Showing posts with label disability discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disability discrimination. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Landmark licence review triggered after RNIB, UK complained against refusal to allow entry in restaurant to a blind man with his guide dog

A blind man who was refused entry to a restaurant with his guide dog has instigated a landmark licence review which could set a precedent for disability training in the hospitality industry.

Artur Ortega said managers at Manjal in Canary Wharf told him he could not dine if he wanted to bring his trained dog Mercer inside.

Under the Equality Act, guide dog and other assistance dog owners have the right to enter most premises and vehicles with their animals. READ the guide in PDF Here.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) complained to Tower Hamlets Council on Mr Ortega’s behalf. It has triggered a licensing review, believed to be the first of its kind for a restaurant in the UK. The charity wants conditions added to the diner’s licence, which will ensure staff have to go through training so they know the rules around discrimination against service dog owners.

Jack Holborn, the lawyer the charity has employed for the review, said they do not want to see Manjal, which has since moved to nearby Marsh Wall, lose its licence, but added: “The law is already very clear. What we are asking for is that restaurant staff have training to ensure things like this do not happen. We would like to see this added to all premises’ licences.”

Samantha Fothergill, of the RNIB, said: “This is an area where local authorities can and must use their licensing powers to stamp out this practice. We believe licensing powers can be used to require staff to be trained, to require the display of a sticker welcoming assistance dogs and, ultimately, to revoke licences where refusals happen.”

Mr Ortega, a software engineer, and his colleagues were refused entry to the Indian restaurant last July.

Ms Fothergill said: “When Mr Ortega complained, the manager was called but he also confirmed guide dog Mercer was not welcome. The manager told Mr Ortega that not everyone liked dogs and that he should show some understanding of Asian culture.” Mr Ortega said when the table was booked he had explained he was bringing a guide dog and he told staff that under the Equality Act he was allowed to bring Mercer inside. He said: “I felt completely humiliated to be discriminated against in such a rude way.”

He added that he had been to Manjal before with Mercer and had not been turned away. Naveen Bhandari, from Manjal, later wrote a letter to Mr Ortega apologising for the incident and offered the group a complimentary meal.

He said managers had realised their mistake and were going to allow Mr Ortega to dine there — but in the 15 minutes while they were preparing a table for him he had left.

Related news: Standard dot co dot UK 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

SC says Reservations & Relaxations for disabled - a matter of Govt. Policy; Rejects Delhi & Madras HC view on number of attempts at CSE [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

While hearing Civil Appeal No. 858 of 2017 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 21587 of 2013), titled Union of India & Ors Vs. M. Selvakumar & Anr., a bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court comprising  Sh. Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Sh. Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement dated 24 January 2017 has observed, "It is not in the domain of the courts to embark upon an inquiry as to whether a particular public policy is wise and acceptable or whether the better policy could be evolved. The court can only interfere if the policy framed is absolutely capricious and non-informed by reasons, or totally arbitrary, offending the basic requirement of the Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution."

The bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi set aside the judgement of the Madras High Court and the view taken by Delhi High Court that "increasing the number of attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to General Category from 4 to 7 with effect from the 2007 Examination and not proportionally increasing the number of attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to OBC Category from 7 to 10, is discriminatory and arbitrary".

Judgement

To read the judgement in Civil Appeal No. 858 of 2017 titled Union of India & Ors Vs. M. Selvakumar & Anr  in portable document format (PDF) click here, and in Notepad format click here.

Background

It is pertinent to note that the Madras High Court in its order passed on 24.01.2012 in Writ Petition (C) No. 18705 of 2010 titled M. Selvakumar versus Central Administrative Tribunal and Others had discussed in detail clause-3 (iv) of the Notification for CSE 2008 and specifically discussed the provision which states that physically handicapped will get as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the condition that physically handicapped candidates belonging to the general category shall be eligible for 07 attempts. The High Court had further observed that the number of attempts for the physically handicapped persons in the general category has been increased from four to seven. However, the same benefit has not been proportionally extended to the PH candidates in the OBC community. Considering this to be inconsistent with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India the petitioner M Selvakumar was given relaxation in the number of attempts as had been granted to the PH candidates belonging to general category. However, there were no specific direction of the Madras High Court to quash clause-3 of the notification nor there was any direction to the respondents to make necessary changes in the Rules for future examinations.

The SC bench said "the horizontal reservation and relaxation for Physically Handicapped Category candidates for Civil Services Examination, is a matter of Governmental policy and the Government after considering the relevant materials have extended relaxation and concessions to the Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to the Reserved Category as well as General Category.

The verdict came on appeal filed by the Union of India challenging two judgements of the high courts which allowed Physically Handicapped students of OBC to avail 10 attempts instead of 7 attempts in the Civil Services Examination.

Both the High Court's had held that since the attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to General Category have been increased from 4 to 7 with effect from 2007 Civil Services Examination, there should be proportionate increase in attempts to be taken by Physically Handicapped Candidates belonging to the OBC Category. 

The apex court said when the attempts for exams of Physically Handicapped candidates of OBC Category as well as those of in General Category are made equal, there is no question of discrimination as the candidate belonging to OBC Category has already been given ten years relaxation in age which give them a relaxation of three more years.

