Showing posts with label Accessibility in Cinema halls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accessibility in Cinema halls. Show all posts

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!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Court of SCPD expresses displeasure on indifference and arrogant behaviour shown by bureaucrats in implementing RPwD Act 2016 [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

The present case is a classic example of how the siloed approach on the part of the responsible officers at the helm makes it extremely difficult for a statutory authority like the Court of State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) to perform their statutory functions.  The Hon'ble Court raises concern in its order in the present case on arrogantly irresponsive, indifference and ineffective approach  which as per the court is indeed a matter of grave concern and can have serious consequences for the persons with disabilities as an extremely proactive approach is needed to facilitate implementation of the socially beneficial Act. 

In the instant case, titled as Case No. 324/1101/2018/06/6061-6064  Dated: 24.09.2019 Suo Motu Vs. Commissioner (T&T), Delhi initiated on the complaint of a decorated Air Force veteran named Group Captain Prabal Malakar (Retd.), who is a wheelchair user and happens to be the Honorary Secretary, Multiple Sclerosis Society of India-Delhi Chapter about the problems of accessibility he faces while visiting hotels and cinema halls in the city. While most respondents took immediate action on the advise of the Hon'ble Court, the respondent  The Commissioner (Trade and Taxes), Govt. of NCT of Delhi who deals with the hotels in the city, did not respond even to several record of proceedings. 

Though the Hon'ble Court of SCPD could have easily enforced the attendance of the respondent under Section 82 of the Act or could have taken punitive provision under section 93 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, it chose to express its displeasure in its order in the following terms: 

"This reminds me of Dr. Naresh Chandra Saxena, former IAS Officer’s recent Book, “What Ails the IAS and Why It Fails to Deliver” in which he describes how the new reforms that are initiated fail to make any impact because most officers resist change and or are indifferent to the poor and the marginalised ones.  In the context of this case and a few others that I have dealt with as the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities during the last two and a half years, much of the deprivation of the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities happens due to inadequate awareness, sensitivity, indifference to their plight and shying away from their responsibility at almost all the levels.  Its preponderance and pervasiveness at higher echelons has most detrimental effect.   

It further goes on to record,  "I am recording my unpleasant experience and the observations in this order with much reluctance and anguish and I am not relishing having to do so. In fact, I am doing so with a heavy heart and under a painful necessity respecting the call of my bounden duty. I feel that I will be failing in my duty if I let go of the lackadaisical approach, apathy and irresponsiveness for as long a period as five months by Commissioner of Excise, Entertainment and Luxury Tax in November 2018 and eight months by the Commissioner of Trade and Taxes in July 2019 only to say that they cannot and would not do anything in the matter coupled with the arrogance on the part of the public authority especially at the helm of affairs. This manifests abdication of obligation and shying away from the responsibility is a matter of serious concern. No effort should be spared to ensure that the credibility quotient of public/govt. authorities is kept at an all-time high if the RPwD Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit."

The Hon'ble Court of SCPD has passed its order as below:
(i) The respondent Department should send out at least a communication to all the Hotels and Restaurants operating in NCT of Delhi and to the President of the Federation of the Hotels and Restaurants Associations of India to ensure accessibility to their premises (built environment) by 15th June, 2022 and provide accessible public facilities and services to persons with disabilities with immediate effect as the date for the same is already over on 15th June, 2019 as mandated in the RPwD Act, 2016 under intimation to the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.  I will of course continue taking up with them as well as with the civic authorities and make appropriate recommendations.
(ii)  I reiterate my recommendation to the worthy Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi that a workshop should be organised urgently for officers at all levels in the NCT of Delhi/Corporations etc. and at regular intervals thereafter to make them aware of  the provisions of the RPwD Act and their obligations under it and review the status of implementation of the provisions of the Act.  Need for such workshops has been brought to my notice by various stakeholders, more particularly by the primary stakeholders based on their bitter experiences and the feedback of the participants of the 9 workshops that this court has organised on the provisions of the RPwD Act and reservation for persons with disabilities in collaboration with UTCS since July 2017.
The respondent is duty bound under Section 81 of the RPwD Act 2016 to inform the court of the action taken on the recommendations made by the court within three months.

Read the Court Judgement in the above Case No. 324/1101/2018/06/6061-6064 Dated: 24.09.2019 here (in Word file)  and here (in PDF file)