Monday, September 25, 2023

Supreme Court seeks Centre's resonse to a plea which sougth quanum of assistance to PwDs 25% higher than those given to others as per section 24(1)

A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on the petition filed by Delhi-based organisation 'Bhumika Trust' and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to respond to a plea which sought that quantum of assistance to persons with disabilities should be 25 per cent higher than those given to others under similar social welfare schemes.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on the petition filed by Delhi-based organisation 'Bhumika Trust' and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.

The bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, requested Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to assist the apex court in the matter.

The top court noted the petitioner has relied on the proviso to section 24 (1) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Section 24 of the 2016 Act deals with social security and section 24 (1) says, "The appropriate government shall within the limit of its economic capacity and development formulate necessary schemes and programmes to safeguard and promote the right of persons with disabilities for adequate standard of living to enable them to live independently or in the community: provided that the quantum of assistance to the persons with disabilities under such schemes and programmes shall be at least 25 per cent higher than the similar schemes applicable to others." Jayant Singh Raghav, president of the organisation, told the bench that proviso to section 24 (1) of the Act provides that quantum to be provided to the persons with disabilities needs to be 25 per cent additional to the others under similar social welfare schemes.

"Which are the schemes in respect of which you are claiming a 25 per cent enhancement," the bench asked.

Raghav referred to the disability pension given by different states.

"Presently, instead of issuing notice to all the states, we will issue notice only to the Union of India and we will then see what the Union Government has to say," the bench said.

Source: Unedited stroy from syndicate feeds

Accessibility in residential societies remains a matter of concern; petitioner, a blind person litigates to seek justice.

Court: Delhi High Court 

Bench: Hon'ble Justice V. KAMESWAR RAO,  Hon'ble Justice ANOOP KUMAR MENDIRATTA

Case No.: WP (Civil) No. 7642/2022

Case TitleJayant Singh Raghav v Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority, & Ors.

Next Date of Hearing06/10/2023

Case Brief:

The petitioner Jayant Singh Raghav, is a person with a disability has raised this litigation alleging rights infringement of individuals with disabilities in accessing suitable facilities within residential communities against the Chandanwari Society (a residential housing society) with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) as the resondents. 

The petitioner emphasizes what he perceives as a violation of the rights of persons with disabilities to access appropriate facilities within residential communities. He contends that the environment lacks provisions tailored to his specific needs, obstructs equal opportunities, and disrupts harmonious communal living.

In response, the Chandanwari Society, represented by the respondents, counters these claims by asserting their consistent efforts to ensure unimpeded accessibility for the petitioner. The Society argues that it has taken substantial measures to establish a barrier-free environment within the apartment complex.

Before approaching the high court, petitioner had lodged a complaint with the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Government of NCT of Delhi, citing the society's perceived inaction. The complaint pointed out a violation of Rule-15 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rule, 2017. A subsequent directive highlighted shortcomings and mandated rectifications. However, the complaint was closed without comprehensive justification by passing an order.

Unsatisfied with the complaint's closure, the petitioner turned to the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, filing a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The grounds for the petition include alleged breaches of fundamental rights under Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner also raised concerns about non-compliance with the "Harmonized Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-free Built Environment for Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons" 2016.

Differing viewpoints emerged regarding the application of the Unified Bye-Laws where the petitioner contends that the society's layout and infrastructure do not conform to the Unified Bye-Laws, 2016. However, the respondents assert that the apartment complex was constructed under the Unified Bye-Laws, 1983, making substantial reconstruction impractical after 33 years. Despite this, the respondents assert their ongoing commitment to enhance accessibility within existing structural constraints.

Mr. Raghav is critical of the changes implemented by the society, suggesting that they are cosmetic and, in some cases, potentially hazardous to disabled individuals. He expresses concerns over the safety and effectiveness of the alterations, arguing that hurried modifications might inadvertently lead to harm.

Throughout the legal process, the petitioner filed various ancillary applications alongside the primary writ petition, including inter-locutary application, early hearing application, and urgent application.

The petitioner further claims that the modifications initiated by the respondents are confined to Tower-3 of the society, where he resides. However, he contends that the issue extends beyond his personal access to encompass the entire society. He emphasizes that the concern is not solely about Common area accessibility of the block where the petitioner resides but pertains to the community's overall inclusion.

In conclusion, the case underscores the intricate interplay between an individual with disabilities striving for equitable access and a residential society working within practical limitations to achieve accessibility standards. The legal journey encompasses a range of stages, from pre-court complaints to constitutional writ petitions, highlighting the petitioner's pursuit of enforcing rights. Consequently, the petitioner has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before The Hon’ble Supreme Court seeking an expedited grant of the interim relief as prayed for.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Forced to climb staircase at the theatre, disabled man files complaint in consumer forum citing lack of accessibility, theatre directed to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation

Dear colleagues,

An inaccessible cinema theatre, which had neither elevators nor ramps despite the provisions of RPWD Act 2016 mandating accessibility in public spaces, and made a person with a disability climb the staircase to watch actor Udhayanidhi's 'Nenjukku Neethi' movie, has been asked to pay ₹1 lakh as compensation to the aggrieved person. 

The Thiruvallur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum passed the order based on a complaint from S Sureshkumar of Kundrathur. He complained that he went to Gokulam Cinemas in Poonamallee to watch 'Nenjukku Neethi' in May 2022, but realised on entering the premises that the screen was on the second floor, and yet it had no lifts or ramps. 

The theatre employees told Suresh that he had to climb the staircase due to which he suffered severe leg pain the same day, said Suresh, who has locomotor disability of 60%. He alleged that Gokulam Cinemas had violated Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 by not providing lifts or ramps in the newly built complex and the district collector too was at fault for having issued licence to the theatre hall without proper inspection as required under section 44 of the Act of 2016.

In response, Gokulam Cinemas said Suresh was not on their premises on the said date to watch the movie and he was trying to mislead the court with a ticket borrowed from another person. Counsel for the theatre argued that work to install lifts could not be completed due to Covid-19 pandemic. 

The forum rejected the management's argument, saying: "The contention could not be entertained as Covid-19 effects came to an end two years ago." It directed the theatre to pay ₹1 lakh as compensation for the mental agony and hardship caused, and another ₹10,000 towards Suresh's litigation expenses. The Thiruvallur district collector has been directed to take necessary action against the theatre within four weeks.

More such cases are on the anvil as the timelines for implementing mandatory accessibility is over. Those who have been sleeping over the accessibiltiy mandate are waking up to such music.  Its high time that the establishments must get their buildings and services access audited and take remedial action. Its better late than never!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Delhi HC summons Health Secretary, says it is unfortunate that permanent State Mental Health Authority not constituted till date.

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Hon'ble Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon'ble Justice Sanjeev Narula 

Case No: W.P.(C) 6952/2019 & tagged case: W.P.(C) 4468/2021

Case Title:  Amit Sahni Vs. Govt of NCT of Dellhi & Ors  and tagged case- Shreyus Sukhija Vs. Govt. of NCT of Dlehi & Ors.

Act: Mental Healthcare Act 2017

Date of Order: 02 Aug 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 15.09.2023


Observing that it is unfortunate that the permanent State Mental Health Authority under Mental Health Act, 2017, has not been constituted till date in the national capital, the Delhi High Court has asked Delhi Government’s Health Secretary to remain present before it on September 15, 2023.

“It is made clear that in case the permanent State Mental Health Authority is constituted as per the requirement of Sections 45 & 46 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, the personal appearance of the Secretary (Health), GNCTD, shall be dispensed with without further reference to the Court,” the division bench said in its order dated 02 Aug 2023.

The bench also directed the Delhi Government to comply with the statutory provisions under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and the Mental Healthcare (State Mental Health Authority) Rules, 2018, including constitution of district mental health authorities.

In November 2022, the court was informed by Delhi government’s counsel that the process for reconstitution of State Mental Health Authority is underway and shall be finalised soon. However, since the same was not done, the court made the above observations.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Advocate Amit Sahni seeking effective implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. It is his case that the lack of mental health authorities is adversely affecting the treatment of mentally ill persons.

Another plea tagged with the PIL has been moved by man seeking reconstitution of the State Mental Health Authority and also for setting up of Mental Health Review Boards as provided under the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

Read the Order below:

Monday, July 31, 2023

Bombay HC threatens contempt proceedings if State didn't provide information about implementation of 5% reservation in land allotmment to persons with disabilities at concessional rates under RPWD Act.

Court: Bombay High Court 

Bench: Hon'ble Justice Gautam Patel and Hon'ble Justice Neela Gokhale

Case No.: Writ Petition No. 583 of 2020

Case Title: Rajendra Petrus Lalzare Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

Date of Order: 31 July 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 21 Aug 2023

Case Brief:

The Bombay High Court has issued a stern warning to the Maharashtra government for its failure to provide a meaningful response to the court's query regarding the implementation of a 5 per cent reservation in land allotment at concessional rates for disabled persons under the Disabilities Act. The court has threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against government officials if a proper reply is not filed.

The bench expressed, "This is the most shameful state of affairs. We are not even on the merits of the Petition, but only on the failure of the Government to furnish a meaningful response."

The case was brought before the bench by petitioner seeking the enforcement of Section 37 (c) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. This provision mandates that the government should create schemes favoring disabled individuals and allocate 5 per cent reservation in the allotment of land at concessional rates for various purposes, including housing, shelter, occupation, business, and recreation centers.

The petition was filed in 2020, and since then, it has been listed for periodic hearings. However, on every occasion, the government has sought adjournments to submit its affidavit, resulting in delays. In June 2022, an additional government pleader orally informed the court about the government's contemplation of issuing general directions to reserve 5 per cent of land for persons with disabilities. Despite this assurance, the government has not taken the necessary action.

The bench pointed out that the government's response, citing the Maharashtra Land Disposal Rules, did not address the court's specific query. The court emphasised the government's obligation to file a proper affidavit outlining the steps taken under Section 37 (c) of the Disabilities Act.