"The present case is not a case of treating unequals as equal. It is a case of extending concessions and relaxations to the physically handicapped candidates belonging to general category as well as physically handicapped belonging to OBC category. Physically handicapped category is a category in itself, a person who is physically handicapped, be it physically handicapped of a general category or OBC category, suffering from similar disability has to be treated alike in extending the relaxation and concessions," noted the bench in its judgment.

Both being provided 7 attempts to appear in Civil Services Examination, no discrimination or arbitrariness can be found in the above scenario", the bench concluded.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Delhi Commission for Women issues notice to DoPT for denying IRAS to Women with Disability

Dear Colleagues,

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has on 17 Jan 2016 issued a notice to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Central government, in connection with a complaint filed by a blind woman alleging cancellation of appointment in Indian Railways Accounts Service (IRAS) by the railway ministry due to her disability.

The commission has sought -- within a week -- the factual report of the woman's candidature, reasons for rejection of IRAS service initially allocated to her and the proposed action plan of the DoPT to resolve the issue and compensate.

The woman, who qualified the civil services examination in 2015, has alleged that she was initially allotted a job in IRAS. However, her appointment was cancelled because of her disability and later when she followed it up with DoPT, she was reallocated a job in Postal and Telecommunication, Accounts and Finance Service, the woman alleged.

"While she was allocated the IRAS service as per her rank in CSE-2015, she has now been allocated a job which is in contravention of her rank, merit and preference of service," said the notice issued by DCW chief Swati Maliwal to DoPT secretary BP Sharma.

"It is evident that the lady has already undergone a great deal of struggle and after painstaking efforts has cleared the civil services examination. Crucial time of training and foundation course has been wasted due to systemic delays. Therefore, it is necessary that immediate action is taken to rectify the same," the notice further read.

In her representation to Maliwal, the complainant has said that at present she is pursuing PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. "Born with a weak eyesight, I became completely blind at the age of 6. Surgeries were done but my retina could not be reattached. However, without wasting much time, I started learning Braille and continued with my studies. For this, I had to leave the comfort of home and stayed at a hostel for blind," she said in her representation to DCW.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UK Supreme Court rules in favour of Wheelchair than Buggy in public buses

Dear Colleagues,

You would remember this unique case of a wheelchair user Mr. Doug Paulley who approached the court after he was told he could not get on a bus to Leeds in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair refused to move. Mr. Paulley had argued that operator FirstGroup's "requesting, not requiring" policy was discriminatory. 

Brief of the Case

The appeal concerns the lawfulness of a bus company’s policy in relation to the use of the space provided for wheelchair users on its buses. Mr Paulley is a wheelchair user who attempted to board a bus operated by a subsidiary of FirstGroup PLC on 24th February 2012. 

The bus had a space marked by a wheelchair sign and a notice saying, “Please give up this space for a wheelchair user” (“the Notice”). At the time Mr Paulley attempted to board, a woman with a sleeping child in a pushchair occupied this space. She was asked by the driver to fold down the chair and move; however, she refused, stating that it did not fold down. Mr Paulley had to wait for the next bus as a result. 

Mr Paulley issued proceedings against FirstGroup for unlawful discrimination on the ground of his disability, claiming that FirstGroup had failed to make “reasonable adjustments” to its policies contrary to section 29(2) of the Equality Act 2010. The Recorder found that FirstGroup operated a “provision criterion or practice” (“PCP”) consisting of a “policy… of ‘first come first served’… whereby a non-wheelchair user occupying the space on the bus would be requested to move, but if the request was refused nothing more would be done.” This placed Mr Paulley and other wheelchair users at a substantial disadvantage by comparison with non-disabled passengers. 

There were reasonable adjustments that FirstGroup could have made to eliminate the disadvantage: 
(i) altering the Notice positively to require non-disabled passengers occupying a space to move if a wheelchair user needed it; and 
(ii) adopting an enforcement policy requiring non-disabled passengers to leave the bus if they failed to comply. 

The Recorder found in favour of Mr Paulley and awarded him £5,500 damages. However, FirstGroup went in appeal before the  Court of Appeal which unanimously allowed the appeal and held that it was not reasonable to hold that FirstGroup should adjust its policy so that its drivers required, rather than requested, non-wheelchair users to vacate a space when it was needed by a person in a wheelchair, and then to positively enforce that requirement with the ultimate sanction being removal from the bus. 

Mr. Paulley, went in appeal to UK Supreme Court against the impugned order.

Judgement of Supreme Court

To read the judgement dated 18 Jan 2017 of  The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in FirstGroup Plc (Respondent) v Paulley (Appellant) [2017] UKSC 4, click here.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed Mr Paulley’s appeal, albeit only to a limited extent. Lord Neuberger gave the lead judgment (with which Lord Reed agreed) allowing the appeal but only to the extent that FirstGroup’s policy requiring a driver to simply request a non-wheelchair user to vacate the space without taking any further steps was unjustified. 

Where a driver who has made such a request concludes that a refusal is unreasonable, he or she should consider some further step to pressurize the non-wheelchair user to vacate the space, depending on the circumstances. Lord Toulson and Lord Sumption write concurring judgments. On the issue of the order to be made, this majority declines to uphold an award of damages. Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Clarke also allow the appeal but they would have restored the order of the Recorder in full, including upholding the award of damages. 

