Showing posts with label Madras High Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Madras High Court. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Madras HC rejects the argument that victim’s evidence could not be relied upon since she was blind

Madras High Court, rejecting the argument of the petitioner that victim’s evidence could not be relied upon since she was blind, said, “The victim as a blind lacks vision, but her version had vision and hence, this court holds that the evidence of the victim is admissible in evidence.”

According to the prosecution, auto driver Anbu Selvan was hired to transport the victim to her music class. However, he kidnapped her to a secluded location and sexually harassed her besides trying to kill her if she did not cooperate.

Challenging a trial court order awarding a seven-year jail term to him, Anbu Selvan moved the high court. Justice R M T Teekka Raman, however, termed Anbu Selvan as a ‘heartless person’ who had capitalised on the helpless situation of the visually challenged person and sexually assaulted her.

He is not entitled to reduction of sentence, not even for a single day, the judge asserted. Citing circumstantial and other evidence, the judge said, “Merely because of the disability, evidence of disabled persons cannot be treated as inferior in nature.”

Anbu Selvan had also argued, “The identity of the accused was not proved in the manner known to law and since the witness (victim) is a blind, her evidence cannot be termed as eye witness if at all, can be termed only as a hearsay witness which is inadmissible in evidence.”

The trial court convicted him for offences under sections 366 (kidnapping a woman), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 506 (ii) (Criminal intimidation) of the IPC and Section 4 (harassment of woman) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Woman Harassment Act primarily based on the evidence of the victim woman.

Merely because a victim of sexual harassment had visual disability, her evidence against the culprit cannot become inadmissible, said the court, awarding seven-year imprisonment to an autorickshaw driver who assaulted the woman. The court then recommended the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority to grant Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the victim under the Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Loss in earning capacity and not degree of disability is considered in deciding compensation: Madras HC

Madras High Court has while hearing an appeal against a poor disability compensation in a motor accident claim case recently held that while computing compensation in motor accident cases, the loss of earning capacity of the victim should outweigh the extent of disability.

Enhancing the compensation by 2 lakh to the injured driver, Justice R Mahadevan said,  “In cases of compensation, it is not the disability, which could be partial or total, alone that matters. It is the loss in earning capacity as a result of the accident that is to be considered.”
 
In the instant case R Murali, driver of a concrete mixing vehicle, met with an accident in January 2009 and suffered injuries in hip, right leg and ankle. He claimed to have suffered 100% loss in his earning capacity and sought appropriate compensation along with 12% interest.  However, as the disability certificate issued by a doctor pegged the percentage of his disability at 60%, the Deputy Commissioner of Labour awarded only Rs 3.12 lakh as compensation, by fixing his monthly income at Rs 4,000.

The driver, aggrieved by the poor compensation package, approached the high court.  Opposing enhancement of compensation, counsel for the insurance company said Murali could walk and his disability was only 60%. Even though he is incapable of driving, he can go for some other job, the insurance firm argued and sought dismissal of the appeal.

Justice Mahadevan, disagreeing with the findings of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour as well as the submissions of the insurance company’s counsel, said they had failed to discuss the applicability of “total disablement”.

The judge while distinguishing “disability” in medical parlance and “disability” vis-a-vis earning capacity, said, “Considering the injury on the hip, right leg and ankle, Murali can no longer drive a vehicle as he cannot exercise absolute control over it.”

Source: Times of India

Friday, November 29, 2013

Madras High Courts allows Transgender to write PSC Exams after PIL filed

Delighted on this news wherein the first bench of the Madras High Court upheld the right of Equality of the Transgender Community in the matters of employment under the State !


Congratulations to Swapna and yes the First Bench of the Hon'ble TN High  Court!



Here is the news from Times of India !


TN allows transgender to write PSC exam

A Subramani | TNN 


Chennai: It was a tiny relief for Swapna, but a giant leap for the entire transgender community. 

Thanks to the Madras high court, Swapna became the first person in the country to choose her own sex, and get a legal stamp for it, too. Her school and college certificates show her sex as ‘male’, but Swapna has now chosen to be socially recognised as a transgender and be officially treated as a ‘woman’. After she moved the court, state public service commission has now allowed her to write its recruitment test as a ‘woman’ candidate, which will make her eligible for posts such as deputy commercial tax officer and sub-registrar. 

