Request for sanctioning an aided college for the hearing impaired by a charitable society in the state "cannot be allowed to fall on deaf ears", the Kerala High Court has said and directed the LDF government to reconsider its decision -- against setting up aided colleges -- in this particular case.
Justice Devan Ramachandran said that the state government's policy not to allow any aided colleges "cannot be mechanically applied" to the instant case where the students who would benefit from such an institution "deserve the empathy and support of the society at large".
"They may be hearing impaired, but their prayers cannot be allowed to fall on deaf ears," the judge said.
The court was hearing a plea moved by the Sacred Heart Clarist Province Charitable Society seeking sanction to start an aided arts and science college for hearing impaired students from the academic year 2022-23.
The society, represented by senior advocate Jaju Babu, moved the high court after the Mahatma Gandhi University had not yet considered their request for affiliation to the aided college.
The petitioner organisation, in its plea, claimed that the state government stand was not correct as the institution they intend to start was not a mere aided college, but was intended to "foster social engineering by providing imperative opportunities to the more vulnerable".
It said that hearing impaired students who successfully complete their higher secondary course drop out subsequently as there are no college education opportunities for them.
Mr Babu told the court that the society runs a Higher Secondary School with hostel facility for the hearing impaired and unless they open an aided college, the students passing out from there will have no other option but to discontinue their further education.
He also argued that when the proposed institution was intended to cater to those sections of students who are entitled to be constitutionally protected under the ambit of Articles 15 and 16, the government cannot stand in the way merely saying that this will incur expenditure.
The senior lawyer also contended in the court that the proposed aided college was not a large one and therefore, the expenditure would be a minimum.
The state government, on the other hand, stuck to its stand that aided colleges were not being sanctioned in view of the "anticipated financial burden" and as this was a policy decision, the court cannot interfere with the same.
The high court agreed that the courts cannot interfere with policy decision making of the government, but said that in the instant case the institution cannot be treated as any other aided college as their objective was to "offer a hand to a very vulnerable section of the society" who are entitled to full constitutional protection under Articles 15 and 16.
"Ineluctably, therefore, the policy of the government - not to allow any aided colleges - cannot be mechanically applied to the case of the petitioner, especially when the students who they intend to cater education certainly deserve the empathy and support of the society at large.
"In the afore circumstances, I am certain that the government must reconsider their stand singularly with reference to the application made by the petitioner, though I clarify that the directions herein cannot apply to any other person or entity, since I am guided by the specific factual circumstance impelled herein," Justice Ramachandran said.
The court ordered the state government to reconsider the society's request for starting an aided college, but only for catering to students with hearing disabilities.
"...this shall be done with the empathy that the cause deserves. The government will hear the petitioner and test their credentials for the afore purpose and the resultant order will be issued within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment," the court said.
"Needless to say, on the government taking a decision as afore, the University will proceed to consider the application (of the society) and issue apposite orders on it without any avoidable delay thereafter," it added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)