“My appointment will pave way for other specially abled lawyers”

Govind Sharma
Advocate Suraj Singh, a visually impaired lawyer practicing in Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Jammu, has proved that efforts made with honesty and determination never go in vain as after facing many obstacles and doing agitations and sitting on hunger strike, he finally got his legal right and has been appointed as Government Advocate in J&K High Court.
He completed his Law Degree from Jammu University in 2008-09 and has been practicing in High Court Jammu for last about 11 years. He remained in news in past about one year for his one-man agitation, protest dharna and hunger strike to seek his legal rights and demanding due representation for specially abled persons in Government assignments.
In an exclusive interview to Excelsior, Advocate Suraj Singh termed his appointment as a “significant move”, towards ensuring equal opportunities of growth and development to specially abled who are integral to societal progress and prosperity. Here are some excerpts of the interview:
Q- After your appointment as Government Advocate, you have become an inspiration for other Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). What do want to say about this?
A-I want to say that if you want to reach somewhere in your life, you need to take steps towards it, mere thinking will not work. You might have to face many obstacles in your journey but if you are determined and hard working, the success will ultimately touch your feet.
Q- There is a lot of struggle in Law profession, then why did you choose it?
A-I wanted to become either a politician or a lawyer but since I couldn’t become a politician, I chose Law as a profession being a Law Degree holder to provide legal services to the society either through Government or private. As of now, I have been appointed as Government Advocate; I will render my legal services to the public through Government.
Q- We have seen that in India, a specially abled child doesn’t get acceptance or moral support from his family and society. Did you feel this in your journey so far?
A-There is a lot of distance between society and specially abled persons and that is why, I had to knock the doors of the Advocate General, Chief Justice of J&K High Court and Secretary Law Department and finally resort to path of agitation to get my legal right. The Government finally felt that the issues and demands raised by me were genuine and thereafter a consensus might have been made to pave way for my appointment as Government Advocate.
Q-With your appointment, a new chapter has been written in J&K history. Don’t you think this appointment could have been done earlier?
A-Of course, this could have been done earlier as this has not happened in India for the 1st time. In 12-13 years of Jyoti Basu’s tenure as Chief Minister of Bengal, completely visually impaired lawyers were appointed as Advocates General. I am happy that now in J&K also, the Government has taken step to ensure due representation for specially abled persons in Government assignments. I hope that in future, J&K Government will also appoint competent specially abled lawyers as Advocates General or Additional Advocates General.
Q-Do you think, new paths have been opened in J&K with your appointment?
A-I had to go on protest twice demanding appointment on Government post, Government accommodation and special recruitment drive for the specially-abled persons and implementation of disability law in J&K. With my appointment, I am hoping that other visually impaired or specially abled persons don’t face trouble like me in the future to get their rights and Government will conduct special recruitment drive for the specially-abled persons.
Q-There are many types of specially abled persons in our society. In your opinion, what Government needs to do for them as despite having many laws with regard to specially abled persons, there is no implementation on ground?
A-In entire J&K, there is not even a single Government Primary School for visually impaired children. I appeal the Government to open at least one such school in the UT so that visually impaired children can get proper education. I also urge the Government to advertise all backlog vacant posts for the disabled persons and recruit people on the basis of merit.