She, along with four other members of the transgender community, filed a PIL in the high court with a twin prayer – one, to direct the Tamil Nadu government to reserve 3% of seats in education and employment for transgenders; two, to direct the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) to permit Swapna to sit for examination by treating her as a ‘woman’. 

On Wednesday, the TNPSC’s standing counsel handed over a hall ticket to Swapna, permitting her to write examination for Group-II posts to be held on December 1 as a ‘woman’ candidate. The venue where she received the hall ticket was no less significant – it was the first bench of the high court.

Source: Times of India 28 November 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Madras HC seeks report on prisoners with mental disabilities


Express News Service - MADURAI  31st August 2013 

Admitting a public interest litigation seeking treatment for mentally affected prisoners, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) has sought a report from the Superintendent of Prisons in Tamil Nadu about the conditions of the convicts and trial prisoners suffering from mental disorders.

The Principal Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice R K Agrawal and Justice N Paul Vasantha Kumar has given two weeks time to the prison authorities to submit the report.

In his petition, N Muthukumar, deputy general secretary of Tamil Puligal, said he was arrested and confined a cell in Block No 1 in the Madurai Central Prison for participating in an agitation on June 13. During his stay in the jail, he noticed that prisoners lodged in Block 2 displayed some abnormalities. On enquiring with long-time inmates, he learnt that Block 2, was dubbed as ‘Maiyam’ (Centre) where prisoners of unsound mind were lodged.

There are 22 prisoners suffering from various psychological disorders and 13 convicts, who are insane, presently in the said block. Every day, prison authorities provide tablets to these inmates but no proper mental health treatment was given citing lack of infrastructure.

Only prisoners who were in advanced stage of mental illness were referred for treatment outside. Sometimes neurologists and psychiatrists visited them in their cells.

Petitioner’s counsel Alagumani contended that the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, the Prisoner Act 1900 and the Mental Health Act 1987 clearly spell out how such prisoners must be treated. But this was violated grossly by the Madurai Prison authorities. In other prisons too similar conditions prevailed.

Hence he prayed for proper treatment for the mentally ill inmates.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Madras High Court reinstates conductor citing section 47 of Disabilities Act

Dear Colleagues,

It is little surprising that the corporations, government departments continue to disregard Section 47 of Indian Persons with Disabilities Act  1995 that provides as under:


"47. (1) No establishment shall dispense with or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service. 

Provided that, if an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits. 

Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever 
is earlier. 
(2) No promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of his disability: 
Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section. "

Despite the clear cut provisions in the Act, Ravichandran, a conductor with the Tamil Nadu State Express Transport Corporation was declared medically unfit to continue in service by a medical board in 2004 and removed from service, though with an assurance of an alternate employment which was refused later.

The Court reinstated the conductor with back wages from the date of his termination citing Section 47 ibid.

Here is the news coverage.



Conductor sacked over disability, gets back job
TNN | Jan 23, 2013, 06.24 AM IST

CHENNAI: About nine years after a government bus conductor was removed from service on the ground of an unidentified 'disability', the Madras HC has ordered his immediate reinstatement with all salary arrears and service seniority.

Justice D Hariparanthaman, ruling on a petition filed by T M Ravichandran, said: "Any employee who acquires disability during his service is given protection under Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. There is a mandate under the Act that no establishment shall dispense with a staff who acquires a disability during service."

Ravichandran, a conductor with the Tamil Nadu State Express Transport Corporation, was found 'medically unfit' to continue in service by a medical board of the Government General Hospital in Chennai on February 2, 2004. He was removed from service on August 16, 2004, with an assurance that he would be given an alternate employment based on the seniority list. On December 26, 2011, however, the corporation rejected his request for reinstatement, stating that no other suitable post was available.