Reasons for the Decision 
[References in square brackets are to paragraphs in the judgment]

Under section 29 of the 2010 Act, as a “public service provider”, FirstGroup must not discriminate against a person requiring its services by not providing the person with the service, and it must make “reasonable adjustments” to avoid substantial disadvantage to disabled persons [20-26]. 

The Recorder’s judgment effectively required a policy that could lead to a non-wheelchair user being ordered off the bus [40-45]. The Court of Appeal was right to reject this. An absolute rule that any non-wheelchair user must vacate the space would be unreasonable: there are many circumstances in which it could be unreasonable to expect a non-wheelchair user to vacate a space, and even more, to get off the bus, even where the space is needed by a wheelchair user [46-48]. 

Even a qualified rule (i.e. that any non-wheelchair user must vacate if it is reasonable) implemented through mandatory enforcement would be likely to lead to confrontation with other passengers (not least where the non-wheelchair user vacating the space affected other travellers) and delay [50-51]. Passengers are not clearly subject to a statutory obligation to comply with a policy relating to the use of the space, and would not appear to be under such an obligation to get off the bus if they fail to do so [52]. 

Even though the hearing in the Court of Appeal had proceeded on the basis that it was not part of Mr Paulley’s case [59], the argument that FirstGroup’s PCP should have gone further than it did, albeit not as far as the Recorder concluded, has more force. FirstGroup cannot be criticised for choosing not to express the Notice in more forceful terms: it was aimed at politely requiring non-wheelchair users to vacate the space; there was evidence that “directive” notices are a less effective means of communication with the public; and the use of specially emphatic language should not determine legal liability in this case [63]. 

The suggestion that the Notice should state that priority of wheelchair users “would be enforced” would be false [64]. However, it was not enough for FirstGroup to instruct its drivers simply to request non-wheelchair users to vacate the space and do nothing further if the request was rejected. The approach of the driver must depend upon the circumstances, but where he or she concludes that the refusal is unreasonable, some further step to pressurise the non-wheelchair user to move should be considered, such as rephrasing the request as a requirement (especially where the non-wheelchair user could move elsewhere in the bus) or even a refusal to drive on for several minutes [67]. 

Lord Toulson agrees [83-85] adding that fresh legislative consideration is desirable [87]. Lord Sumption also agrees albeit with reservations [92]. So far as damages are concerned, Lord Neuberger (with whom Lords Sumption, Reed and Toulson agree) concludes that the Recorder did not specifically consider whether, if FirstGroup had simply required its drivers to be more forceful, there was a prospect that it would have made a difference in this case. It is therefore not possible to conclude that there would have been a real prospect that such an adjustment would have resulted in Mr Paulley not being placed in the disadvantage that he was, and so an award of damages is not possible [60-61]. Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Clarke dissent in part. 

As the Recorder found, it was reasonable to expect bus operators to do more than FirstGroup did [102-109]. His judgment did not necessarily require ejection of a passenger who refused to move from the bus nor did it create an absolute rule [106]; [129-131]; [137]. Had the practice suggested by the claimant been in force, there was at least a real prospect that Mr Paulley would likely have been able to travel [108]; [138]. This being so, it was unjust to deny Mr Paulley damages [109]; [160]. 

[References in square brackets are to paragraphs in the judgment]








Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Delhi University gets another rap from Delhi High Court - Fined for defying Section 39 of Disabilities Act 1995 [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

Delhi University was caught on the wrong side of the law once again for defying the mandate of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act 1995. The Hon'ble Delhi High Court in the instant case W.P.(C) 8232/2016 titled Medhavi Krishna v. University of Delhi and Ors., has directed the Delhi University to grant admission to the petitioner - a candidate with 77% disability, while declaring the admission criteria adopted by the University as "unsustainable".

In the instant case, the petitioner had sought a direction to the University to grant him admission under the PWD (Persons with disability) category in the Ph.D programme of Department of Buddhist Studies University of Delhi. The petitioner was one among the 47 students who had cleared the written examination and were called for the interview. He was the only student under the PWD category to have qualified for the same. Post interview, only twenty candidates were declared successful. However, arbitrarily no admission was granted under the PWD category. Aggrieved by the unreasonable & arbitrary denial of admission, the petitioner made representations before various authorities viz. the DU Vice-Chancellor, OSD (Admissions and Research Council) and also the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Head of Department of Buddhist Studies, but it failed to yield any result.

The petitioner left with no option approached the High Court, alleging discrimination on the ground that other candidates who had secured similar marks in the interview were granted admission under other categories. He submitted that the University could not have frustrated the provisions of Section 39 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which mandates all Government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the Government to reserve not less than three per cent seats for persons with disabilities. He had further contended that the minimum cut off marks could not have been fixed after the selection process had begun, as was the situation in the case at hand. The question then to be considered by the Court was then whether the cut off marks of 70, as prescribed by the Selection Committee, was justified. Accepting the contentions put forth by the petitioner, it ruled that fixing of 70 marks as the cut off for the PWD category was “without any basis/logic.”

Noting that seats in the Ph.D course were still available, and that the selection process was still going on, the Hon'ble Judge directed the University to grant admission to the petitioner, and also awarded costs to the tune of Rs. 10,000. 

