Showing posts with label disabled persons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabled persons. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2012

Supreme Court of India issues notice to SpiceJet for deplaning disabled woman

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post on an incident wherein disability rights activist Jeeja Ghosh who was forcibly deplaned from a Goa-bound SpiceJet flight from Kolkatta in February because the pilot felt she was unfit to fly. On Jeeja's petition, honorable Supreme Court of India has issued notices to the Union Government, Airliner and the DGCA.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai issued notices to the Union government, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and SpiceJet on her petition accusing the private airline of subjecting her to traumatic treatment on February 19 and depriving the organizers of her expertise during the international seminar.

"Jeeja Ghosh has experienced similar experience before. In 2008, she was forced to undergo a medical examination before being allowed to board an Indigo flight from New Delhi to Kolkata," the petitioner said and sought an investigation into the incident.

"These acts of discrimination which have left disabled people very upset have continued unabated despite the enactment by the Central Government of clear and binding directives prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons in air transport," said Jeeja.

She requested the apex court to direct "SpiceJet to adequately compensate the petitioner for loss of money, wasted time and the humiliation and trauma suffered during the unsavoury incident".

This case coupled with the uproar in the disability sector has pushed the Government of India/ DGCA too hard to take a swift action against the Airliner and if required amend the Regulations to include penalty clauses, if need be.

The result has been several meetings with the stakeholders and now constitution of another committee to suggest changes in the existing CAR to make it more inclusive and give it more teeth.We hope this would not be another lip service and another rule book to meet defiance rather than implementation that we see with the existing CAR.

The story has been covered by

(a) The Times of India: Cerebral palsy afflicted woman moves Supreme Court, demands compensation from SpiceJet

(b) The Hindu : Court Notice to Centre, DGCA on deplaning of disabled

(c) The Indian Express: SC notice to SpiceJet for deplaning woman

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maharashtra Govt assures barrier free environment before the High Court

Dear Friends,

 In response to a PIL, Govt. of Maharashtra has promised before the Nagpur Bench of the Mumbai High Court that it will make all the public buildings barrier free. Here are more details from Times of India news report:


NAGPUR: Maharashtra government on Thursday assured the high court here that it would immediately remove all barriers from public buildings to allow smooth movement to physically challenged and the elderly.

A division bench of justices Sharad Bobde and MN Gilani asked the government to file a reply informing about efforts taken in this regard in two weeks and also to furnish details regarding expenditure of Rs 7.60 crore funds released by the Centre for every state for welfare of handicapped and senior citizens. These funds were allocated in October last year for construction of hand rails and ramps in government buildings that are frequently used by people.

The court further directed the state to constitute a coordination committee having politicians and bureaucrats for welfare of such citizens. When the additional government pleader Bharti Dangre stated it might be in existence, the judges tersely asked the government to then "wake up" its members. The bench was hearing a plea filed by a city-based disabled scientist PN Andhare through his counsel Trupti Udeshi who is also physically handicapped.

The petitioner, who is 80% disabled, had filed the PIL through an NGO Indradhanu praying for compliance of Maharashtra government resolution of 2005 that mandated facilities for disabled. Secretary Prakash Sohoni is another petitioner. As per the duo, local authorities including the NMC should make efforts to implement by-laws, guidelines and measures to ensure a barrier-free built environment and non-discrimination in transport for the handicapped and senior citizens.

Even the banks and NMC failed to set up ramps or a guide rail for such persons. Pointing out several lacunae on the roads and footpaths, petitioners claimed that they were laid in such a way that it becomes difficult for both disabled and elderly to move. Encroachments on all footpaths created further obstacles to movement.

They contended that despite Lokayukta's recommendations, the master transportation plan for the city had no provisions for disabled. There was no monitoring system by which implementation of the Persons for Disabilities Act could be verified. Additionally, there was no grievance redressal mechanism by which these issues could be resolved. Citing reply to an RTI query, the petitioners claimed that NMC could not cite even a single government building where facilities were provided for the disabled.

During last hearing, the court asked the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) to conduct a survey of all the government/semi-government buildings in the city regarding such facilities. The IIA has been told to take help of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) town planning officer and submit report in four months.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Delhi High Court questions discrimination in Online Reservation in Railways



HC backs e-ticketing for disabled

Read the news directly from source:
Supporting the idea of e-ticketing facility for the physically challenged, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Railways and the central government on a PIL demanding web reservation for them at concessional rates.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the authorities must first display the sensitivity and that the technical requirements could be taken care of subsequently.