Rejecting the transport authorities' stand, Justice Hariparanthaman said Section 47 contemplated that if there is no suitable post is available, the person should be kept on a supernumerary post till a vacancy arises or till his superannuation. "There cannot be any gap between the disqualification of an employee due to acquiring disability and adjustment in a suitable post," he said, setting aside the dismissal order. The judge then asked the authorities to reinstate Ravichandran in service within two weeks along with back wages from the date of his termination.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Forcefully retired while on leave, cancer patient granted pension

Dear colleagues,

We have seen in the past that several persons with disabilities have been removed from service by forcing them voluntary retirement on acquiring disabilities in contravention to Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

The instant case is of an employee with State Bank of India (Chennai Circle) who was a cancer patient and was forcefully "voluntary retired" while she was on leave undergoing treatment for cancer some 12 year back. The irony is that she continued to fight till 2005 when her gratuity and PF were settled after prolonged representations. However, she was denied her pension and she had to approach the court.

Now after several years of protracted legal battle, the Madras High court has allowed her appeal granting her the pension. Though this is not directly related to a person with disability, however is a good case law in cases where employers take unilateral actions removing employees from service without even informing them. Here is the report.


For cancer patient, a protracted battle for pension is finally won;  Court says voluntary retirement had been forced on the petitioner.

A cancer patient who was ‘voluntarily’ retired by a nationalised bank has won a legal battle for pension with the Madras High Court declaring she is entitled to the benefit.

A Division Bench comprising Justices C. Nagappan and M. Sathyanarayanan granted a declaration on an appeal by Premila Kiruba Augustus. She had joined State Bank of India as a clerk-cum-typist at the Bangalore Main Branch and on her request was transferred to Chennai Circle in January 1981. She was posted as an electronic machine operator from May 1990. When she was on leave for personal reasons, the bank ‘voluntarily retired’ her from service on March 31, 1999. She challenged the order by raising an industrial dispute and after it failed, asked for a reference before the Labour Ministry. This was declined on grounds of a delay. She then made several requests for her pension to be settled. She had completed 25 years of pensionable service. Her gratuity and provident fund were settled in 2005. However, her request for pension was not considered.

Hence, she filed a writ petition. She was not guilty of delay because the bank failed to respond to her representations, it said. She could not pursue her pension claim as her husband underwent a bypass surgery and her father, who was living with her, also underwent a hip replacement surgery and later died. She was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. She sought to declare the bank’s action in not sanctioning pension after retiring her, illegal.

The bank contended that the petitioner had voluntarily abandoned her service. Therefore, in terms of a bipartite settlement, she was voluntarily retired from service. Since, she did not make a request seeking voluntary retirement, she could not claim pension.

In June last year, a single Judge disposed of the writ petition with a direction to settle the pensionary benefits. The settlement was to be made depending upon the outcome of another case before the Supreme Court. This case arose out of a Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling that the settlement in question had undergone a change. Mrs. Augustus and the bank preferred appeals against the single Judge’s order.

The petitioner’s counsel, S. Vaidyanathan, said the case pending before the Supreme Court had nothing to do with the facts of the present case. Since the bank itself had voluntarily retired the petitioner from service, it amounted to deemed voluntary retirement. As a corollary, the petitioner was entitled to pension as she had put in the required number of years of pensionable service.

Writing the common judgment for the Bench, Justice M. Sathyanarayanan said considering the facts and circumstances and the Supreme Court’s decision in Syndicate Bank vs Satya Srinath, which was applicable to the present case, it was of the view that voluntary retirement had been forced on the petitioner. The bank’s contention that she had voluntarily abandoned the service could not be sustained.

There was no necessity to await the Supreme Court’s judgment. The Bench allowed her appeal and dismissed the bank’s appeal.

Woman had completed 25 years of bank service;  She had then been ‘voluntarily’ retired;  Court says voluntary retirement had been forced on the petitioner.

Source: The Hindu

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Madrash High Court questions Commissioner Disability on unfilled backlogs and shoddy implementation of PWD Act

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to inform you that Hon'ble Justice S. Manikumar of  Madras High Court has taken the State Government and even the Commissioner Disabilities to task for not implementing reservations in employment and not clearing the backlog in employment of Persons with Disabilities. Hon'ble Justice has further sought for details of the action taken against institutions which had failed to employ physically challenged on one pretext or the other.