To read the Court Judgement dated 14 December 2016 click below:


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bombay HC favours aspiring candidates with cerebral palsy for admission to MBBS; Orders re-constitution of Medical Board with 2 Neuro-specialists [Judgement Included]

Dear colleagues,

This petition by two candidates with cerebral palsy who are aspiring to become doctors/ surgeons revolves around three larger questions often faced by many candidates with disabilities aspiring to be doctors:
(a) Whether a person with cerebral palsy can be a doctor?
(b) Whether the 40-70% disability criteria set by MCI for admission to MBBS courses is constitutionally valid ?
(c) Whether  a team of ophthalmologist, a pathologist, an orthopaedic, a general physician and a surgeon can assess the disability of a person with cerebral palsy in absence of a neuro specialist?

The Medical Board set up by State Directorate of Medical Education and Research mechanically assessed the candidates above 70% disability looking at the etiology of their disability i.e. cerebral palsy. The Board did not have neuro-specialists. Hon'ble Bench ordered to re-examine the candidates citing that the Medical Board was not competent to even assess the candidates with cerebral palsy. The court expressed that the Medical Board should include two doctors who have a specialization in neuroscience and asked for re-constitution of the same to assess the disability and to keep two seats vacant for them.  However, it seems the judgement doesn't address the impugned criteria of 40-70% disability!  Another area that is worth our concern is the tendency of authorities to adjust candidates with disabilities in disability quota even when the candidates have scored higher marks in the common entrance test like general candidates. This must be checked at every stage.

It is pertinent to mention that the candidates did not have functional impediment of upper limbs, they had a restriction of the lower limbs while walking. However, since the disability is a result of cerebral palsy, the medical board often indicates all four limbs involved. Same is the case with the List of identified posts by Govt. of India wherein the assessment or identification doesn't highlight the functional abilities as it mechanically goes with categories as One Arm, One Leg, Both Legs. Merely on the basis of slight involvement of limbs the candidates are declared ineligible even where the affected limb hasn't lost its functional competence. (Eg. a person with a deformed feet but with no functional limitation in walking is declared as ineligible for a post not meant for both leg affected candidate.) These inconsistencies in the list of identified jobs and their mechanical implementation by departments is causing more harm than good.

Click here for the Combined Court Order dt 22 Aug 2016 in WP(C) 9299/2016 titled Rajnandinee P. Mane Versus State of Maharashtra and Ors.  WP(C) 9556/2016 titled Rutuja D. Raut Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. 
Here is the brief coverage by Times of India of this specific case.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Travelodge sued for discriminating with a deaf customer with guide dog in USA

Dear Colleagues,

A deaf woman who uses a service dog is suing the Travelodge of La Mesa, alleging discrimination for how she was treated when she tried unsuccessfully to check into the hotel earlier this year.

The Travelodge though did not initially bar her from staying overnight with her guide dog, it demanded that she sign a damage policy form for pets that she and her lawyers say is discriminatory, according to a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court.

When she protested during the check-in process, the desk clerk informed her that she and herguide dog were no longer welcome to stay at the hotel, the suit says. She asked for a refund but was denied one at the time because the hotel stay was booked on Expedia, the desk clerk told her.

The plaintiff, Naomi Sheneman, of Rochester, New York, is alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.

She is seeking a court order requiring Travelodge to comply with policies prohibiting discrimination against the deaf and to train its staff on a regular basis about the rights of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing under state and federal laws. The suit also seeks compensatory damages.

“There are a lot of hotels out there that don’t follow the law and require additional burdens for people with service animals,” said attorney Andrew Rozynski of Eisenberg & Baum Law Center For The Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which is representing Sheneman. “This suit is to show that you can’t have these additional burdens for people with disabilities because that’s the law. To require her to sign this form and say she can’t stay there and embarrass her is humiliating.”

Travelodge said it was reviewing the complaint with its attorneys. “However, we want to make it clear that Ms. Sheneman, who was a returning guest and totally familiar with the policies and rules of the hotel, was not presented any additional requirements because of her service animal,” the hotel said in a statement. “She was asked for the same deposit as any customer and presented the same information that would be given to any guest with a non-service animal.”

The La Mesa hotel said it did not refuse service to Sheneman, and that it “has never discriminated against persons with service animals. We welcome service animals as advertised on our website, and guests with service animals are staying on a regular basis at the Travelodge of La Mesa.”

While the Travelodge of La Mesa does not permit pets, it notes on its website that “ADA defined service animals are welcome at this hotel.” When Sheneman checked in, she was told that a damage deposit for the room was required, which she provided.

But when she was given a form setting forth additional charges to be applied specifically to damage caused by a guest’s animal, she said she was uncomfortable signing it because it “appeared to impose additional terms or obligations on her because of her service animal,” states the suit.

Sheneman was forced to stay at another hotel and ultimately received a full refund from Travelodge of the $185.53 she had paid.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kerala HC: Tax Exemption on Vehicle for disabled is financial privilege different from a Right [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,
A double bench of the Kerala High Court has ruled that a cap on tax exemption on purchase value of vehicles by persons with disabilities can not be termed as discriminatory. The division bench comprising of Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu opined  that the exemption made by the Government in the instant case, was in the nature of concession to persons with disabilities. And this exemption being a part of financial incentive, the Government was well within its powers to impose suitable conditions.

