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SC push to public access for disabled persons 

SC push to public access for disabled persons 

Context

The Supreme Court has come out with a series of directions to ensure that public infrastructure is accessible to differently-abled persons and ordered that the June 2019 deadline set by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 to make all government buildings providing public services made fully accessible to them be strictly adhered to

Bench’s observation

Disposing of a PIL filed by one Rajiv Raturi, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said on Friday,

  • “There cannot be any dispute about the rights of the differently-abled persons, particularly those who have visual impairment with which category we are concerned in the present case, to provide them adequate access to all the facilities on the road as well as convenient access to transport facilities etc. Without these facilities, movement of such persons gets impaired and this can even be treated as infringement of their fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution, which is guaranteed to each and every citizen of this country”

What was the PIL all about?

Petition stated that

  • In order to ensure that this right is exercised by visually disabled persons as well, it becomes the duty of the State and public authorities to lay down proper norms in respect of the built environment and public facilities i.e. roads, buildings, public places, transport (air, land and water) carriages etc.
  • The petitioner had sought adequate access to public places, roads and transport facilities for visually impaired persons

Making government buildings accessible

On the question of making 50 per cent of all government buildings of the national capital and state capitals fully accessible by December 2018, the court found that

  • Although the deadline for identifying the buildings was February 28, 2017, a status report dated August 8, 2017 said that only seven states had identified the buildings
  • Bench’s directions:
    • Accordingly, the bench directed the rest of the states to identify the buildings by February 28, 2018 and added that no further time will be granted
    • The bench directed states to identify 10 most important cities or towns and complete the accessibility audit of 50 per cent of government buildings at these places by February 28, 2018, and complete retrofitting work by December 2019. Regarding Central government buildings, the bench said that the work be completed by August next year
    • The court also directed the government to lay down a plan giving dates by which this task would be undertaken and asked it to furnish the same before it within three months
    • The court has listed the matter for directions after three months on receiving the reports in terms of its order

Referring to 2016 Act

The bench referred to provision of the 2016 Act and said it provides for comprehensive accessibility to disabled persons in all modes of transport. The judgement said

  • “Therefore, it becomes the duty of the Union, states as well as Union Territories to ensure that all government buses are disabled friendly in accordance with the harmonized guidelines,
Categories : Test 1 (5004)
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