One wonderful intitiative on the part of the Hon'ble Justice! And mind you, almost all dailies today are singing about what Ms. Jaylalita's Government has done for the disabled, to name a few:

(a) 20 early intervention centres for Visually Impaired childrein in age group of 0-6 years in 20 districts at 2 crores rupees cost
(b) Age limit of 45 reduced to 18 years to avail pension.
(c) Free vocational training in all 32 districts benefiting 2400 disabled
(d) Cash awad to pursue high education to Hearing impaired students
(e) Monthly maintennace allowance from Rs. 500 to 1000 to severally disabled

 You will appreciate there is nothing about employment for the disabled and filling up the backlog vacancies reserved for them under the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. The Government seems only wanted to keep the disabled alive on some paltry sum of pensions an some vocational training. The education grants of no use if the Government is not serious in including them in the employment which is evident from the records.

I welcome this step and congratulate the residents with disabilities of Tamilnadu to have such a progressive Justice in the High Court of Madras.

Here is the media coverage from the Hindu:


Court takes on the role of messiah

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S

Thousands of physically challenged people awaiting government jobs could heave a sigh of relief now as the Madras High Court has taken upon itself the task of making every State Government department, undertaking, university and other such organisations follow the statutory reservation of 3 per cent in letter and spirit.

Passing interim orders in a batch of writ petitions, Justice S. Manikumar has directed the Commissioner for Differently Abled to submit in court by June 9 an exhaustive list of details including the backlog vacancies that need to be filled up in every government institution ever since the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act came into force in February 1996.

The judge also wanted the Commissioner to explain why the reservations for the physically challenged had not been implemented uniformly across all government controlled institutions even after 16 years since the Central enactment was passed.

He further sought for details of the action taken against institutions which had failed to employ physically challenged on one pretext or the other.

Expressing deep concern over this attitude of the government officials, the judge said: “If some vacancies meant for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or Most Backward Classes are left unfilled, many organisations, associations and even political parties would raise their voice, protest and agitate. But it is not so in the case of the differently abled. May be because, they do not command such a position in politics.”

He pointed out that as of March 31, 2011, a whopping number of 98,295 physically challenged people were in the ‘live register' of Employment Exchanges awaiting their chance for a government job. But unfortunately, they have been denied of their statutory right despite many court orders including the one passed by the First Bench of the High Court in a public interest litigation petition on February 17, 2011.

Mr. Justice Manikumar pointed out that the State Government had taken 10 years, since the legislation was enacted, even to begin identifying the posts meant for the physically challenged in Group A and B categories in the State Civil Services. The work began only in 2005 though it should have been kick started in 1996 itself and reviewed at periodic intervals not exceeding three years.

Thereafter, a series of meetings were held by the Union Ministry of Social Welfare and details were called from heads of various departments and boards, corporations and companies owned and controlled by the government. But many of them evaded from submitting the details.

It was also found that certain universities and educational institutions, in particular, had not followed the reservation policy.

“Right to live with dignity is a human right. Many of the disabled in India live in poverty and without employment, though educationally qualified. Delayed implementation of the statute is a deprivation of their statutory and Constitutional rights… Let us not forget that even a differently abled person would earnestly believe and expect that the words spoken and written be honoured,” the judge said.

He concluded by quoting Hellen Keller who said: “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.”

Though the present batch of writ petitions related to approval of three teachers appointed in C.S.I. High School for the Deaf at Kottaram in Kanyakumari district, the judge went beyond the scope of the case in order to ensure strict implementation of the 1996 Act.

Source: The Hindu

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Motor Vehicle Act 1988 doesn't prohibit PH to convert motor vehicles as invalid carriages

Dear Colleagues,

I had written in detailed earlier in my post titled  "Disabled and Driving - Can both exist together or at the cost of each other? about this issue and host of other issues troubling the disabled persons in India.

An adapted /altered Scooters or an adapted Car with suitable modification like hand brakes and gears provides an easy mobility to a user with orthopedic disabilities.

People with orthopedic disabilities (especially those with Post Polio Residual Paralysis and those with spinal injuries) often prefer a scooter with side-wheels which is an economic mode of transport. Since almost no major company produces such scooters (called an invalid carriage!!!) in India, people with disabilities have to get the fabrication done through local mechanics and fabricators etc.