Brief Brackground  of the case

The Government, had by a notification, G.O. (MS) No. 16/98/Tran., dated 31.03.1998, granted a tax exemption for certain motor vehicles, including the luxury cars, being purchased by differently abled persons. However by a subsequent amendment, the Government had imposed a limit to the cap of Rs.5,00,000/- ,on the value of such vehicles entitled to such tax exemption.

Appellant, a person with 100% disability and a wheel chair user purchased a car of a value exceeding Rs. 5,00,000/. He argued that his son was also disabled being mentally retarded, a bigger car of a value more than 5,00,000/- cap was required to manage the daily activities of the family. He contended that limiting the cap on value of vehicles entitled to tax exemption for use by disabled, violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India. 

His writ petition in this regard, before the single bench was dismissed. Aggrieved by the same, he approached the division bench in an appeal.  Dismissing the writ appeal, the division bench observed:- “Be it a classification of discrimination in terms of Article 14 of the Constitution, it applies vis-a-vis the right that has been constitutionally consecrated. In that context, legion are the precedents that the classification or discrimination shall pass the judicial muster as regards the reasonableness or non-arbitrariness.” 

Judgement

The bench opined, “In the present instance, it is only a concession the Government has conferred on physically challenged persons. It being a financial incentive, the Government is well within its powers to impose suitable conditions. In other words, a privilege being entirely different from a right, a Fundamental Right at that, we are of the opinion that the contention of the learned counsel as regards discrimination or unreasonableness does not apply.” 



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

SC slaps Rs.10 lakhs fine on SpiceJet for discriminating with a flier with disability [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

This is in continuation to my earlier two posts titled Jeeja Ghosh, a prominent Indian disability right activist discriminated by Spicejet Pilot dated 19 Feb 2012 and Supreme Court of India issues notice to SpiceJet for deplaning disabled woman dated 05 April 2012.

In a remarkable judgement in a clear case of disability discrimination, a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal of Hon'ble Supreme Court has directed the budget airline Spicejet to pay a sum of Rs 10 Lakh (One Million Indian Rupees) as damages to a flyer living with cerebral palsy, who was forcibly offloaded in 2012, saying the manner in which she was de-boarded depicts "total lack of sensitivity".

The apex court noted that the flier with disability Ms. Jeeja Ghosh was not given "appropriate, fair and caring treatment" which she required with "due sensitivity" and the decision to de-board her was "uncalled for".

"On our finding that SpiceJet acted in a callous manner, and in the process violated Rules, 1937 and Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), 2008 guidelines resulting in mental and physical suffering experienced by Ghosh and also unreasonable discrimination against her, we award a sum of Rs 10,00,000 as damages to be payable to her," observed the Bench.

Ms. Ghosh was offloaded from a SpiceJet flight on February 19, 2012 from Kolkata when she was going to attend a conference in Goa hosted by NGO ADAPT (Able Disable All People Together), the second petitioner in the case.

The bench said the decision to offload Ghosh was taken by the airlines without any medical advise or consideration and her condition was not such which required any assistive devices or aids.

"Even if we assume that there was some blood or froth that was noticed to be oozing out from the sides of her mouth when she was seated in the aircraft (though vehemently denied by petitioner), nobody even cared to interact with her and asked her the reason for the same. No doctor was summoned to examine her condition. Abruptly and without any justification, a decision was taken to de-board her without ascertaining as to whether her condition was such which prevented her from flying. This clearly amounts to violation of Rule 133-A of Rules, 1937 and the CAR, 2008 guidelines," the bench said.

Download the Judgement

  • WP(C) No. 98/2012 Titled Jeeja Ghosh and Anr Versus Union of India and Others 
  • Or Read the embedded Judgement in PDF below:




Thursday, June 2, 2016

HC Order fail to bring relief to disabled MBBS aspirant this year despite clearing NEET [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

In the instant case, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court, in a matter of discrimination on the grounds of disability, the petitioner not only failed to get any practical relief while she missed her crucial year of MBBS even after clearing NEET Examination but also the stipulation that only persons up to 70% disability can be considered for MBBS course remained unchallenged. 

Thus in fact, this case can not be used by any other candidate with a disability  to seek admission in MBBS if he has more than 70% disability. The petitioner has to clear the NEET exam all over again next year thereby wasting her crucial year of life which can never be replenished to her. Is it true justice? Were respondent burdened with any cost for this lapse? How can the petitioner with 80% disability be considered next year again under the same rules that debar a candidate above 70%? What is the guarantee that her percentage of disability will not be used by the respondent to once again to deny her the seat even if she has the perseverance to clear the NEET the next year?

Brief of the case. 

The petitioner, Ms. Sanjana Sinha, when she was seventeen, had undergone amputation of her left leg, and got an artificial leg/prosthetic limb fitted, her disability adjudged as 80%. After qualifying NEET examination, she applied to Faculty of Medical Sciences for admission to MBBS course against the seats reserved for persons with disabilities. 

Although initially she found her name in the merit list and rank list, later she was declared not eligible for admission to MBBS due to her disability, which is 80%. The petitioner challenged this through the Writ petition, by contending that with the external aid/prosthetic limb her disability is less than 70%, within the prescribed range. The petitioner did not challenge the rule limiting the eligibility to 70%!

