New Delhi:
Disbaled government employees seeking voluntary retirement due to the hardships faced by them can continue in service with the same pay scale and benefits, the Personnel Ministry said in an order issued on Monday, highlighting the different protections available to them.

Citing provisions under Section 20 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, it said every government establishment shall provide reasonable accommodation and appropriate barrier-free and conducive environment to employees with disability.

The ministry said no promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of disability. It said no government establishment shall discriminate against any person with disability in any matter relating to employment.

"No Government establishment shall dispense with or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his or her service," reads the Section 20(4) of the RPWD Act, cited by the ministry in its order.

Referring to the RPWD Act and a Supreme Court's judgement, the order said "it is stated that whenever a government servant seeks voluntary retirement citing medical grounds, or when the said VRS notice has been submitted due to a disability, the administrative authorities shall examine as to whether the case is covered under Section 20(4) of RPWD Act, 2016".

In case the provisions are applicable, the government servant shall be advised that he/she has the option of continuing in service with the same pay scale and service benefits, said the order issued to secretaries of all central government departments.

"In case a disabled government servant reconsiders his decision and withdraws the notice for voluntary retirement, his case shall be dealt with the aforesaid provisions of Section 20 of RPWD Act, 2016. If however, in spite of being so advised, such government servant still wishes to take voluntary retirement, the request may be processed as per the applicable rules," it said. The ministry has replaced instructions issued in May 2015 with this latest order.

According to the 2015 order, instances had come to the notice of the authorities where government servants apply for voluntary retirement "on account of hardships faced by them due to a disability, as they are unaware of the protection provided by the Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act or the PWD Act of 1995.

"In this regard, it is stated that the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (PWD Act) has been repealed by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD Act, 2016), which came into force on 19th April, 2017," the order said. Hence, Section 47 of PWD Act, 1995 as stated in the 2015 order is replaced by the provisions of Section 20 of the RPWD Act, 2016, it added. The Section 47 of the PWD Act had provisions on non-discrimination against disabled government employees and for their protection.