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Principle Of Reasonable Accommodation

Context

The Karnataka High Court rejected an argument in support of permitting Muslim girls wearing head-scarves that was based on the principle of ‘reasonable accommodation’.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. What is Reasonable accommodation:
  2. How does the principle work?
  3. What is the legal position on this in India?

What is Reasonable accommodation:

  • ‘Reasonable accommodation’ is a principle that promotes equality, enables the grant of positive rights and prevents discrimination based on disability, health condition or personal belief.
  • Its use is primarily in the disability rights sector.
  • Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) defines reasonable accommodation as 
    • “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO), in its recommendation on HIV/AIDS and the world of work, defines it as
    • “any modification or adjustment to a job or to the workplace that is reasonably practicable and enables a person living with HIV or AIDS to have access to, or participate or advance in, employment”.

How does the principle work?

  • The general principle is that reasonable accommodation should be provided, unless some undue hardship is caused by such accommodation.
  • In 2016, the ILO came out with a practical guide on promoting diversity and inclusion through workplace adjustments.
  • Four categories of workers were chosen for the guide:
    • workers with disabilities,
    • workers living with HIV and AIDS,
    • pregnant workers and those with family responsibilities, and
    • workers who hold a particular religion or belief.
  • These categories of workers come across different kinds of barriers at work.
  • These may result in either loss of employment or lack of access to employment.
  • The provision of reasonable accommodation plays a major role in addressing these barriers and thus contributes to greater workplace equality, diversity and inclusion.

What is the legal position on this in India?

  • In India, the Rights of People with Disabilities Act, 2016, defines ‘reasonable accommodation’ as “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments, without imposing a disproportionate or undue burden in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise of rights equally with others”.
  • The definition of ‘discrimination’ in Section 2(h) includes ‘denial of reasonable accommodation’.
  • In Section 3, which deals with equality and non-discrimination, sub- section (5) says: “The appropriate Government shall take necessary steps to ensure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.”

-Source: Indian Express

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