The High Court in Himachal Pradesh has ordered the state government to provide free education to the specially-abled students up to university level. It has also ordered to enhance the scholarship amount that they used to get from the government. With effect of this directive Himachal Pradesh would be the first state in India to offer absolute free education in state run schools and colleges.
The Disability Law in India makes it necessary for the education institutes to provide free education to the specially-abled students up to the age of 18. The High court has ordered the state government to enact the law within six months. After the enactment of this directive, thousands of poor specially-abled children in the state would get an opportunity to get back to the schools for studying.
The High Court has also ordered the HP University, Dr. YS Parmar University for Horticulture and Forestry and CSK Krishi Vishvavidyalaya to give away free education to those students who have more than 40% disability in all of the courses that these universities run in the state. The judgment came against the suo moto cognizance letter that was written by Ajai Srivastava of Umang Foundation. It is a public welfare trust and Srivastava himself is an activist who fights for the disability rights. He had given the letter to the chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court way back in July 2011, to safeguard the rights of the specially- abled students.
As a result of the judgment, the court has awarded the Umang Foundation a sum of Rs. 1 Lakh for the development and welfare of disabled children as well. The Court has also given orders to the two state universities at Solan and Palampur to make necessary changes and amendments in their ordinances and prospectus to make sure that they could provide free education to the specially-abled students in the state. Along with the universities the Court has also directed the HP State Public Service Commission and HP Subordinate Service Selection Board to make necessary amendments in their regulations to suit the verdict within a time span of six months.
For blind students, the court has ordered the educational institutes to provide with screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech (TTS) software, optical character recognition (OCR) software, large monitors, handheld magnifiers and standalone reading machines.