Showing posts with label fair trial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fair trial. Show all posts

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Delhi HC passes important directions to make Court system accessible and to realise Access to Justice for persons with disabilities under Section 12 of RPwD Act 2016 and emphasizes "Active Judicial Conduct" to ensure PwD's actual, practical and meaningful participation in the judicial process and fair trial.

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma

Case No.: W.P.(CRL) 2500 / 2022

Case Title: Rakesh Kumar Kalra Deaf Divyang Vs. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi

Decided on: August 24, 2023

Cited as:  Revised Neutral citation-  2023:DHC:6132  ; 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5261


The petitioner, by way of above writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, sought issuance of appropriate writ, order or directions in the nature of mandamus thereby directing the respondent/State to constitute a Special Court as per Section 84 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and to make the criminal trial he is facing friendly to his disability so that he can participate in it fully.

"It was crucial that this Court examine the question in view of the issue raised by the petitioner herein as to whether the judicial system itself has complied with the requirement of equality apropos a person with disability who is an accused or petitioner before the court of law, while it administers justice." expressed the court.

The Court issued pivotal directions to address the critical issue of ensuring that persons with disabilities can actively participate in legal proceedings. The court emphasized that no citizen should feel denied of justice due to physical or mental disabilities, either because of the lack of appropriate infrastructure or insensitivity within the judicial system.

The case at hand involved a petitioner who had filed a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The petitioner, who had been deaf since childhood and also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder-induced eye cataract and post-traumatic fractured maligned joint stiffness, faced significant challenges in participating in trial proceedings related to allegations against them. The court recognized that these challenges infringed upon the principles of natural justice, contravened the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, and violated constitutional rights.

To address these issues, the court referred to the importance of fair trials as a fundamental right in the Indian criminal justice system, citing the case of Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. State of Gujarat (2006) 3 SCC 374. The court highlighted the need to implement Section 12 of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, which aimed to make legal proceedings more accessible to individuals with disabilities. It also referred to the Supreme Court's E-Committee's Standard Operating Procedure on Preparation of Accessible Court Documents.

The judgment also pointed out the inadequacy of Special Courts under the RPWD Act, as they were limited to certain offenses. The court stressed the importance of alternative methods, such as the use of braille, sign language, and assistive technology, to enable individuals with disabilities to participate in legal proceedings effectively.

Additionally, the court provided a list of infrastructural improvements necessary to ensure accessibility, including facilities like wheelchairs, elevators, and sign language interpreters in courts. It called for judicial education and training to raise awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities, drawing inspiration from the cases of State of Maharashtra v. Bandu (2018) 11 SCC 163 and Smruti Tukaram Badade v. State of Maharashtra (2022 SCC OnLine SC 78.

The judgment underscored the need for a specific provision within the RPWD Act to address the requirements of witnesses, accused persons, advocates, and others involved in judicial trials and proceedings.

To ensure effective compliance with Section 12(4)(c) of the RPWD Act, the court issued various directives, including the provision of essential electronic gadgets, the creation of schemes to address the needs of accused persons with disabilities, and increased public awareness about available resources. The Delhi Judicial Academy was also tasked with holding sensitization programs for judges, lawyers, court staff, and police.

The Court was of the opinion that active judicial conduct to ensure access of persons with disabilities in  the judicial process will ensure achieving constitutional vision of justice of ensuring fundamental and human rights of persons with disabilities and their actual, practical and meaningful participation in the judicial process and fair trial.

In conclusion, the Delhi High Court's judgment emphasizes the importance of ensuring access to justice for persons with disabilities, particularly in the context of the specific case. The court provides a comprehensive set of directions to address the challenges faced by the petitioner and others in similar situations. These directives aim to create a more inclusive and accessible judicial system, thus upholding the constitutional vision of justice. The authorities are required to implement these directives within a three-month period.

Read the judgemnet here: