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Re-examine decision asking employees to report for duty, Karnataka HC tells govt.

State govt. asked to keep the problems of visually challenged in mind

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday directed the State government to reconsider its May 18, 2020 decision of asking all the employees of the government and its autonomous agencies to report to the respective offices for duty, keeping in mind the difficulties being faced by such employees, particularly the blind, to adhere to COVID-19 norms.

Noticing that the Union government had granted exemption from reporting to duty for pregnant women and employees with disabilities, the court said the State government was required to reconsider its decision in the light of the rights guaranteed to persons with disabilities.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty issued the direction while hearing a PIL petition filed by the Karnataka Federation of the Blind, Bengaluru.

The Bench took note of the issue that persons with disabilities, particularly the blind, will face difficulties to follow the COVID-19 norms, particularly maintaining social distancing, as they need to come into physical contact with others for taking assistance to discharge their duties. The visually challenged employees would come into physical contact with others more often and such contacts cannot be avoided, the Bench observed.

It was pointed out on behalf of the petitioner-federation that government of India issued two official memoranda in June and October giving exemption and such an exemption was essential in the State as blind employees were prone to the danger of contracting COVID-19 as they cannot maintain social distancing on their own.

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