The bench said, "Now we are making it clear that while we are accommodating the learned AGP on personal grounds, we will not grant further time on the next date under any circumstances. If the Affidavit that is said to be filed in purported or ostensible compliance with orders of this Court does not answer the question of steps taken under Section 37(c) of the Disabilities Act, we are putting all concerned in the Government to notice that we will have no choice but to proceed against those officers, if necessary, in suo moto contempt for disobedience of orders of this Court. If the matter is being stood over by two weeks to accommodate the learned AGP, that time should be better utilised to make amends and to clarify the stand of the Government in accordance with the orders of this Court."

The court has granted the state government a final opportunity to file a meaningful response and set the next hearing for August 21, 2023. If the government fails to comply with this directive, the court warned that it may take suo motu contempt action against the responsible officers for disobeying its orders.

Read the Court Order below:

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Bombay HC- RBI says it is aware of concerns of visually impaired but issueing new banknotes a huge task (Ongoing matter)

Court: Bombay High Court (Mumbai)

Bench: Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice Shri Nitin Jamdar and Mr. Jusitce Shri Arif S. Doctor

Case No.: PIL/13/2019 (Original) [Previous references: WP lodging No. 2038 of 2016, WP No. 2420 of 2017]

Case Title: National Association for the Blind (India) Vs. Reserve Bank of India and 2 Others.

Subject:  Inaccessibility of bank notes and coins to blind and visually impaired.

Date of Order: 19 July 2023

Earlier Order: 28 June 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 11 October 2023

Case Brief:

The Reserve Bank of India in an affidavit tells the the Bombay High Court bench that while it acknowledges the concerns of visually impaired persons regarding identification of currencies, introducing new banknotes was a monumental task that is extremely complicated and time-consuming process extending over a period of 6-7 years and also entails heavy expenditure.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition by the National Association ofthe Blind (NAB), claiming new currency notes and coins issued by the central bank posed difficulty for visually-impaired people in identifying and distinguishing them.

The affidavit said the process adopted before introducing new series of banknotes involves multiple considerations, including incorporation of visually impaired-friendly features, security, and design features to make them counterfeit deterrent.

"The RBI is aware of and acknowledges the concerns of the visually impaired persons regarding identification of banknotes. The work on the next series of banknotes has been underway since 2017," it said.

"Introducing a new series of banknotes is a monumental task. This has to be thought through carefully because having multiple series of banknotes of different sizes and features of the same denomination would cause more confusion than resolve the problem," the affidavit noted.

The central bank pointed out that the expenditure that would be incurred in introducing a new series of currencies would be high. The affidavit said the annual expenditure towards security printing was pegged at Rs 4,682 crore.

"This annual amount was not for introducing a new series but merely for printing notes to replace old, soiled, damaged notes and to meet the incremental demand of banknotes," it said.

The cost of introducing a new series of banknotes will be much higher and will include expenditure towards adaptation of paper production, printing machines and the entire currency dispensation and processing eco-system to any proposed changes, the document said.

The RBI urged the HC to dismiss the NAB's petition with cost claiming it has taken all necessary steps in studying the grievance highlighted in the plea and was examining the matter with due seriousness.

On Wednesday, NAB advocate Uday Warunjikar sought the court to not dispose of the plea and said the RBI has not made a positive statement in its affidavit.

RBI counsel Venkatesh Dhond said the petitioner has a unipolar thought but the central bank has to consider several points. Dhond sought further time from the HC for the banking regulator to consider the issue. The division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Jamdar then posted the matter for further hearing after 12 weeks.

The RBI affidavit pointed out that central banks across the world generally change the design of banknotes and introduce new security features once in a decade primarily to make counterfeiting difficult.

The RBI also follows the same policy but the periodicity is not fixed and is dependent upon several factors such as number and quality of counterfeit notes detected, existence of other perceived threats to the security of the national currency and changes in national policies, it said.

The affidavit maintained the last time a series of banknotes were introduced was in 2016 and this was preceded by an elaborate process of consultation among various stakeholders.

"This process included the constitution of a design committee in 2010 comprising field experts to make recommendations on the design/size of the new series of banknotes, including making them sensitive to the requirements of the differently abled persons," it said.

"Considering the needs of the visually impaired persons, features such as intaglio, identification marks, bleed lines and so on have been included in the banknotes in addition to the difference in size of various denominations though the same were reduced from the earlier series to make them aligned with international norms and to make them more wallet friendly," the RBI said.

The process also involves taking feedback from representatives of two national-level associations of visually impaired and to "the extent feasible, their concerns will be factored in the next series of banknotes", said the affidavit.

Read the Order dated 19 July 2023 below:

Monday, July 17, 2023

Supreme Court directs appointment of independent Disability Commissioners in all states by 31 Aug 2023

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud ; Mr. Justice PS Narasimha and Mr. Justice Manoj Misra 

Case Title: Seema Girija Lal And Anr. v. Union of India And Ors. 

Case No.: Writ Petition (Civil) Diary No(s). 29329/2021 

Date of Order:  17 Jul 2023 

Previous Order: 13 Jan 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 18 Sep 2023


Please refer to the brief write up on the previous order passed by the court dated 13 Jan 2023 in this PIL seeking the formation of district-level committees to enforce the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, when the Hon'ble supreme court was pleased to issue a notice, without even admitting it or the registry allocating it a Writ petition number.  The petition stated that India’s basic infrastructure to meet the needs of its nearly 3 crore persons with disabilities is 'visibly absent', and that the top court should take judicial notice of this concern. 

The bench had then specifically passed the following order:

"We direct that notice shall be issued to Union of India and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The Ministry shall file counter affidavit within a period of a month. The affidavit shall indicate state wise the implementation. Union of India shall convene a meeting with all concerned states and state advisory boards with a view to eliciting the present status of compliance. We request Ms. Divan, ASG to assist. At this stage we're not issuing notice to state govts. Based on affidavits, we'll decide."

During the hearing on 17 July 2023, the Chief Justice expressed the concern that the current state of implementation of the RPWD Act 2016 revealed a distressing situation throughout the country. 

Pertinently, the bench noted that disability commissioners were entrusted with several statutory duties under Section 75 and Section 80G of Act. However, a report before the Court indicated that several States and Union Territories had failed to appoint such independent commissioners as required under Section 79 of the Act. And thus it direted the appointment of such commissioners by August 31, 2023.

The Court further ordered the concerned Union Ministry to coordinated with the relevant ministry of all State governments to file an updated affidavit by September 17. The States were asked to upload relevant details on the dashboard of the Central government.

The matter has now been listed for further hearing on September 18, 2023.

Read the Order dated 17 July 2023 below:

Monday, July 10, 2023

Karnataka HC- During the exam, facility of Scribe and Option of objective type questions can be availed by other disabilities too, not just by candidates with hearing impairment.

Court: Karnataka High Court, India

Bench: The Hon'ble Mr. Prasanna B. Varale, Chief Justice and The Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.G.S. Kamal

Case No: Writ Appeal No. 722 OF 2023 

Case Title: Karnataka State Law University Vs.  Krishna

Date of Judgement: 10-07-2023


The Karnataka High Court dismissed an appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University challenging a single bench order directing it to conduct III Semester exam for a differently abled Law student, by providing objective type of questions instead of descriptive type of questions.

It said that the overall object of the MSJE Exam Guidelines for persons with disabilities  needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system and that there is no stringent distinction based on the nature of disability in Exam Guidelines for alternative objective exam for students with disabilities.

Krishna, having 46% overall impairment affecting both brain and eyes, is pursuing his five years integrated law degree at Vaikunta Baliga Law College. Since he was unable to write by hand as such for the I Semester exam he utilized the facility of scribe. He was, however, informed by the college that unless permission was granted by the University, it cannot permit him to take the help of a scribe for examinations in future.

Accordingly, he made a representation to the appellant-University requesting for objective questions instead of descriptive questions and to utilize the help of a scribe in view of his disability. However, no action was taken on the representation constraining him to file a writ petition before the High Court.

The Court disposed of his petition while directing the University to consider the grievance and pass appropriate orders. Following which the University partly allowed the representation and rejected the request to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

Thus the student again approached the Court which took note of the relevant guidelines issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) making provision for providing objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the disabled students. Court declined to accept the contention of the appellant-University that the provision is applicable only to the students having hearing impairment.

It held, “Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 `persons with bench mark disability’ means person with not less than 40% of specified disability, where specified disability has not been defined in measurable terms and includes a person with disability where specified disability has been defined in measurable terms as certified by the certifying authority."

Further, it directed the University to subject the student to medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

The University in appeal argued that as per the guidelines, alternative objective questions can be provided only for those students who are are person with hearing impairment and not to persons  from any other disabilities. In the instant case since the student is not a person with hearing impairment but with a visual impairment and mental retardation, it contended that the benefit of the aforesaid provision cannot be extended. It was also submitted that since the student is suffering from mental retardation, objective questions which requires reasoning and intellectual skill cannot be provided.

A division bench said, “The overall object of the guidelines needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system. There cannot be any strict and stringent distinction on the basis of the nature of ailment. The purpose is to facilitate the specially abled persons to participate in the examination within the limits provided under the guidelines subject to required compliance in the nature of obtaining certificates from the competent authorities"

It added “Viewed from the said object, learned Single Judge taking note of the provisions describing persons with disability as provided under Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has directed the appellant-University to subject the respondent for medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and only if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the respondent in the ensuing examination.”

Accordingly the bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University. Read the Judgement below:

Kerala HC- Invokes parens patriae, directs district administration and local institution to handover the daughter with autism to mother

Court: Kerala High Court, India

Bench: Honourable Mr. Justice P.B.Suresh Kumar & the honourable Mrs. Justice C.S. Sudha

Case Title: Santha Kumari v. State of Kerala & Ors. 

Case Number: WP(CRL.) NO. 296 OF 2023

Date of Judgement: 10 July 2023

Act Referred: National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999


No one else can give to the ward all that a mother can give to her, said the Kerala High Court while uniting a differently abled child with her mother.

Invoking parens patriae jurisdiction to ensure that the child is not left "at the mercy of others, a Division Bench of Kerala HC, ordered the girl child with autism be united with her mother instead of being in an institution after the death of father.