Division Bench comprising of Justices V. Kameswar Rao and Badar Durrez Ahmed observed “A welfare legislation…… needs to be given a purposive interpretation, inasmuch as to give benefit to a person with disability so that he/she don’t feel less privileged than a normal person. Moreover, we find that the petitioner has a brilliant academic carrier and has also qualified the NEET examination but for the disability, she would have got the admission in the course.” 

The Court also observed that having disability of 80% is a more appropriate case to be given benefit of the Act, since with the external aid/prosthetic limb, the disability would come within the range as permissible under the Regulation i.e. between 40/50-70. 

The Court allowed the Writ petition in following terms: “We may only state here that the petitioner was a successful candidate for the academic year starting 2013-2014. At this point of time, no direction can be issued to give admission to the petitioner on the basis of the said examination. The only direction that can be given is, in view of our discussion, the respondent shall not deny admission to the petitioner if she is successful in a future NEET examination on the ground that she has a disability of 80%.”

Download a copy of Judgement:



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kerala HC quashes HPCL's stipulation denying distributorship on groud of blindness [Judgement Included]

Dear Colleagues,

In a writ petition W.P.(C).No.29046/2013 titled Baby P. Versus M/s Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, the Honorable Kerala High Court vide its judgement dated 30 May 2016 has quashed the stipulation that ‘totally blind person is ineligible’ for LPG distributorship as violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India.

The petitioner, P. Baby of Thiruvananthapuram, a totally blind person, applied for LPG Distributorship at Kodiyathoor in Kollam under S.C.(C.C) category. But his application was rejected by the respondent on two grounds, one of them being that a ‘totally blind person’ was ineligible to apply for LPG distributorship & the other being lack of own space for operating the agency. The petitioner had submitted that he was willing to take on rent adequate space to run the agency.

Quashing a part of the norms formulated by the petroleum company that allowed denying distributorship to persons who are completely blind, the court held that it amounts to violation of the constitutional right to equality before law and denies equal opportunity to blind persons.

In the judgment, the court said if a disability doesn't prevent a person from performing a job, such a disability cannot be the reason for denying the job. Denying a job citing disability can only be allowed if the disability prevents the person from performing the functions associated with the job. Denial of jobs citing disability becomes necessary only in special circumstances such as driving, the court said. 

The petroleum company had contended that if a blind person such as the petitioner is granted LPG distributorship, he won't be able to inspect complaints related to cylinders and that inspection of cylinders to rectify complaints is a job that requires maintenance of the highest safety standards. However, the court said those who formed the norms ousting blind persons completely from grant of distributorships are unaware of the fact that they are able to perform such tasks that require a high degree of specificity. 

Delivering the judgment, Justice Muhammed Mustaque, opined that the above stipulation of classification  was unreasonable, since it  had no nexus with the purpose sought to be achieved. The bench opined:- “The classification in the case in hand appears to have been made based on the broad generalization that the Distributorship can be run only by persons of certain abilities. Such a classification ex facie appears to be unreasonable and unsustainable. Though, the object of such prescription appears to be that in order to carry out day-to-day affairs, constant vision of the Distributors is required. The vision of eye sight, in fact, has nothing to do with the functions being discharged by the Distributors. A blind person is also endowed with a vision. Though, he cannot physically see an activity, with his insight vision he can run a Distributorship. Therefore, the object of classification must have a nexus with the purpose and intent to be achieved.

The modern technological advantages and improvement of social conditions of the blind cannot be ignored while considering the functional duties attached with Distributorship.” The court further elaborated its stand, by employing the Doctrine of strict scrutiny developed by American courts, wherein the general presumption available for a statute,  on its validity cannot be invoked for an executive action, but the onus is cast on the proponent of the classification to establish its constitutionality.

The Court thereupon proceeded, to determine the constitutionality of the stipulation and whether the same   causes reverse discrimination. Answering the query in affirmative the court ruled:-“The blind persons cannot be treated as a separate class except for affirmative action or for the purpose of functional duty attached with an office or post. They are equally competent and have all competitive and cognitive skills similar to the able bodied persons except lacking visionary functions. Therefore, they can be treated as a separate class for the purpose of affirmative actions or for any other purpose relating to the functional competence of the duties attached to the post/office.

As has been noted above, the doctrine of scrutiny casts a duty on the policy makers to justify discrimination and not otherwise. In this case, absolutely no materials have been placed before this Court to justify classification.” Terming the stipulation as violative of Article 14, the court observed:- “The equal opportunities for a blind person cannot be negated unless the functions that have to be discharged by him intrinsically, cannot be separated from his disability, such as persons like drivers or such other functionaries who may require vision for carrying out the function. A blind person would be also able to discharge the same functions as that of an able bodied person without any impediment as far as LPG Distributorship is concerned. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the stipulation in the Brochure that a “totally blind person is ineligible” is violative of Art.14 of the Constitution. Accordingly, the clause as above is set aside.”

Media stories  

Times of India - Disability not a bar for jobs they can perform: HC

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Franklin Institute's policy of charging attendant of disabled patron held discriminatory


Federal Judge orders Franklin Museum to change admission policy of charging the attendant of disabled patron since it would be deemed discriminatory to disabled under the provisions of ADA.

