Showing posts with label National Association for Blind. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Association for Blind. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Mumbai High Court declares BMC circular illegal, directs payment of full salaries to disabled employees for absence during pandemic period

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post  'NAB takes the BMC to High Court for denying full salaries to disabled and older employees during lockdown' detailing the public interest litigation filed by the National Association of Blind after the civic body did not pay full salaries to the 268 visually impaired employees.

Accepting the petitioner's contention that the country’s richest civic body had shown “its inhuman an insensitive face, much to the detriment and prejudice of its physically disabled employees” the Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court, in their 63-page judgment passed on 28th October 2020 (Wednesday),  has held that the BMC's circular and its action of withholding pay during the pandemic were illegal and said, "we direct the corporation to ensure that none of the physically disabled employees, who did not report for duty during the pandemic are denied pay benefits “which they would have been entitled to, but for the pandemic and had they reported for duty”.

On 27 March 2020, the central government through an OM issued by DoPT exempted all government employees with disabilities from reporting for duty during the lockdown saying, "“All ministries and departments are advised to exempt persons with disabilities (PwD) from duties while drawing up roster of employees required to attend to essential services”.

Similar directions were issued by the Maharashtra government on 21 April 2020 exempting disabled employees from attending offices and that the period of absence may be treated as Special Leave without loss of pay. 

On May 2, the BMC announced that its disabled staffers were entitled to a special leave without loss of pay. But, on May 26, it issued a circular  that it was not a special leave, but a permissible leave which requires sanction and involves a pay loss. The circular directed that its disabled employees be given leave which is permitted under the Municipal Services Act. Under this, if these employees have used up sanctioned leaves, they will not get a salary if they don’t report for work. The BMC has nearly 1,150 physically disabled employees, including 278 visually impaired.

The judges noted that while the BMC initially favoured exemption, a “change of mindset resulted in revision of its earlier decision” and it was not backed by tangible evidence of physically disabled employees not facing inconvenience or discomfort while travelling to their workplace or “reference to any incident that could act as a trigger for such decision”. “If the civic body was not inclined to offer financial benefits, like pay physically disabled employees who do not report for duty, it was its duty as a model employer to make special arrangements for public transport or special measures to ensure hassle-free travel for these employees...”

The judges added that the right to free access is a right guaranteed by the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. Although it casts a duty on the state, nothing prevented the BMC as local authority from taking suitable measures for its physically disabled employees.

The judges said the BMC’s ‘flip-flop’ has intrigued them and there was no explanation for it. “This volte-face deserves to be viewed seriously and disapproved strongly.” 

The court said, “The circular requires judicial intervention. The circular and its action of withholding pay is held illegal.”  The Bench said that the payment must be made in two instalments, the first must be paid before Diwali and the second must be paid within 45 days from the date of the first instalment.

Watch out this space for the PDF Judgement soon...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Indian Currency not friendly to Blind, NAB files petition in Bombay High Court

Dear Colleagues,

Coins of various denominations and notes of Rs 100 and Rs 500 have no different identification marks which will help blind persons in differentiating among them claims a petition filed by the National Association for Blind (NAB), before the Bombay High Court. Advocate Uday Warunjikar, who has moved the petition, said: "Under provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act, there are various provisions which have been made by the government for safeguarding the interest of the disabled. Several provisions are also there for ensuring a disable-friendly environment. However, in the present coins and notes it is difficult for persons who are blind or with low vision to differentiate between them."

The petition states that the problems of identification have been aggravated in the last few years. Earlier, blind or low vision person were easily able to identify coins and notes. There were unique marks on each coin; some coins were raised/embossed and tactile. Moreover, on a written request sent by RBI and Mint asking for feedback from NAB on the shape of coins and notes. A detailed suggestion was forwarded to the government in which it was said that there is no much difference between Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes. Coins of Rs 2, Rs 1 and Rs 50 paise are similar, there should be coins with proper borders, different designs, shapes, different textures for avoiding confusion, nothing is being done.

The plea says the suggestions were given last year and it was expected that appropriate decision would be taken. However, till now nothing is being done to address the issue. Earlier, the association would teach blind persons to identify currency notes. Now, it has become difficult to educate them. The petition prays for directions to the authorities to place on record steps it has taken to protect the rights of blind persons to have access to information about the currency notes and coins. Direct the respondents to make changes in the currency notes and coins to help blind persons easily identify them.

Source: DNA