The crux of the case is that the petitioner-mother was living separately from her husband after the birth of the child in question. The child resided with the father who obtained an order under Section 14 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (hereinafter, 'Act, 1999'), appointing him as the guardian of the ward and his second wife (6th respondent) as the alternative guardian.

After his death, the petitioner sought the child's custody who was meanwhile handed over to the Grace Home Charitable Society (5th respondent) by the local authorities. The 5th respondent insisted on concurrence of the District Administration and the Gram Panchayat however, the same was refused. Hence this petition was filed.

Court observed that Section 14 does not affect in any manner, the rights of the parents of persons with disability to take care of their dependent children with disabilities, if they are not otherwise disqualified. The Court thus directed the petitioner to submit an affidavit as to whether she would be in a position to care for the ward. Ultimately, finding the petitioner fit, the Court ordered that the child be handed over to her.

Read the Judgement below:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Orissa HC issues contempt notice to Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri on lack of accessibility and dignified access to devotees with disabiliites

Court:  High Court of Orissa at Cuttack

Bench: Hon'ble Justice Biswanath Rath

Case No: CONTC NO.3478 OF 2023 

Arising from Case:   W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 decided on 28.02.2022

Case Title:  Jitendra Kumar Biswal  versus Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri & Ors. 

Date of Order/Contempt Notice: 07.07.2023


A prominent disability right activist and a wheelchair user himself filed a second contempt petition in Orissa High Court following State government’s failure to provide accessible facilities for disabled particularly wheelchair user devotee's access to 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, despite the court twice ordering to do so.

The issue was first raised by the present petitioner Jitendra Kumar Biswal (50), a resident of Bhubaneswar, a person with disability and also a disability rights activist, who filed a PIL seeking judicial intervention for facilitating the free movement of devotees who are wheelchair users, within the temple complex in January 2022. 

While disposing of the petition on February 28, 2022, the Hight Court had said, “In view of the urgency involved in this matter and as a decision in the matter is required to be taken by the administrative authority at the first hand, this court directs that Shree Jagannath Temple Committee and chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple to collectively take a lawful decision in the matter by treating the petition as a representation at the instance of the petitioner.”

However, Biswal filed a contempt petition when the order was not complied with. Acting on it, the HC on December 20 last year said, “Considering this is the first contempt petition, this court disposes of the same directing all the contemnors (chairman of temple managing committee, chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple and collector, Puri) to work out the February 28, 2022 direction of this court in the disposal of the petition/representation at least within a further period of one month.”.

But petitioner was forced to file a fresh (second) contempt petition. The petitioner expects authorities to make designated space within the inner sanctum of Jagannath Temple for wheelchair-using devotees to offer their prayers and to have a clear view of the three deities. He also expected the authorities to make other provisions that may be required within the temple complex for the free movement of wheelchair-using devotees. 

During March 2023, there were media reports that the Temple Administration were proposing to provide special services. According to the proposal, the PwD devotees will be carried to the sanctum sanctorum by volunteers on their back just like it is done by ‘pithoos’ at Amarnath and Vaishno Devi temples. Around 30 devotees will be taken inside the temple through the existing ramp at the north gate (Uttara Dwara) of the shrine every day.

As per the preliminary proposal, the PwD visitors will have to book their visit to the temple through a dedicated portal and produce a 100 per cent disability certificate before entry. They can be accompanied by one family member. At the Uttara Dwara, a reception centre with a bathroom has been proposed to be set up where the devotees can wait for their turn.  

It was reported that the sevayats have agreed that such devotees can be provided a special darshan from 2 pm to 4 pm after the Bhoga mandapa rituals are over and when entry of general devotees is closed.

It was proposed that from the Uttara Dwara, the PwD visitors will be carried to Jay Bijaya Dwara through Ghanti Dwara for ‘darshan’ and brought back through the same route. For this purpose, the Suara and Maha Suara servitors can be roped in as they have experience of carrying head loads of bhoga in the temple. A devotee can re-book a visit to the temple only after two months of the first visit. However, these proposals have not found favour with the usergroups since this doesn't address the accessibility of the place and engages in to practices of physically lifting devotees with disabilities as sac of patotoes compromising with their dignity, respect and equal right to worship.

The contempt petition is against the following as named contemnors:-  

1) Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singha Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
2) Ranjan Kumar Dash, Chief Administrator Puri, Jagannath Temple Puri.
3) Samarth Verma, The Collector, Puri.

The petition alleges violation of this Court’s direction in disposal of W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 on 28.02.2022. There is serious allegation that more than one year has passed in the meanwhile and there is no compliance to the direction of this Court in the above writ petition.

"This Court hopes and trusts that by the next date of posting of the matter, there shall be arrangement for removing the inconvenience faced by the senior citizen or the handicapped people in having their visiting and observing the deities in the Lord Jagannath temple." says the order issuing contempt notice.

Below is the copy of the order:

In a tweet, the petitioner Mr. Jitendra Kumar Biswal, expressed his hope in following terms: 

Here is the Order disposing off the original writ petition W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 filed by same petitioner in 28 Feb 2022.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Supreme Court to RBI : Section 33 of PWD Act 1995 provides statutorily conferred right to reservation in promotional appointment in Group A to the disabled.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench:  Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dipankar Datta & Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

Case No. : Civil Appeal Nos.529 OF 2023, 

Case title: Reserve Bank of India Vs. A.K. Nair & Ors.

Date of Judgement: 04 July 2023

Cases referred/relied upon: 

1. Rajeev Kumar Gupta and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors

2. Siddaraju vs. State of Karnataka and Ors

3. State of Kerala and Ors. vs. Leesamma Joseph.

Brief of the Case

Invoking its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to retrospectively extend the benefit of reservation in promotions to an employee with physical disability (post-polio limb paralysis). 

The Court held that the employee had a statutory right to claim reservation even in promotion towards the appointment in Class I posts, as per Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

However, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, in a concurring opinion, also cautioned that reservations in promotions cannot be unduly extended to others entitled to horizontal reservations (like reservations for women, transgender persons etc.), just because persons with disabilities have been given such reservations.

"That persons with disabilities need to be accommodated, in public service, is a given. At the same time, this reasonable accommodation ought not to open gates for demands by those benefitting other kinds of horizontal reservation, for reservation in promotional vacancies in public services," Justice Bhat observed.

"It was not the intention of Article 16 of the Constitution to compromise on administrative inefficiency by culling the spirit of competition - after all, positions gained by promotions taper higher up. To ear-mark a certain portion to one class of citizens, and not others, who may have also gained initial appointments on the strength of such horizontality (such as women, retired / ex-servicemen, etc.) is not constitutionally protected – the only exception to reservations in promotions is SC / ST appointees, as provided under Article 16(4A)," the judgment stated.

The petitoner in this case, Mr. AK Nair, a Coin Manager at the RBI had appeared for the All India Merit Test in 2003 for promotion to a Class I post, but had fallen short of qualifying by three marks in general category list. His representations seeking relaxation in the same on account of his disability didn't find favour. Interestingly, the posts in question had the same cut-off, at the time, for both the general category candidates and candidates with disabilities.

In 2014, the Bombay High Court held that the RBI was required to provide reservations in promotion for candidates with disabilities on a horizontal basis with effect from 2006. However, the High Court did not give any relief to Nair, leading to the appeal before the Supreme Court.

"We have no doubt that Mr. Nair did have a statutorily conferred right all through to claim that reservation in promotional appointment in Group ‘A’ posts is ingrained in the PwD Act, 1995 ... The omission or failure of the RBI in condoning the shortfall in marks coupled with the neglect to identify a Group ‘A’ post suitable for reservation to accommodate Mr. Nair on promotion appears to us to be indefensible." expressed the Bench while allowing the appeal of Mr. Nair. 

In the opinion authored by Justice Datta, the Court also criticised the RBI for its rigid approach in deciding the employee's claim. "Even otherwise, to reach out to persons with disabilities and grant them the facilities and benefits that the PwD Act, 1995 envisaged, it was rather harsh to apply standards which are applicable to general candidates to Mr. Nair while he competed with such general candidates for securing his promotion. RBI, as a model employer, ought to have taken an informed decision in this regard commensurate with the aspirations of persons with disabilities."

The Court has granted the RBI four months time to complete the requisite formalities to release the monetary benefits due to Nair. The bench also clarified that when Nair retires in 2025, his retiral benefits should be computed taking into account the Court's ruling that his promotion should be recognised retrospectively.

Read the judgement: 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Madras HC Directs Authorities To Exempt GST, Toll Tax For Car Purchased By Visually Impaired Buyer

Court: Madras High Court (Madurai Bench), India

Bench: Justice PT Asha

Case No: W.P.(MD) Nos.12955 and 13043 of 2023 and W.M.P.(MD) No.11040 of 2023

Caste Title (Lead case): Carunia Seelavathi Vs. The Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Department of Transport & Others

Date of Order/Judgement:  26 June 2023


While dealing with a case of denial of Concessions in GST, Road Tox, Toll Tax etc to a person with vision impairment, the Madras High Court directed authorities to grant exemption from the motor vehicle tax as well as the GST to a visually impaired person in respect of the car purchased by her.

The bench took note of the recommendations made by the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to Department of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance for amendments to their rules to give concession with reference to GST, Road Tax, Toll Tax etc to the visually impaired persons.

The court was dealing with a plea filed by Ms. Carunia Seelavathi, who is has 100% visual impairment and brought a car for her own use. She is dependent upon a third person for her travel. It was submitted that her request for tax exemption under the Government Order dated 29.12.1976 and the order of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) was rejected by the authorities on the ground that the vehicle used by her would not undergo any changes in the form which was the basis for exemption.

In December 1976, the Government of Tamil Nadu Home (Transport -T) Department issued a notification exempting payment of tax on all motor vehicles specially designed or adapted for the use of physically handicapped persons, provided the adapted vehicles are used by physically handicapped persons only.

The court, considering the recommendation by the Commissioner, and taking into account the fact that visually impaired persons are now having more job opportunities and face challenges in commute, opined that such an exemption could be granted to the petitioner as well.