Admitting a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha, a visually challenged lawyer, the Bench directed the counsel for the Railways and Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, appearing for the central government, to explain why facility was denied to physically challenged people.

The Bench dismissed the argument of the Railways counsel that the physically challenged were not given the facility of e-ticketing because of concessions they availed and that their documents regarding the disability were to be verified first.

“How can you place it as a justification? They can always be asked to show documents before they start or during travel,” the Bench observed.

The court will now hear the matter on May 18.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teacher with Cerebral Palsy gets justice from Supreme Court

Dear Friends,

This order from Hon'ble Justice ALTAMAS KABIR,  Supreme Court of India, is remarkable in many sense. The order is indicative of the apathy of certain implementing authorities and lack of awareness and sesitivity even at the level of the High Court when it comes to ensure equal opportunities and rights to Citizens with disabilities.

Click here to access the Detailed Order titled Syed Bashir-ud-din Qadri Vs. Nazir Ahmed Shah &Ors in CIVIL APPEAL NOS.2281-2282 OF 2010, (Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.10669-70 of 2008)

regards
SC Vashishth

Here is the news coverage.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court insensitive to cerebral palsy victim: Supreme Court

In ordering teacher's dismissal, it has dealt with case mechanically

Expressing concern over the shabby treatment meted out to disabled persons while considering them for government jobs, the Supreme Court has said these cases must be handled with sensitivity and not with bureaucratic apathy.

Dealing with an appeal filed by a person afflicted with cerebral palsy, a Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said: “It has to be kept in mind that this is not one of the normal cases relating to a person's claim for employment. This case involves a beneficial piece of social legislation to enable persons with certain forms of disability to live a life of purpose and human dignity.”

Syed Bashir-ud-din Qadri, a B.Sc. graduate, was appointed Rehbar-e-Taleem (teacher) in a government school at Pulwama by the Jammu and Kashmir government under the merit quota for physically challenged candidates. Two committees appointed by the government also approved his appointment after noting that he was capable of discharging his duties. But, acting on a petition from Nazir Ahmed Shah, the High Court set aside his appointment.

Allowing the appeal against this judgment, the Supreme Court said: “The appellant is a person suffering from cerebral palsy and these appeals are the story of his struggle to make himself self-dependent and to find an identity for himself against enormous odds.” The Bench pulled up the High Court for ordering his dismissal, and directed his reinstatement forthwith with all notional service benefits.

Writing the judgment, Justice Kabir said: “It is unfortunate that in spite of the positive aspects of the appellant functioning as Rehbar-e-Taleem and the clear and unambiguous object of the Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, the High Court adopted a view which was not compatible therewith. The High Court has dealt with the matter mechanically, without even referring to the Act or even the provisions of Sections 22 and 27 thereof.”

The Bench said: “Instead, the High Court chose a rather unusual method in assessing the appellant's capacity to function as a teacher by calling him to appear before the court and to respond to questions put to him. The High Court appeared to be insensitive to the fact that as a victim of cerebral palsy, the appellant suffered from a slight speech disability which must have worsened on account of nervousness when asked to appear before the court to answer questions.”

As disability did not impede the appellant from discharging his duties, the High Court ought not to have directed the termination of his services, the Bench said.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Supreme Court of Zimbabwe rules in favour of Independent Voting rights for PWDs


Political Editor

BOOSTED by the recent Constitutional Court ruling nullifying a section of the Electoral Act that required polling officers to assist visually impaired voters to cast their ballots, the local disability movement hopes that the proposed new constitution will guarantee them wider rights.

The Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, recently declared Section 60 of the Electoral Act null and void saying it violates the principle of the secret ballot, in a landmark case brought up by Mr Simon Mvindi, a visually impaired voter, and five others.

The disability movement views the milestone ruling as the first step in upholding the voting and more rights of the blind. People living with disability hope the ruling would stimulate action towards protecting the voting rights of other disabled groups, including the deaf, dumb, the physically handicapped and persons of short stature.

Welcoming the January Constitutional Court ruling on blind voters, Mr Nyamayabo Mashavakure, a visually impaired teacher, said the basis for the holistic protection of the disabled's rights must be enshrined in the new Constitution.

He said while the ruling was plausible, political parties themselves and the Government through the electoral authority, must consider people with different disabilities in developing political communication materials, such as producing television campaign messages in sign language or posters in Braille.

