were detected in the evaluation of her answer sheets of remedial tests.

Rachna's fight against the university and education system was not only for herself, but for all those physically challenged students who are discriminated against by state's education authorities. After clearing the boards last year, Rachna enrolled in a diploma course in electronics and communication. Just before she was to take her second semester exams, GTU changed the medium of study to English. Rachna had all along studied in Gujarati medium.

To her shock, she was declared failed in all six subjects. The university provided remedial tests for three subjects, but she was passed in one subject only. She appeared in the mid semester test and secured 67.7 per cent, but was not allowed to attend classes from April this year because she did not clear all the papers in the remedial tests.

She sensed some problem either in calculation of marks or in evaluation of her answer sheets. Rachna requested the authorities to show her answer sheets, which they refused. Ultimately, she approached the officer appointed under the RTI Act, but was shown her copies from a distance only and that too only the first page of the answer book.

She approached the Gujarat High Court demanding transparency in evaluation system, to fix 20 per cent criteria as passing score for disabled students, and to allow her to sit in the third semester. But the judge refused to entertain her application. Ultimately, a division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi heard her case. The judges were furious over the university's attitude towards this physically challenged student.

On court's instructions, the university showed answer sheets to Rachna, a team of subject experts re-assessed the copies, upgraded her marks in two subjects and reduced marks in three papers. A 10-member committee was also set up to inquire against the evaluators, who checked Rachna's answer sheets first. A show-cause notice was issued to evaluators asking them why they should not be debarred on counts of negligence and insincerity.

The court's order has not only smoothened things for Rachna alone, but will force GTU to make appropriate changes in its policy towards physically challenged students.