Considering the recommendation of the Commission, which is a Commission specifically established for the persons with disabilities under the RPWD Act and taking into consideration the fact that today the visually challenged persons are having more opportunities of employment even in the Government sector and their commuting to the place of work becomes challenging, this Court is of the opinion that the exemption has to be granted to the petitioner and accordingly, the Writ Petitions are allowed,” the court held.

The court thus directed the authorities to ensure that necessary orders exempting the petitioner from motor vehicle tax and GST are passed within a period of four weeks.

Access the Judgement 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A medical student knocks the doors of Himachal Pradesh high court against accessibility barriers in Medical college

Despite winning her MBBS seat after the High Court's intervention, Ms. Nikita Choudhary, a first-year student of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda continues to brave ordeals of inaccesssibility at the college campus. Nikita who is also a wheelchair user and has 78% disability, has written to the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, highlighting various difficulties being faced by her.

Highlighting the absence of accesssible infrastructure for wheelchair users, she has written about absence of ramps in the academic, para-clinic blocks, library and auditorium. The elevators installed in these blocks often go out of order and she has to sometimes miss classes due to that reason.

In the year 2022, she was denied admission  by the college referring to the MCI rules that a student with 78 per cent disability could not be enrolled for the course. But after the intervention by the High Court, she secured her hard earned seat.   In her letter to the Chief Justice, she has stated that since her admission, she has never entered the college library and auditorium. Even the para-clinic and washrooms are also not accessible to her.

Her repeated requests to the engineering staff to repair the elevators have fallen on deaf ears. Even her request for the allotment of cubical accommodation in the college hostel was also denied. She said she needed an attendant to assist her always. It was not possible for her to live in a dormitory without an attendant. Now she had rented a room outside.

As per court order, she said, physically disabled students were entitled to free education up to university level. However, she was forced to pay the admission fee, which had not been refunded to her so far.

A senior officer of the medical college said they were aware of the problems being faced by Nikita. He said, “Lifts sometimes go out of order due to technical glitch or power failures. The college will extend all possible help to her.”

We will keep you posted on this case.... 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Court of CCPD directs Paytm (One 97 Communications) to prepare a roadmap to make existing features accessible and conduct an access audit

Court: Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India

Bench: Ms. Upma Srivastava, CCPD

Case No: 13392/1141/2022

Case Title: Amar Jain Vs. MeitY, One 97 comunications Ltd & ors.

Date of Judgement : 31 May 2023


In an order passed on 31.05.2023 by the Court of Hon'ble Chief Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities, Paytm has been asked to prepare a roadmap to make its existing features accessible, conduct an accessibility audit, and ensure that role-out of all new features have accessibility embedded for all categories of persons with disabilities.

Paytm being a private service provider is also governed by the mandatory requirements of accessibility. This is very positive and forward looking order since the Court of  CCPD has asked the service provider to conduct an accessibility audit and also remediate the existing & future issues. 

The court passed the following recommendations:

"That the Respondent No, 2 (Paytm) shall conduct a meeting with the Complainant to identify the issues relating to accessibility in newly added features. Further, the Respondent No. 2 shall also conduct accessibility audit of its app to identify issues relating to accessibility. Thereafter the Respondent No. 2 shall prepare a roadmap to address two issues, i.e. accessibility of existing features of the app and plan to ensure that all new features which will be added in future are accessible for divyangjan of all categories, right from the first day of roll out. 

That the whole exercise shall be completed by the Respondent No. 2 (Paytm) within 3 months of receiving the copy of this Order and in case the Complainant is not satisfied with the steps taken or the roadmap prepared by the Respondent No.2, the Complainant shall be at liberty to approach this Court again."

Read the order:

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Court of CCPD directs the Ola Cabs to make their app accessible to all users and allow independent and dignified use of app.

Court: Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India

Bench: Mr. P. P. Ambashta, Dy CCPD

Case No: 13532 /1102/ 2022 / 159384

Case Title: Amar Jain Vs. Ani Technologies Private Limited (Ola Cabs)

Date of  Reccord of Proceeding (ToP): 31 May 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 04.07.2023


The complainant challenged the inaccessibility of OLA Appplication. 

This Court sided with the preliminary observations made by the Complainant that addressing all the cccessibility chalenges in the  OLA app will take some time and thus some interim arrangements are to be made. 

The Court thus recommended that the Respondent shall make features such as pickup & drop location and driver information accessible for Persons with Disabilities within 4 weeks from the date of this Order, so that Persons with Disabilities become able to make these inputs without assistance of any other person.

The Court also recommended that within 4 weeks from the date of the Record of Proceedings (RoP). the Respondent shall conduct meeting with the Complainant and identily issues relating to accessibility of app and prepare a roadmap for making all features of the app accessible for Persons with Disabilities.

The court  further expressed that considering the continuous nature of the Complaint, this Court decides that hearing shall be conducted again in the present Complaint. The Respondent is directed to inform this Court about the compliance of above two recommendations during next hearing which shall be conducted on 04.07.2023.

This is also a good practice being followed by the Court to keep the matters live until substantial actions have been taken by the respondent to remediate the wrongs and thus is worthy of mention.

Read the Order embedded below:

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

DHC seeks UOI's stand on a PIL seeking direction to enhance effective access for persons with vision impairments by placing QR Codes on Medicines, Food Products, Cosmetics & other Consumer products .

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Hon'ble Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon'ble Justice Subramonium Prasad. 

Case No: W.P.(C) 5985/2023 

Case Title: The Kapila and Nirmal Shweta Hingorani Foundation & Ors  Vs. Union of India & ors.

Date of Hearing : 09 May 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 16 Aug 2023


In a PIL moved by The Kapila & Nirmal Hingorani Foundation, a public charitable trust and two visually impaired Delhi University professors, a division bench of  Delhi HC issued notice to the Centre through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

The PIL seeks to secure effective access for visually impaired persons to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products which is also a mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, (RPwD Act 2016) whcih specifically provides for (i) measures/ schemes/ programmes to promote their healthcare (ii) standards of accessibility for information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas and (iii) measures to promote development, production and distribution of universally designed consumer products and accessories for general use for persons with disabilities among other rights.

The PIL submitted that visually impaired people face immense difficulties in taking medicines and they feel the shape and size of tablets and do not even have the benefit of differentiating drugs based on colour. Due to a lack of accessible information, visually impaired people may take wrong medicines, leading to major health problems, adverse reactions and even loss of life.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the petitioners Dr. Smriti Singh, associate professor (English) at Maitreyi College; and Shobhan Singh, senior assistant professor (History) Zakir Hussain PG Evening College, who are visually impaired, went through a horrible time, desperate for help and information, in absence of accessibility of medicines and food products.

The plea highlights that the scope for utilising the capabilities of smartphones with QR codes to help visually impaired persons identify products and access all relevant product information is huge. It referenced newsreports that India had 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in 2021, of which about 750 million were smartphone users. Furthermore, the number of smartphone users was expected to increase to 1 billion by 2026, with rural areas driving the sale of internet-enabled phones, which in turn were set to get a push with the government’s plan to fiberise all villages by 2025 under the BharatNet Programme.

The petitioners had sent a representation in December 2021 and a follow-up in February 2022 to the Prime Minister of India and another representation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on February 21, 2022 which is yet to be responded.

The representation of the petitioners urged that all medicine manufacturers be directed to affix QR code on each tablet (or at the very least between two tablets) at the back of the strip so that a smartphone with accessibility feature could then scan the QR code with its stored data or information about the particular medicine, and decode it to convert the text to speech format of the application.

The PIL claimed that petitioners, on learning that some medicines in the market did have QR Codes (without full information/details of the medicine), also made follow-up representations. The plea stated that employing QR Codes in the manner suggested in the representations would increase the efficacy of medical care for visually impaired patients by reducing medication errors, incorrect dosages, unintended drug interactions and side effects.

The PIL has asserted that the continued lack of effective access to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products constitutes a “denial of the constitutional rights of visually impaired persons under Article 21 of the Constitution” as well as their “statutory rights” under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.  The PIL has sought directions to the concerned authorities to secure effective access for visually impaired persons to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products and towards this end, to take comprehensive measures and adopt comprehensive guidelines on affixing QR Codes on such products.

Matter will be next listed on 16 Aug 2023.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Bombay HC directs BMC to consider use of technology (elevators etc) for all skywalks to make them friendly to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. [Judgemnet included]

Court: Bombay High Court

Bench: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Girish Kulkarni and Hon'ble Mr. Justice R N Laddha. 

Case No. : WP/771/2023 [Original]

Case Title: K.P. Purushothamna Nair of Mumbai VS.  Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai

Date of Judgement: 24 April 2023

Subject: Safe and Acessible Pavements / Pedestrian Facilities, Accessibility of Skywalk to persons with disabilities and senior citizens. 


On a petition by an HC staff-turned-lawyer K P P Nair, a Bandra resident, the BMC has been directed by the Bombay HC to install mechanical walkways and elevators at both ends of skywalks to help the senior citizens and persons with disabilities in commuting every day. It also ordered that in future, in all skywalks, the BMC must consider the use of technology to make these more sturdy and beneficial for all commuters.

The petiton raised important questions of accesssibilty of pedestrian facilities for the senior citizens and persosn with disabilities.  He narrated that everyday thousands of persons commute between Bandra Railway Station, on Bandra East side towards MHADA End. This segment faces a junction which has a flow of heavy traffic as pedestrians are required to also cross the Western Express Highway. He has submitted that there is only one pavement which is required to be used by these commuters which gets unimaginably crowded, thereby creating a routine situation of accidents taking place and that such a chaotic situation is totally against the interest of the commuters. 

