14 candidates with disabilities crack Odisha civil services examination

BHUBANESWAR: As many as 14 persons with disabilities cracked the coveted Odisha civil services examination (OCSE)-2020. It includes five visually impaired (two candidates with 100 percent blindness) candidates, three orthopaedic handicapped, four hearing impaired and two candidates with mental illness.
Though one of the candidates Tapati Raj, who has secured rank 10 in the OCSE, is 40 percent visually impaired (VI), she was selected under the unreserved (UR) category. Two among the five VI category candidates, Prachurya Kumar Pradhan and Prasanna Kumar Panda, are 100 percent visually impaired.
Panda, a native of Balugaon in Khurda district, has secured 266 rank in the OCSE. It was his second attempt. He has also appeared for civil services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) but could not get success. This college teacher is presently continuing his PhD on European Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU).
“I will join Odisha civil services and work for the people of the state. The success of PWD candidates in the OCSE will inspire many disability candidates in future,” he added.
The state government is offering four percent reservation in OCSE to persons with disabilities.
A few years ago, visually impaired candidates were not allowed to sit in the OCSE according to clause 8 of the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) rule 1991. This clause was a hurdle for them to get into the administrative services of the state.
Sannyas Kumar Behera, president of Odisha Association for Blind, had challenged the rule in the State Administrative Tribunal in 2006, but it couldn’t be listed for hearing. Later he filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Orissa High Court on December 22, 2011, in this matter. The court in 2014 passed the judgment in favour of them.
“Later the OPSC mentioned in its 2015 advertisement for OCS examination that completely (100 per cent) visually impaired persons can’t take part in the examination. We had requested the state government to amend the notification. Finally, the OPSC had modified the rule and allowed us to sit in the OCSE,” said Behera, who is working as an OAS officer in the state government.
Behera, who is 100 percent visually impaired, had received 220 rank in the OCSE examination results of which was published on February 16, 2017. “The long legal battle yielded good results and many VI category candidates have entered into Odisha civil services so far. They will set an example for other PWD candidates who are preparing for the coveted examination,” he added.