Registration of modified car/scooter as "invalid carriage" is most difficult
Registering such vehicles and driving license to drive such (invalid carriage) is an uphill task as the rules and law do not specifically provide for this and leaves room for subjectivity and corrupt practices and it leads to exploitation of a user with disabilities at the hands of middlemen and RTOs.

Such an adapted vehicle is registered as ‘Invalid Carriage’ at the whims and fancies of the RTO. To harass the disabled applicants, the RTO often ask the user to produce a sale letter (form 21) of the Invalid Carriage. Now, since no automobile manufacturer in India supply company-fitted scooter with side wheels or produces an invalid carriage, such a sale letter can not be produced. Here starts the harassment to the user and malpractices in absence of laws due to subjectivity available with the RTOs.

Even when the carriage is registered, the user is given a driving license denoting the vehicle number on the license meaning that the user can not drive any other similar vehicle in case the vehicle goes out of order. This necessitates seeking a new driving license each time with a new vehicle (even if the vehicle is similar),

As per the Rule 126 made under Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (as amended in 2002) the prototypes of all vehicles including the one for the disabled should be approved by the Pune-based Automobile Research Association of India, otherwise no modifications on any vehicle can be permitted and one has to use a vehicle in the same shape and design as supplied by the manufacturing company. This puts an undue restriction on the persons with disabilities and takes away from them their right to free mobility.

Similar is the case for adapted Cars. Previously, Maruti Udyog Ltd. used to manufacture special type vehicles for handicapped persons with suitable modifications/ attachments. As the requirement of different persons with different disability varies, the modifications/attachments also have to be different. Since the prototype of each model has to undergo the test, under Rule 126 of CMV Rules, the manufacturer has stopped production of such vehicles. Hence it is desirable to allow modifications/alterations of vehicles enabling the handicapped to drive their own vehicles.

In such situations, several of our physically disabled friends who have been using their adapted / modified vehicles for their mobility and living a very active life despite their disability have faced harrassment from the RTOs.

Madras High Court provides a Ray of Hope
However, in the instant case, one C. Paulraj, a disabled farmer who modified a Maruti 800 to suit his needs was refused the registration of the vehicle as "invalid carriage" by the Local RTO. Paulraj had converted leg operated brake, clutch etc to hand operated ones since he can't use his legs for the purpose due to polio.

Justice D Hariparanthaman of Madras High Court has ordered that Motor Vehicles Act 1988 did not prohibit any person, including physically challenged persons, to convert motor vehicles as invalid carriages, so long as the alterations do not change the basic feature of the vehicle.

The Honb'ble Justice clarified that changing the leg operated brake, clutch and accelerator into one of hand operation, would not cause a change in the basic feature of the vehicle and asked the RTO to issue permanent registration to Paulraj's vehicle within four weeks.

This is a welcome judgement from the High Court and I am sure this would give much needed relief who suffer in silence due to car makers not providing these options in their designs and they are forced to go to local fabricators to get the modifications done.

Here is the news report:

HC raps transport dept for not certifying disabled man’s car

CHENNAI: It is the state's responsibility to make available 'invalid carriages' for the benefit of the disabled, the Madras high court has said, adding that curtailing the mobility of a disabled would amount to perpetuating inequality.

While directing the authorities to issue registration certificate to C Paulraj, a disabled farmer who modified his Maruti 800 to suit his needs, Justice D Hariparanthaman said, "If the mobility of physically-challenged persons is curtailed, it would result in perpetuating inequality and the object of the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 would be defeated."

The matter relates to the rejection of Paulraj's request to the regional transport officer of Tirunelveli seeking registration certificate for his new car. Paulrak is paralysed below his hip. He had earlier an autorickshaw modified and duly certified. He then purchased a car, which was also modified and duly certified. The problem arose when the RTO refused to certify his new car, on the grounds that only company-manufactured vehicles, and not modified versions, could be certified.

Justice Hariparanthaman, rejecting the submission, said that the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 did not prohibit any person, including physically challenged persons, to convert motor vehicles as invalid carriages, so long as the alterations do not change the basic feature of the vehicle.

Pointing out that Paulraj had changed the leg operated brake, clutch and accelerator into one of hand operation, the judge said such changes would not cause a change in the basic feature of the vehicle. He then asked the RTO to issue permanent registration to Paulraj's vehicle within four weeks.