The HC had on an earlier hearing dated 20 March 2023 observed that commuter safety is paramount and any mishap occurring due to non-availability of a safe footpath or walkway would amount to a breach of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to the citizens. The bench noted the Central and Western railways as also the Metro have provided such mechanisms at several railway stations, including escalators. Asking the BMC to consider it too, the bench said, “Benefits of modern technology need to be made available to the commuters, to maketheir commuting life in Mumbai more easier and comfortable. ” 

“We are sure that such aspects as highlighted by us would be considered and borne in mind by the MCGM in consultation with all other authorities, so that not only the proposed skywalk but also all existing skywalks in the city are made ideal, for their best possible utility, so as to achieve the purpose for which they are constructed,” 

The steps being taken by the MCGM and more particularly, that within a period of 15 months from the date of award of the contract, the entire work of restoration of the sky-walk in question would be completed, is a welcome measure being taken by the MCGM. We accordingly dispose of this petition accepting the statements as made in the reply affidavit and permitting the MCGM to progress the work with all expediency, expresed the court in its order disposign off the petition. 

Read the judgement:

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Supreme Court directs Consortium of National Law Universities to provide Scribe to those who are unable to find scribe, among other reliefs.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench:  Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India; Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, Justice  and  J B Pardiwala, Justice

Case Number: Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1109 of 2022

Case Title: Arnab Roy Versus Consortium of National Law Universities & Anr.

Date of Judgement: 17 March 2023

Cases Reffered: 

 1. Vikash Kumar Vs Union Public Service Commission & Ors.


The petitioner,  a lawyer and a disability rights activist, moved these proceedings under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging certain conditions which were imposed for the conduct of the Common Law Admission Test 2023 scheduled on 18 December 2022. The issue specifically addressed by the petitioner relates to the facilities for candidates who intend to avail of a scribe as the restrictive conditons have been imposed belatedly just four weeks before the exams which in turn would mean that atleast 13 visually impaired candidates would not be able to avail the scribe. This included denial of the right to a scribe to candidates who do not have a benchmark disability though they have a genuine difficulty in writing.

The Supreme Court bench  in this matter has taken a progressive stance while dealing with the Examination Guidelines to ensure equal opportunities for candidates with disabilities in the LL.B admissions process particularly about provisions for necessary accommodations and support to participate in the CLAT examination . 

The bench clarified that candidates appearing for the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) examination conducted by Consortium of National Law Universities can either bring their own scribe or if it is not possible to do so, request the Consortium to provide a scribe who is then made available to the candidate.  Where the candidates are unable to find their own scribe and the Consortium provides a scribe, at least two days’ time should be provided so as to enable the candidate to interact with the scribe, directed the court.

The bench, headed by the Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud  passed several directions to guarantee that candidates with disabilities receive all the facilities specified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,Govt. of India. The Court accepted the suggestion of the petitioner and emphasized the importance of issuing guidelines well in advance, ensuring clarity regarding the facilities available for candidates with disabilities.

Additionally, the bench also directed the consortium to align their guidelines with the official memorandum issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. While there were concerns that the condition of scribes not being involved in coaching for other competitive exams would limit the availability of scribes, the Court has allowed the consortium's request to ensure the sanctity of the CLAT exam. However, it also highlighted that the nature and contents of the Examination Guidelines cannot be frozen for the future. The Consortium would be at liberty to modify the Guidelines bearing in mind the exigencies of the situation and the constantly evolving nature of the knowledge and experience gained in conducting CLAT particularly in the context of the rights of PwD candidates.

This judgement is a significant step towards promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities in legal education. The Consortium of NLUs was established to enhance the standards of legal education and coordination among National Law Schools, and this decision aligns with their objective.

This judgement will undoubtedly create a more inclusive and fair admission process for aspiring law students with disabilities in line with the intention of the legislature behind passing the RPWD Act 2016.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Madras HC- Motor Vehicle Tax Exemptions to disabled can not be subject to condition that it is driven by the disabled himself [Judgement Included]

Court: Madras High Court (Madurai Bench)

Bench: Hon`ble Ms. Justice P.T. ASHA

Case No: WP(MD).1480/2023

Case Title: Angappan Vs. The Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu 

Date of Order/Judgement:  13/03/2023


One Mr. Angappan claiming to have 80% locomotor disability had approached the court after the Regional Transport Officer, Pudukottai had rejected his application for tax exemption. The officers had demanded production of the disability certificate and a certificate stating that the Angappan can drive the vehicle. They also sought for a certificate from the Retro Fitment Centre, which had adapted the vehicle. Though the certificates were produced, his application was rejected. The authorities however countered this claim by submitting that the tax exemption was available only for self driven vehicles. 

Clearing a misconception that persons with disabilities (PwD) would be exempted from paying tax for their motor vehicles only if they drive the vehicle, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently came to the rescue of Mr. Angappan, a person with 80% locomotor disability who, when he applied for tax exemption for registration of his car, was asked to produce a certificate that he could drive the car.

The court noted that the authorities had in fact misconstrued the provisions of the Government Order. The stand that tax exemption was available only for self driven vehicles was a misconception. Further, the court noted that in the present case, there were no major alterations as contemplated in the Act. The only alteration was for the easy ingress and egress of Angappan. Thus, the court held that Angappan was eligible for tax exemption and directed the authorities to grant the said exemption to him while alowing his petition. 

The Governmetnof Tamil Nadu Home (Transport -T) Department had passed a GO in December 1976 exempting persons with physical disabilities from paying tax for motor vehicles that are specifically designed or adapted for their use, provided that the said vehicles are used only by persons with disabilities. However, the purpose of the GO has been totally misconstrued by the authorities, the judge observed.

“They have understood the notification to be available only to motor vehicles, which are driven by the physically challenged persons themselves. This is an absolute misconception. The said notification is issued in tune with the definition of an ‘adapted vehicle’ as provided in Section 2 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Act. The only condition prescribed is that the vehicle should be ‘used’ by the person, for whose use the vehicle has been adapted. Nowhere does it state that it should be driven by the said person,” the judge clarified.

"Neither the definition under Section 2(1) nor Section 52 specifies that it is the person, for whose purpose, the adaption is made, who should ride the vehicle. On the contrary, the definition of adapted vehicle makes it clear that the vehicle should be used solely by or “for such person”.

Justice Asha thus opined that the State should ensure that such persons who are granted exemption enjoy the same and added as below:

“Where a rule or regulation purports to grant a right to a particular section of society, courts must use the rule of purposive interpretation to ensure that the object of beneficial legislation reaches the intended section of the society,” 

The government order, read along with Section 2 (1) and Section 52 of the Act, clearly spells out that a physically challenged person, who owns a vehicle and has adapted the vehicle for his or her use, is entitled to the tax exemption, the judge added and allowed the petition.

Read the order /Judgement dated 13 Mar 2023 below:

Monday, March 6, 2023

DHC directs Delhi Govt. to undertake Special Recruitment Drive To Fill Up Vacancies For PwDs

Court: Delhi High Court
Case No. : W.P.(C) 8455/2017
Date of Judgement: 06.03.2023
Neutral Citation Number: 2023/DHC/001652


While disposing off a public interest litigation filed by National Federation of the Blind alleging inaction on the part of the Delhi Govt. in implementing reervation for persons with disabilities particularly persons with visual disabilities, a division bench of the Delhi High Court directed Chief Secretary of the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) to undertake a special recruitment drive for filling up backlog of vacancies for persons with disabilities (calculated rom 1996 when the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 was enforced @ 3% and from 2017 till date @ 4% in various departments or establishments in a time bound manner. 

The division bench also set out a time schedule to be followed by the GNCTD to carry out the special recruitment for filling up the vacancies. Directing the concerned departments, the court said, “The notification of advertisement by DSSSB/ UPSC, as the case may be, for filling up back-log of vacancies for persons with benchmark disabilities against requisition sent to them be issued within 30 days from the date of receiving requisition. The DSSSB/ UPSC, as the case may, shall declare the result and the process of appointment be concluded within a period of 30 days from the date of declaration of result/ interview.”

Read the detailed Judgement below:

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Madras HC raps a private school for refusing to admit a child with autism

Court:  High Court of Judicature at Madras

Bench: Hon'ble Jutice C.V. Karthikeyan

Case No.: W.P. No. 24973 of 2022

Case Title: The Child Vs. State of Tamilnadu 

Date of Judgement:  22.02.2023


Fuming over the denial of admission to a special needs child, the Madras High Court rapped a school run in the name of a missionary for not following the principles of the missionary and betraying her name and Christian faith.

Justice CV Karthikeyan made the comments while disposing of a petition filed by a minor child who was denied admission at a popular missionary school in Vellore. Quoting previous judgments on admitting children with special needs in schools under the right to education act, the judge said the courts have always been sensitive to children with special needs, expressing hope that educational institutions would not betray children with special needs.

“The sixth respondent (school) has failed not only in this duty but also betrayed the name of the noble Missionary and extremely, extremely distressingly their Christian faith,” he deplored. The order was passed on the petition filed by the minor child, represented by her mother, currently residing at Gandhi Nagar, Katpadi in Vellore, seeking orders from the school to admit the child.

The child, diagnosed with mild autism spectrum disorder, was earlier admitted to a CBSE school in Padur. After the covid lockdown, the child developed some difficulties and was taken to the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMED) at Kovalam in Chennai.

The mother, a government officer, got transferred to Vellore and the father resigned from his job to take care of the child before the child was at the CMC Hospital in Vellore in 2021 for assessment and was confirmed special needs child.

After several schools denied admission citing a lack of special educators, the mother approached the missionary school in 2022 for admission. After holding a written examination and an interview with the child, the school refused admission saying that it had no special educators to take care of the child.

The mother, in her affidavit, stated that the website of the school had sported messages about having special teachers to support students with special education needs. Aggrieved over the denial of admission, she approached the concerned government authorities before moving to the High Court.

The judge said the sixth respondent/school is quite pathetically and ironically named after a third-generation American Medical Missionary in India. It makes him wonder whether those in administration today are riding on that name without following her principles or the core conduct which the noble lady adhered to.

Saying that the missionary, who lived between 1870 and 1960 dedicated her life to assuaging the plight of Indian women and worked tirelessly helping those afflicted with ‘bubonic plague, cholera and leprosy’, the judge said, “Very very unfortunately, her name is used by an institution which had taken a conscious decision to drive away a child and her parents, who had sought refuge and admission.”

