CUTTACK: In a setback to the State Government, the Orissa High Court on Tuesday issued an interim stay on the appointment of Minati Behera as the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Acting on a batch of writ petitions filed by K Ananda, general secretary of Ganjam District Orthopedically Handicapped Welfare Association, and 20 other social workers, disability rights campaigners and PWDs, the single-judge bench of Justice BR Sarangi has also issued notice to the State Government to file its response in the matter by next date of hearing on March 31.
The petitioners had challenged the appointment of Behera on grounds that she was not eligible for the post. She was neither a person with disability nor had any experience of working in the field.
She had been appointed solely on political considerations and her assumption of such a responsible post would be detrimental to the interests of the PWDs, they had alleged.
Behera has been in the eye of a storm over her appointment since April last year. Social activists and PWDs are up in arms against the appointment and have even knocked the doors of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik but in vain. Behera, a social activist, was handpicked by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from the three names recommended by the Search Committee. She was appointed as Commissioner of PWDs, Odisha on April 6, 2014.
Alleging that she did not fulfill the eligibility criteria for the post, the petitioners have sought cancellation of Behera’s appointment.