A federal judge has ordered the Franklin Institute to stop discriminating against disabled patrons by making personal-care attendants pay entrance fees.

The court order follows a 2013 lawsuit alleging that the nonprofit museum's policies prevented some disabled people from enjoying all the institute has to offer by charging their caretakers for the price of admission.

Lead plaintiff Michael Anderson has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair with the help of a full-time personal attendant. His attendant was charged at the door and for special offerings at the institute.

For instance, when Anderson tried to attend an Imax screening, he was told that his attendant must buy a ticket, a position that attorneys for the institute defended in federal court for more than two years. They have argued that waiving the fee could, eventually, cause the nonprofit to run a deficit and even trigger layoffs.

"The illogic of the institute's position is as striking as its hyperbole," wrote U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh Jr.

McHugh wrote that he's "frankly puzzled" that the Franklin Institute would resist following the law — the Americans with Disabilities Act — because it could dampen ticket sales. 

"To credit such a theory would not only render the ADA meaningless, but endorse a result inimical to its purposes," he wrote.

According to institute attorneys, personal-care attendants are no longer charged the $19.95 cost of general admission. However in filings, they contend the institute cannot extend the policy to Imax screenings and other special exhibits that have limited seating.

Now, the institute is under a court order to change that. 

The institute provides personal-care attendants with a folding chair to sit in an upper section dedicated to wheelchair seating for Imax screenings. Arguing that waiving the folding chair cost is hurting the museum's revenue is "nonsensical," the judge wrote, since those seats are not available to the general public.

The institute does not keep records on how many people with disabilities are accompanied by personal-care attendants, making the financial impact of waiving the folding chair fee difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the majority of Imax and special exhibits never even reach 50 percent capacity, McHugh wrote.

"No reasonable fact-finder could conclude that an occasional $1 loss to a $135 million organization constitutes an unreasonable cost or an undue financial burden," the judge wrote.

In a statement, the Franklin Institute said it has a long history of serving the disabled community through education and outreach programs. 

"We strongly disagree with the decision," said spokeswoman Stefanie Santo, saying the institute will now "explore all of our options." 

The Miami-based attorneys representing the institute never returned calls seeking comment.

Attorney Stephen Gold, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said without caretakers, many severely disabled people in the Philadelphia area cannot partake in the region's cultural offerings.

"We hope that museums and other institutions throughout the country will modify their policies to conform to the ADA," he wrote in a statement.

Source: Newsworks

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Consent Decree filed to ensure Physically Accessible Polling Centres in Augusta County, Virginia


Dear Colleagues,

The US Justice Department announced today that it has filed a complaint and proposed consent decree today in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia resolving allegations that Augusta County, Virginia has discriminated on the basis of disability by failing to provide physically accessible polling places to people with mobility and vision disabilities. Title II of the ADA requires public entities to ensure that all of their polling places are accessible to people with disabilities.

Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the court, the County agreed to make permanent architectural changes to a number of polling place facilities, and to provide temporary measures such as portable ramps and temporary doorbells at others, to provide accessible polling places throughout the County. The County, which cooperated with the United States, also agreed to revise its policies and polling place survey instrument, and provide training to poll officials.

Click here to read the Consent Decree. However, it throws light that disability continues to be a subject last on the agenda of administration -some times due to lack of awareness and while other times due to lack of enforcement - both in developed as well in developing world. Glad that Deptt of Justice has taken this initiative to make Polling Process accessible to residents with Disabilities in Augusta County and also to create mechanism for monitoring and enforcement for a longer term.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A person with 71% physical disability can't study Medicine - says MCI's resolution!

Dear Colleagues,

The resolution of Medical Council of India  that the disability must be between 40 per cent and 70 per cent to be eligible for admission and for seeking a seat reserved for candidates with physical disability itself is faulty. The degree of disability is a medical model and can not be a conclusive reason to declare what a person with disabilities can do or not do. Then we have highly subjective disability evaluation system wherein two different doctors give different grading of disability to the same person. A person with 71% will thus be technically outrightly rejected for the wrong assessment due to subjectivities involved.

Hon'ble High Court may have given the benefit to the petitioner in the instant case, however, technically even the bench is not competent to decide on the degree of disability, unless doubting the State Medical Board's assessment, it ordered for re-constitution of Medical Board which gave an otherwise recommendation on it. 

At the most, the bench could have expressed its opinion on the discernible abilities of the petitioner observed by them and ordered accordingly. I feel, getting in to guess work of percentage of disabilities is like falling in to the trap of 40-70 percentage set out by the improper and unreasonable resolution of the MCI which is not supported by the disability legislation in the country. This classification has been created by MCI of its own which doesn't stand the test of law.

Here is the news coverage:

Reconsider admission of physically disabled student: HC

A special medical board set up by the state government had found the student unfit for health science courses and ineligible for a seat under the physically disabled quota as his disabilities stood at 88 per cent.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Published on:June 26, 2015 2:50 am

Noting the movements of a physically disabled student inside the courtroom, the Bombay High Court has directed the state government to consider his admission in the first of year MBBS course. The student was earlier denied admission under the physically handicapped quota.

“He (petitioner) has been walking with braces and having seen his physical movements in the court room, we are of the view that his disability cannot be assessed as 88 per cent. His case should be considered for admission to the first year MBBS course on the basis that his disability is between 50 per cent and 70 per cent ,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A K Menon.