Finding a touch of hollowness in the belated offer of admission to the school, he felt that such an offer should have been given voluntarily. The judge said the court would not stand in the way of decision-making by the mother. 

“I hope that if at all the mother takes a decision to admit the child in the sixth respondent, they would prove false my words expressed above and if they do so, I shall be the most satisfied person. The entire issue is in their hands,” he said concluding the verdict.

Read /Download the Judgement

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Delhi HC appoints Amicus to decide on constituting Special courts under section 84 of RPWD Act for speedy and fair trial for PwDs

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma

Case No.: W.P.(CRL)  2500 / 2022


Dates of Hearings with Orders : 31 Jan 2023 [PDF 508KB] |  21 Feb 2023 [PDF 168KB] | 20 Mar 2023 (renotified) | 07 Jul 2023 |


Despite an order by the Court of State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (presided by the then SCPD Shri TD Dhariyal) issued in a Suo Motu case No. 988/1141/2019/06/ 3652-3657 Dated: 22 July 2019 and further Notification dated 19 Aug 2019 isued by Department of Law, Justice & Legislative Affairs, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, designating Additional Sessions Judge 02 in all district courts  as Special Courts in Delhi to try offences under the RPWD Act 2016 (PDF 2.9 MB),  the issues seems to be lingering on still. Either the Court & the counsel is not aware of the developments or the Govt. has forgotton its own notification and hasn't yet activated the special courts.

In this case filed by Rakesh Kumar Kalra, a deaf individual, the Delhi High Court has appointed senior advocate N Hariharan as amicus curiae to assist it in deciding the manner in which a special court can be constituted to try offences under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, ensuring a fair and speedy trial for persons with disabilities.

While framing issues for consideration, a single judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma on 31 January 2023 appointed Adv Hariharan to assist the court in deciding “how can a special court be constituted as per Section 84 to try offences under Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016”. Hariharan will also be assisting on how a speedy and fair trial for the differently abled persons can be ensured and how the judicial system can be improved for the benefit of the differently abled.

Chapter XIII of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act deals with the special courts to try offences under the Act. Section 84 of the Act states that for the purpose of providing speedy trial, the state government shall, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the high court, by notification, specify for each district, a court of session to be a special court to try the offences under this Act.

Section 85 also provides for the appointment of a public prosecutor for every special court by the state government or the appointment of an advocate, who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as a ‘special public prosecutor’ for the purpose of conducting cases in that special court. With respect to offences under the enactment, the Act states that any person who contravenes any provisions of the Act or any rule made thereunder shall for first contravention be punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 and for any subsequent contravention with a fine, which shall not be less than Rs 50,000 but which may extend to Rs 5 lakh.

Read the order below:-

Monday, January 23, 2023

Central Administrative Tribunal directs CAG to appoint a meritorious candidate with Mental Illness disability to the post of Auditor

Court: Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench Delhi

Bench:  Hon’ble Mr. Manish Garg, Member (J) & Hon’ble Mr. Anand S. Khati, Member (A)

Case No:    OA No. 339/2022

Case Title: Amit Yadav Vs. Comptroller & Auditor General &Anr. 

Date of Order : 23 January, 2023


The CAT Principal Bench directed the CAG to appoint the applicant with Mental Illness disability to the post of Auditor and added that such persons should be facilitated in a friendly and pleasant way that makes them feel relaxed and calms the nervous system. The bipolar persons neither can be treated with bias nor can be regarded as shame to the society. The court held the approach of the CAG as discriminaotry.

In order to raise awareness on the mental illness as a disability, the bench went on to discuss an illustrative list of celebrities diagnosed with OCD and bipolar disease, who have either talked about or living with the symptoms of the condition, have reached their peaks in their career. Among many people from other other countries, the list also highlighted Deepika Padukone, film actress who faced OCD during her career.  

The applicant is a person with benchmark disability (PwBD) having a disability of 55% under the Mental illness category suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) & Bipolar disorder. He has been on medication for the same since 2017.

He appeared in the recruitment process and successfully qualified the exam and was recommended for appointment as Auditor in Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. But the CAG returned his dossiers to SSC on 28.09.2019 claiming that the applicant is not suitable for the post of Auditor and that he may be re-allocated to any other suitable department.

That Section 34 provides for another 1% reservation jointly for two new recognized categories PwBDs under clauses (d) & (e) of sub-section 1 of Section 34. PwBDs with Autism, Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness (MI), Specific Learning Disability (SLD) have been categorized under clause (d) & Multiple Disabilities under clause (e).

The SSC in its official advertisement dated 05.05.2018 just extended the right of reservation to these newly recognized disability categories under the heading “Other PwD” category  but did not mention specific posts reserved for these new categories. The advertisement provided that vacancies will be notified in due course and the candidates belonging to new categories were asked to apply under “Other PwD category”.   Thus the post of Auditor remained recognized for other PwD which includes mentally ill in both the lists of vacancies notified in due course.

The felt that the Section 34 of the RPWD Act clearly rules that there has to be one percent reservation for the PwDs categorized under clauses (d) and (e) and not (d) or (e) i.e. reservation has to be made available to both the categories under clauses and not either of the two. Therefore, the correct course of action would have been to provide reservation to both the categories i.e. under clause (d) and (e) jointly whoever amongst them secures merit would be allotted the post. In this case, the applicant has been recommended as per correct interpretation of law because he was also qualified in the merit list along with other candidates under Multiple disability falling under clause (e). Thus, in the correct course of action, both should have been appointed against one percent reservation.

Explaining the neded of facilitating persons with Mental Illnesss at workplace, the court said, "Bipolar is mood swings, emotions, impulse, what is needed is right kind of professional assistance and  rehabilitation. The persons having bipolar disease are victim of circumstances. Such persons should be facilitated in a friendly and pleasant way that makes them feel relaxed and calms the nervous system. The bipolar persons neither can be treated with bias nor can be regarded as shame to the society. The stand adopted by intending department, i.e., CAG by itself is discriminated to the provisions of Section 34 of the 2016 Act qua the categories which are sought to be capable of performing function as Auditors. The action of the respondents defeats the purpose of RPWD Act. The paramount interest of the State is to sub-serve the aims and objects of the Act and, therefore, the persons with mental illness without any intelligible differentia cannot be discriminated qua the other diseases which fall in the zone of consideration under the provisions of RPWD Act.

The court while allowing the OA,  held that the return of dossier by CAG to SSC was bad in law and thus quashed and set aside the same. It further said that the applicant is also entitled to the protection of Section 20(4) of the RPwD Act. Thus in the event, applicant is found unsuitable for the post of “Auditor” by the Independent Medical Board, he shall be entitled to alternative offer of appointment to alternative suitable equivalent assignment/post in another department in consultation with Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and SSC while re-assigning/re-allocating the applicant to an alternative post, it become necessary that his pay, emoluments and conditions of service must be protected.

Read the judgement/ order below:

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Delhi HC directs Yash Raj Films to make Pathaan movie accessible by providing audio description and subtitles for visually and hearing impaired users.

Court: High Court of Delhi

Bench: Justice Pratibha M Singh

Case No:    W.P.(C) 445/2023

Case Title: Akshat Baldwa & Ors. Vs. Yash Raj Films & Ors. 

Date of Hearing/Order : 16 January, 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 06 April, 2023


The Delhi High Court on 16 January 2023 directed Yash Raj Films to prepare audio description, close captioning and subtitles in Hindi language for the OTT release of its upcoming movie Pathaan to make it accessible for hearing and visually impaired persons. The movie is scheduled to be released in theatres on January 25 and will be screened on Amazon Prime later in April.

Justice Prathiba M Singh directed the producer Yash Raj Films to prepare audio description, close captioning and subtitles of the movie within two weeks and submit it to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for a decision on re-certification by February 20. The court directed that a decision on recertification of the film be taken by March 10.

The court was hearing a plea seeking direction to make captions in the movie accessible for visually and hearing impaired persons and sought inclusion of audio description, close captioning and subtitles in the film in consonance with the rights of persons with disabilities.

The plea was moved by various persons with disabilities,  that included  a law student, lawyers and Executive Director of the National Association for the Deaf, seeking enforcement of various rights and accessibility requirements as prescribed under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and that the films released in India are not catering to the needs of the disabled. 

Rahul Bajaj, one of the petitioners appearing in person, submitted that while subtitles having been approved by the CBFC, the audio description and the closed captioning have not been made available and that even subtitling has been made only in English language and not in the language of the movie in question which makes it almost impossible for hearing and visually impaired persons to enjoy the film. Directions were also sought on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment to notify required standards in this regard.

Noting that the petition raises “very important issues” as to accessibility of entertainment to the hearing and visually impaired persons, the court said that as per Section 42 of RPwD Act, the government has an obligation to take measures to ensure that all content is available in accessible formats for persons with disabilities.

“In the context of films ... special measures would have to be taken for the hearing and visually impaired persons inasmuch as the experience of watching a film in the movie theatre cannot be denied to such persons,” the court said.

Justice Singh also impleaded the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation, Film Producers Association and Ministry of Electronics an Information Technology as respondents in the matter.

Issuing notice to the respondents, the court said they shall place their stands on or before February 28..

“In the meantime, insofar as the theatrical show exhibition of the film, if the producer wishes to do so, they may contact the app providers to explore the possibility of providing audio description and subtitling to be done for future films,” the court said while listing the matter for hearing on April 6.

Below is the Order dated 16 Jan 2023

Judgement reproduced below:
Date of Decision: 16th January, 2023
W.P.(C) 445/2023 & CM APPLs.1752-53/2023
AKSHAT BALDWA & ORS.				..... Petitioners
Through:	Mr. Rahul Bajaj, Petitioner No.2 in person 

	YASH RAJ FILMS & ORS.				..... Respondents
Through:	Mr. Abhishek Malhotra, and Ms. Shrishti Gupta, Advocates for R-1. 
Mr. Chetan Sharma, ASG with Mr. Ravi Prakash, CGSC, Mr. Farman Ali & Ms. Usha Jamal, Advocates for R-2, 2A and 3 
Prathiba M. Singh, J. (Oral)

1.  	This hearing has been done through hybrid mode. 

CM APPL. 1753/2023 (for exemption)
2.	Allowed, subject to all just exceptions. Application is disposed of.