"The people who approached the court on this matter did a very good job," said Mr Mashavakure.

"The ruling is good, not only for the visually impaired but also for everyone who is living with disability. We hope as we start drafting the new Constitution, we will come up with clear guarantees on the wider rights of the disabled, not just voting rights."

It is estimated that 10 percent of any country's population is disabled, which means that about 1,3 million Zimbabweans have various forms of disability.

The country is in the process of coming up with a new constitution in terms of the Global Political Agreement. Although lack of funding has hampered progress, a significant amount of work has been done since the process started early last year with the appointment of the Parliamentary Select Committee, which is charged with leading the process.

Outreach teams are expected to be dispatched across the country in the next two months to collect the people's views on the proposed supreme law, providing an opportunity for special interest groups like disabled people to contribute.

In his court papers filed in the Supreme Court case, Mr Mvindi recalled that on 29 March 2008 he, accompanied by his wife, went to a polling station hoping to cast his ballot in the harmonised election. However, he said he was taken aback when polling officers told him that they, and not his wife, could legally assist him in the voting process.

"I must hasten to point out that with the marital bond between my wife and I, I am not able to trust anyone more than I trust my wife," he said in the papers.

"She has been by my side throughout the whole period we have been married and from the time I lost my sight completely, she has acted as an aide in all my needs. To my utter shock and surprise, I was denied the right to be assisted by my wife."

The Constitutional Court heard his plea and ruled in his favour and his peers. The full bench unanimously agreed that the section of the Act violated the right of the visually impaired to voting by secret ballot and declared it unconstitutional.

"It is ordered that Section 60 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) be and is hereby declared to be ultra vires sections 23A (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Accordingly, Section 60 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) be and is hereby declared null and void, and is struck down," ruled Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justices Wilson Sandura, Misheck Cheda and Paddington Garwe concurred.

Advocate Happias Zhou, who represented Mr Mvindi and others, said although his clients were blind, they were not illiterate. He said that the notion that the blind cannot exercise their voting rights other than in the presence of the persons stated in Section 60 of the Act was clear interference with the secrecy of the vote. He suggested that ideal secret voting for the blind people would allow voters to be accompanied by people they trusted.

It was submitted that in other countries, the visually impaired vote on their own on tactile Braille ballots, enlarged print, electronic ballot and other means.

The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa said he appreciated the need for the changes, but the electoral authority does not have funds to ensure that the special ballot papers, electronic ballots are made available.

Mr Mashavakure said most people who are visually impaired shunned voting for fear of possible political reprisals because the Electoral Act required them to disclose their political preferences to polling officers, who are essentially strangers to them.

He said if the Government does not have resources to provide special voting materials for the blind, it must allow the visually impaired to be assisted by their own aides during voting, even on common ballots. This, he said, removes the expense from the Government and places it on the disabled voter.

He said the new constitution must have a non-discriminatory disability clause as opposed to the current one, specifically Section 23 of Constitutional Amendment Number 17, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of physical disability only.

"Physical disability is not the only form of disability," he argued.

"There is also the question of language. If you look at the Kariba Draft for instance, it gives languages that are spoken in the country like Shona, Ndebele, Venda and others. However it leaves out one important language - sign language."

He said the National Constitutional Assembly draft has also its limitations.

"Its disability clause, which is Section 41 I think, gravitates towards the medical model of disability. It suggests that people living with disability are sick or something like that, but it must be known that they were ill at the point that caused their disability, but are now fine. So the constitution must be general in its articulation of disability, not specifying things like 'physical disability' or 'protecting oral languages', excluding sign language."

Mr Tsarai Mungoni, programmes officer (research and advocacy) at the National Association of the Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (Nascoh) said disability rights must be clearly spelt out in the Bill of Rights, adding that the Government must assist the disabled with social grants.

"Disability is expensive to manage," he said, "so people with disability need a social protection scheme in form of a disability grant, to be given to any disabled person, whether they are employed or not. This will serve to mitigate against disability-induced poverty. The Constitution must also clearly provide for affirmative action in terms of economic empowerment, education and representation in private and public sectors."

Mr Mungoni, who is a member of the Thematic Committee on Disability in the Select Committee, decried the fact that out of a population of 1,3 million disabled people in the country, about 20 of them are in the sub-committee of the handicapped.

He added that even in Parliament, there is no MP representing the disabled.

"That is where it starts — lack of representation," he said. "But we are saying the constitution must state a quota to be held by the disabled in Parliament and other critical areas."