Earlier, a special medical board set up by the state government had found the student unfit for health science courses and ineligible for a seat under the physically disabled quota as his disabilities stood at 88 per cent. While under the Medical Council of India resolution, the disability must be between 40 per cent and 70 per cent to be eligible for admission and for seeking a seat reserved for candidates with physical disability.

The HC, however, directed the state government to consider his case on the basis of his marks obtained by him in the common entrance, MH-CET, 2015, for admission to first MBBS course in a seat reserved for physically handicapped.

The student had sought admission to the first year MBBS course in the Government Medical College in a seat reserved for physically handicapped on the ground that his disability is between 50 percent and 70 percent.

He was born on March 18, 1996 and had been suffering from congenital disability involving both the lower limbs due to Bilateral Congenital Dislocation (CHD) of hip and Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (CTEV).
From 1996 to 2004, his father who is a doctor, provided him with treatment and care, including multiple surgeries and physiotherapy.

The boy underwent five surgeries on the deformities and the correction was carried out to the extent that there is no more dislocation of the hip joint.

There were, however, restrictions to the hip joint while doing physical activities of the lower limb. Pooja Thorat, the petitioner’s lawyer, informed the court that the special medical board has examined him without wearing braces. “He, infact, was wearing braces even while studying in school and was himself commuting from his residence to the school,” the lawyer had submitted.



UPSC discriminates against disabled in Civil Services Exam - PIL

HC notice on PIL on quota for disabled in civil services exam
Last Updated: Saturday, June 20, 2015 - 00:58

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Centre and UPSC on a plea by an organisation for disabled persons seeking quashing of the civil services exam notification alleging non-implementation of statutory three per cent quota for handicapped persons.

A bench of justices Mukta Gupta and P S Teji issued notice to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and sought their reply by July 15 on the plea by Sambhavana which has alleged non-compliance of high court's orders.

Sambhavana has claimed that as per the examination notice, approximately 1129 vacancies are expected to be filled, out of which only five vacancies have been reserved for candidates with visual impairment, whereas the Supreme Court in 2013 had held that three per cent reservation on total number of vacancies in the cadre strength have to be reserved against candidates with disabilities.

In its PIL filed through advocates Pankaj Sinha and Nupur Grover, Sambhavana has alleged "blatant disregard" on the part of the central government and UPSC for neither following high court's orders nor complying with provisions of the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) Act.

"The examination is also being conducted in contravention of the guidelines for conducting written examination for Persons with Disabilities notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which have also been held to be mandatorily followed in various judgements passed by this court," the petition has said.

Besides not implementing the quota, it has said UPSC also did not adopt the exam writing policy for disabled on the basis of guidelines of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD).

It has claimed that due to non-implementation of the high court's directions, disabled aspirants are unable to give exams in an accessible environment.

The organisation has said that as per the PWD Act, it is the statutory obligation of the government to "appoint not less than three per cent vacancies for the persons or class of persons with disabilities".

"This implies that the minimum level of representation of persons with disabilities deals with the distribution of this three per cent among the three categories of disabilities namely, blind and low vision, hearing impairment, locomotor disabled or cerebral palsy and hence, one per cent of seats should be reserved for each of the said categories," it has said.

"It is pertinent to note that in the impugned examination notice, the three per cent reservation has not been adequately meted out by Respondent No. 2 (UPSC) and hence, discrimination on the basis of blindness has been clearly shown," the plea has said.

The petition has sought equal bifurcation of the vacancies amongst the three categories as well as directions to the government and UPSC to implement the executive order of Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with respect to "uniform guidelines for scribes for persons with disabilities."

It has also sought "filling up of all backlog vacancies of persons with disabilities arising since 1996 till date".  

PTI/ Zee News



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kerala High Court: Non-consideration of VH candidate by Kannur University illegal

Terming the non-consideration of VH candidate and appointment of another candidate on the post reserved for persons with Disabilities as illegal, High Court has directed the Kannur University to appoint the visually impaired petitioner within two months.


HC to the aid of visually challenged woman

KOCHI, June 9, 2015
K.S. SUDHI

The High Court of Kerala has come to the support of Prasannakumari, a visually challenged woman from Chottanikkara, who appeared for an interview to a post of lecturer in law reserved for disabled persons in Kannur University.

Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar of the High Court ordered Kannur University to consider the suitability of Ms. Prasannakumari “for the post notified by treating her as a candidate who has the necessary age qualification for the post and is otherwise eligible for the post.”

The court also ordered the university to complete the aforesaid exercise within two months.

In her writ petition, the 40-year-old woman stated that she applied for the post of lecturer in law, reserved for the physically challenged, in 2008 and appeared for the interview on October 5, 2011.

Later, she received information that another woman had been appointed to the post.

The petitioner approached the court to quash the appointment and direct the university to consider her for the post.

Allowing the petition, the court held that the “action of the university in not considering the suitability of the petitioner for the post of lecturer in law, under the quota earmarked for the physically challenged candidates, is clearly illegal.”

The court also declared illegal the appointment of another candidate to the post that was intended for physically challenged candidates, consequent to a finding that no such candidate was available.

The appointment of another candidate as the lecture in law was also annulled by the court.

Source:  The Hindu