W.P.(C) 445/2023 & CM APPL. 1752/2023
3. The present petition has been filed by four Petitioners who are citizens, out of whom, Petitioner Nos.1, 2 and 4 are visually impaired and Petitioner No.3 is hearing impaired. Petitioner No.1 is a law student at National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, Petitioner Nos.2 and 4 are qualified lawyers. Petitioner No.3 is the Joint Secretary & Executive Director of the National Association for the Deaf.

4. The petition has been filed seeking directions against Respondent No.1 - Yash Raj Films, which is the producer of the film ‘Pathaan’, the two Ministries i.e., Respondent No.2 - Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Respondent No.3 - Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, as also, the Respondent No.4 - Amazon Seller Services Private Limited, which operates an Over-The-Top (hereinafter, “OTT”) platform namely, Amazon Prime Video, on which the said film is stated to be scheduled for release on 28th April, 2023.

5. The Petitioners seek enforcement of various rights and accessibility requirements, as prescribed under the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (hereinafter, “RPWD Act”). The prayers sought in the present petition are extracted below:

“The Petitioners, therefore, pray that in the facts and circumstances of the present case this Hon'ble Court may be pleased to issue writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ or direction to:
A. Directing Respondent No. 1 to provide AD and subtitling/captioning for the movie Pathaan, in theatres, Over-the-Top streaming platforms (through Respondent No. 4) and any other media in which the movie is made available;
B. A direction to Respondent No. 2 and 3 to take appropriate steps in effecting the provision for audio description and subtitling/captioning for the movie Pathaan;
C. A Direction to Respondent No. 2 and 3 to promptly notify standards of accessibility for captioning/subtitling and audio description; and 
Pass such other and further orders / directions / writs as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstance of the case.”
6. The case of the Petitioners is that, though various rights have been recognized for ‘persons with disabilities’ under the RPWD Act, most films which are released in India are not catering to disabled persons despite the statute having been enacted more than 5-6 years ago.

7.	Mr. Rahul Bajaj, Petitioner No.2 appearing in person, makes the following submissions:
i.	There are various tools that help make films disabled - friendly, but none of them have been implemented in the film ‘Pathaan’.  
ii.	The film ‘Pathaan’ is slated for release in theatres on 25th January, 2023. However, apart from the subtitles having been approved by the Central Board of Film Certification (hereinafter, “CBFC”), the said film does not make available audio description and closed captions. Even the approved subtitles are in the English language, instead of being in the language of the film, i.e., Hindi, and this makes it almost impossible for hearing and visually impaired persons to enjoy the said film.
iii.	The producers of the film ‘Pathaan’ ought to be directed to add the audio description, subtitles, and closed captions, before the release of the said film. 
iv.	The two Ministries, i.e., Respondent Nos.2 and 3, be directed to notify the required standards for accessibility to persons who are hearing and visually impaired. On this aspect, he submits that even though certain guidelines have been issued in the past, the same have not been implemented by the Ministries, and there are no sanctions for non-compliance of the same. Thus, a large number of films do not take the necessary steps to provide these tools which make the films disabled-friendly. 
v.	Reliance is placed upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Rajive Raturi v. Union of India, [(2018) 2 SCC 413].
vi.	Further reliance is placed upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Vikash Kumar v. UPSC and Ors., [2021 SCC Online SC 84]. 
8. On a specific query from the Court as to how visually impaired persons are able to enjoy films in a theatre, Mr. Bajaj submits that, in certain foreign countries, the theatres themselves make provisions for headphones to be plugged into the seats in the theatre, through which audio description is relayed in an audio format. However, in India, such facilities are not available in most film theatres. Despite this being the position, persons with visual impairment can enjoy the audio description of the films through certain mobile applications which can be downloaded on a smartphone, so long as the producer has an arrangement with the said mobile applications and provides the requisite audio description of the film to the application. It is submitted that there are two mobile applications available in India, namely, ‘XL Cinema’ and ‘Shazacin’, which provide such facilities for visually impaired persons.

9.	On behalf of the Respondent No.1 - Producer - Yash Raj Films, Mr. Abhishek Malhotra, ld. Counsel makes the following submissions:
i.	The film ‘Pathaan’ has already been approved by the CBFC. At the time of approval, the Producer has already submitted the subtitles for the film in the English language. The Producer has also received the certification for the film, which is slated to be released in theatres on 25th January, 2023. 
ii.	The Producers have entered into an arrangement with the OTT platform - Amazon Prime Video, for the OTT release of the film ‘Pathaan’ which is stated to be scheduled on 28th April, 2023. 
iii.	In principle, the stand of the Producers is that it would be willing to take any reasonable steps which may be required in order to ensure that its films are enjoyed by hearing and visually impaired persons as well. 
10. On behalf of the Respondent Nos.2 and 3 - Ministries, it is pointed by ld. Counsel that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued certain directions to the Film Producers Association, as also, to the CBFC, way back in October, 2019, to use audio description and subtitles/closed captions in all films. Since he is appearing on advance notice, ld. Counsel wishes to seek instructions as to the actual status of the said directions which have been issued, and the implementation thereof.

11. None appears for Respondent No.4 - Amazon Seller Services Private Limited. Accordingly, issue notice to Respondent No.4 through all permissible modes.

12. Heard. This Court is of the opinion that the present petition raises very important issues as to the accessibility to various modes of entertainment for the hearing and visually impaired persons. A reading of Section 42 of the RPWD Act, 2016 shows that the Government has an obligation to take measures to ensure that all content is available in formats accessible to persons with disabilities. The said provision is set out below:
“42. Access to information and communication technology.—The appropriate Government shall take measures to ensure that,— 
(i) all contents available in audio, print and electronic media are in accessible format; 
(ii) persons with disabilities have access to electronic media by providing audio description, sign language interpretation and close captioning; 
(iii) electronic goods and equipment which are meant for every day use are available in universal design.”
13.	In the context of films, the measures that can be taken by film producers to make them accessible to the hearing and visually impaired persons, are as under:
Audio description - which implies the verbal depiction of key visual elements in media and live productions. This involves description of the visuals on screen to enable imagination by the hearing (read visually) impaired;
Subtitling - which provides a text alternative for the dialogue of video footage – the spoken words of characters, narrators and other vocal participants, in the original language itself, as also, in the dubbed language in case of dubbed movies; and 
Closed Captions - which not only supplement dialogue but other relevant parts of the soundtrack – describing background noises, phones ringing, and other audio cues that need describing, 
These features would be integral to the enjoyment of films for persons with disabilities.

14.	In view of the above, special measures would have to be taken for the hearing and visually impaired persons, inasmuch as the experience of watching a film in a movie theatre cannot be denied to persons with disabilities. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the technology for the same is readily available. As submitted by Mr. Bajaj, several films in the past, such as Dangal, Black, Munna Bhai MBBS, are stated to have incorporated audio descriptions, subtitles and closed captions for the hearing and visually impaired persons. 
15.	Thus, considering the reliefs sought, there are two aspects that would be required to be considered:
i.	Firstly, directions insofar as the film ‘Pathaan’ is concerned, to make the said film comply with the prescribed accessibility standards, to the extent possible; and
ii.	Secondly, an overall solution that has to be found to ensure the implementation of the statutory provisions and other directions, to make films disabled-friendly for the hearing and visually impaired.
16.	The position of law as to the right to accessibility has been reiterated by Justice A.K. Sikri, speaking for the Supreme Court, in Rajive Raturi v. Union of India, [(2018) 2 SCC 413], wherein the Court observed as under:
“12) The vitality of the issue of ‘Accessibility’ vis-a-vis visually disabled persons’ right to life can be gauged clearly by this Court’s judgment in State of Himachal Pradesh & Anr. v. Umed Ram Sharma, where the right to life under Article 21 has been held broad enough to incorporate the right to accessibility. Relevant paragraphs of this judgment have been reproduced below:
“Read in the background of Article 38(2) every person has right under Article 19(1)(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India.  He has also the right under Article 21 to his life which embraces not only physical existence of life but the quality of life and for residents of hilly areas, access to road is access to life itself. Therefore, to the residents of the hilly areas as far as feasible and possible society has constitutional obligation to provide roads for communication in reasonable conditions. Denial of that right would be denial of the life as understood in its richness and fullness by the ambit of the Constitution.
  *    *    *
11. …..
13) Right to dignity, which is ensured in our Constitutional set up for every citizen applies with much more vigour in case of persons suffering from disability and, therefore, it becomes imperative to provide such facilities so that these persons also are ensured level playing field and not only they are able to enjoy life meaningfully, they contribute to the progress of the nation as well. In a recent judgment in Jeeja Ghosh v. Union of India, these aspects were highlighted by this Court in the following form:
37.  The rights that are guaranteed to differently-abled persons under the 1995 Act, are founded on the sound principle of human dignity which is the core value of human right and is treated as a significant facet of right to life and liberty. Such a right, now treated as human right of the persons who are disabled, has its roots in Article 21 of the Constitution. Jurisprudentially, three types of models for determining the content of the constitutional value of human dignity are recognised. These are: (i) Theological Models, (ii) Philosophical Models, and (iii) Constitutional Models. Legal scholars were called upon to determine the theological basis of human dignity as a constitutional value and as a constitutional right. Philosophers also came out with their views justifying human dignity as core human value. Legal understanding is influenced by theological and philosophical views, though these two are not identical. Aquinas and Kant discussed the jurisprudential aspects of human dignity based on the aforesaid philosophies. Over a period of time, human dignity has found its way through constitutionalism, whether written or unwritten. Even right to equality is interpreted based on the value of human dignity. Insofar as India is concerned, we are not even required to take shelter under theological or philosophical theories. We have a written Constitution which guarantees human rights that are contained in Part III with the caption “Fundamental Rights”. One such right enshrined in Article 21 is right to life and liberty. Right to life is given a purposeful meaning by this Court to include right to live with dignity. It is the purposive interpretation which has been adopted by this Court to give a content of the right to human dignity as the fulfilment of the constitutional value enshrined in Article 21. Thus, human dignity is a constitutional value and a constitutional goal. What are the dimensions of constitutional value of human dignity? It is beautifully illustrated by Aharon Barak (former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel) in the following manner:
“The constitutional value of human dignity has a central normative role. Human dignity as a constitutional value is the factor that unites the human rights into one whole. It ensures the normative unity of human rights. This normative unity is expressed in the three ways: first, the value of human dignity serves as a normative basis for constitutional rights set out in the Constitution; second, it serves as an interpretative principle for determining the scope of constitutional rights, including the right to human dignity; third, the value of human dignity has an important role in determining the proportionality of a statute limiting a constitutional right.” 
xxx xxx xxx
40. In international human rights law, equality is founded upon two complementary principles: non-discrimination and reasonable differentiation. The principle of non-discrimination seeks to ensure that all persons can equally enjoy and exercise all their rights and freedoms. Discrimination occurs due to arbitrary denial of opportunities for equal participation. For example, when public facilities and services are set on standards out of the reach of persons with disabilities, it leads to exclusion and denial of rights. Equality not only implies preventing discrimination (example, the protection of individuals against unfavourable treatment by introducing anti-discrimination laws), but goes beyond in remedying discrimination against groups suffering systematic discrimination in society. In concrete terms, it means embracing the notion of positive rights, affirmative action and reasonable accommodation. The move from the patronising and paternalistic approach to persons with disabilities represented by the medical model to viewing them as members of the community with equal rights has also been reflected in the evolution of international standards relating specifically to disabilities, as well as in moves to place the rights of persons with disabilities within the category of universal human rights. (See Report of United Nations Consultative Expert Group Meeting on International Norms and Standards Relating to Disability, 10-2-2001.) 
xxx xxx xxx
43. All these rights conferred upon such persons send an eloquent message that there is no question of sympathising with such persons and extending them medical or other help. What is to be borne in mind is that they are also human beings and they have to grow as normal persons and are to be extended all facilities in this behalf. The subject of the rights of persons with disabilities should be approached from human rights perspective, which recognised that persons with disabilities were entitled to enjoy the full range of internationally guaranteed rights and freedoms without discrimination on the ground of disability. This creates an obligation on the part of the State to take positive measures to ensure that in reality persons with disabilities get enabled to exercise those rights. There should be insistence on the full measure of general human rights guarantees in the case of persons with disabilities, as well as developing specific instruments that refine and give detailed contextual content of those general guarantees. There should be a full recognition of the fact that persons with disability were integral part of the community, equal in dignity and entitled to enjoy the same human rights and freedoms as others. It is a sad commentary that this perception has not sunk in the mind and souls of those who are not concerned with the enforcement of these rights. The persons suffering from mental or physical disability experience and encounter nonpareil form of discrimination. They are not looked down by people. However, they are not accepted in the mainstream either even when people sympathise with them. Most common, their lives are handicapped by social, cultural and attitudinal barriers which hamper their full participation and enjoyment of equal rights and opportunities. This is the worst form of discrimination which the disabled feel as their grievance is that others do not understand them.
xxx xxx xxx
46. It is the common experience of several persons with disabilities that they are unable to lead a full life due to societal barriers and discrimination faced by them in employment, access to public spaces, transportation, etc. Persons with disability are the most neglected lot not only in the society but also in the family. More often they are an object of pity. There are hardly any meaningful attempts to assimilate them in the mainstream of the nation's life. The apathy towards their problems is so pervasive that even the number of disabled persons existing in the country is not well documented.”
17.	Similar is the view taken by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, speaking for the Supreme Court in Vikash Kumar v. UPSC and Ors., [2021 SCC Online SC 84], wherein the Court held that the State, as also, private parties are mandated to provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities. The relevant extracts of the said judgment are set out below:
“44 The principle of reasonable accommodation captures the positive obligation of the State and private parties to provide additional support to persons with disabilities to facilitate their full and effective participation in society. The concept of reasonable accommodation is developed in section (H) below. For the present, suffice it to say that, for a person with disability, the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to equality, the six freedoms and the right to life under Article 21 will ring hollow if they are not given this additional support that helps make these rights real and meaningful for them. Reasonable accommodation is the instrumentality – are an obligation as a society – to enable the disabled to enjoy the constitutional guarantee of equality and non- discrimination. In this context, it would be apposite to remember Justice R M Lodha’s (as he then was) observation in Sunanda Bhandare Foundation v. Union of India, where he stated:
“9…In the matters of providing relief to those who are differently abled, the approach and attitude of the executive must be liberal and relief oriented and not obstructive or lethargic…
53.   While most of the obligations under the 2016 RPwD Act are cast upon the government or local authorities, the Act and rules made under it have also imposed certain obligations on the private sector. The role of the private sector in the market has increased manifold since the advent of liberalisation in India. The RPwD Act 2016 recognizes that with the burgeoning role of the private sector in generating employment in India, an active responsibility has to be cast upon private employers to create an inclusive workforce by providing persons with disabilities equal opportunities in the job market. However, the guarantee of equal opportunity must be accompanied by the provision of reasonable accommodation. The Rules framed under the 2016 RPwD Act stipulate that private establishments shall not discriminate against persons with disability on the ground of disability. It is to be noted that the definition of discrimination under Section 2(h) of the 2016 RPwD Act includes denial of reasonable accommodation. Private employers are mandated to frame an equal opportunity policy. Equal opportunity policies for establishments having more than 20 employees are required to include provisions relating to (i) appointment of liaison officers in establishments to look after the recruitment of persons with disabilities and provisions of facilities and amenities for such employees; (ii) identification of posts/vacancies for disabled persons; (iii) provision of additional facilities and benefits such as training facilities, assistive devices, barrier free accessibility, preference in transfer and promotion, allotment of residential accommodation and special leave.  The 2016 RPwD Act further provides that private establishments have to conform with accessibility norms stipulated by the Government with respect to building plans. The 2016 RPwD Act also provides that 5% of the workforce of establishments receiving incentives from the appropriate Government would be comprised of persons having benchmark disability.”
18. A perusal of the above judgments would show that accessibility is crucial and is enforceable as a legal right. Even private parties have to ensure that ‘reasonable accommodation’ measures are taken in order to enable greater accessibility for the hearing and visually impaired persons. Though accessibility in the case of Rajive Raturi (supra) is in the context of access to buildings, transportation etc., accessibility to information, technology and entertainment, is equally important. A hearing or visually impaired person, may get easy physical access to a film theatre but may not be able to enjoy the film at all, if the measures to make it enjoyable are not taken by the other stakeholders, including producers, theatre managers, OTT platforms, etc. The State has an obligation to ensure that all steps, that are reasonably possible, are taken in this direction.
Interim Directions:
19.	Thus, in the interim, it is directed as under:
a.	Insofar as the theatrical release of the film ‘Pathaan’ is concerned, since the said film is slated for release on 25th January, 2023, no directions are being passed. 
b.	However, insofar as the release of the film ‘Pathaan’ on the Respondent No.4’s ‘Amazon’ OTT platform is concerned, the following directions are issued:
i.	The Respondent No.1 - Producer shall prepare the audio description, the subtitles in the Hindi language, as also, the closed captions in both English and Hindi languages, and submit that same to the CBFC for approval, by 20th February, 2023.
ii.	Upon the same being submitted, the CBFC shall consider the re-certification of the film ‘Pathaan’, along with the audio description, the subtitles in the Hindi language, and the closed captions in both English and Hindi languages. 
iii.	CBFC shall take a decision on re-certification of the said film by 10th March, 2023. 
c.	If the Respondent No.1 - Producer wishes to enable greater accessibility for the film ‘Pathaan’, in theatres, it may contact the operators of the mobile applications ‘XL Cinema’ and ‘Shazacin’, or other similar applications, if any, to explore the possibility of providing audio description, subtitles, and closed captions.
d.	Insofar as the issue of having an overall and holistic solution to the questions raised in the present petition is concerned, it is deemed appropriate to implead the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) as Respondent No.5 in the present petition. In addition, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) shall also be impleaded in this matter as Respondent No.6.  Issue notice to the newly impleaded Respondent Nos.5 and 6, without payment of process fee, through the following particulars: 
Respondent No.5:
Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF)
Address: C-301, C-302 & C-303, Ansal Plaza, Third Floor,
Khel Gaon Marg, New Delhi - 110 049, India.
Mobile No.:  +91 11 4379 4400, Email: 
Respondent No.6:
Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA)
Address: G-1 to 7, Crescent Tower, Off New Link Road 
Oshiwara, Nr. Dhiraj Gaurav Heights, Andheri West Mumbai, 
Mumbai City, MH 400053 
Phone No.: 022 62390666 / 022 62390777 / 022 62390888
Mobile No.: 8879031147 / 771507277       
e.	Considering the nature of the reliefs sought in this matter, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is also impleaded as Respondent No.2(a). Mr. Farman Ali, ld. Counsel accepts notice on behalf of Respondent Nos. 2(a) as well. 

20. Let an amended memo of parties be filed on behalf of the Petitioners, within one week. Upon the amended memo of parties being filed, let the Registry serve notice to Respondent Nos.4, 5 and 6.

21. Let a status report be placed on record in respect of the directions issued above and in response to the writ petition, by Mr. Ali, ld. Counsel for Respondent Nos.2, 2(a) and 3, by the next date of hearing.

22. Let the counter affidavit be filed by Respondent No.1 - Yash Raj Films, within four weeks. Upon the service of notice by the Registry, the Respondent Nos.4, 5 and 6 shall also file their counter affidavits placing their stand before this Court, on or before 28th February, 2023. Rejoinders thereto, if any, be filed by the Petitioners, by 15th March, 2023.

23. List on 6th April, 2023, on top of the board in the advance list, for receiving the status report on behalf of the Respondent Nos.2, 2(a) and 3 - Union of India, as also, counter affidavits on behalf of Respondent Nos.1, 4, 5 and 6.

JANUARY 16, 2023