Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bombay & Chennai HC allow admission to disabled students in MBBS

Dear Friends,

In two different cases, the Bombay and Chennai High Courts have directed the MCI to give admission to students with disabilities in MBBS course. Here are both the cases:

Case No. 1 at Mumbai

Published: Thursday, Aug 5, 2010, 1:44 IST
By Mayura Janwalkar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA  

Just days after it told the state government that the latter needed to change its mindset in accommodating the disabled, the Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the state to grant a 19-year-old physically challenged student provisional admission to an MBBS course.

Khan Mohammed Tarique Mehmood, who has a lower limb disability, had moved the high court after he was denied admission to the course in the physically handicapped category.

The Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER) had refused admission to Mehmood on grounds that he suffered from a disability of more than 75%. As per the Medical Council of India (MCI) rules, a person with locomotive disability of lower limb (more than 50%) can not apply for MBBS.

However, in his petition before the court, Mehmood had contended that his disability was certified as 50% by the All-India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIIPMR). Moreover, Mehmood had also stated that he stood seventh in the state in the handicapped category in the common entrance test conducted by the government.

According to Mehmood, the DMER’s decision was contrary to the certificate issued by the IIPMR, which is a central government institute named in the DMER’s admission brochure. A bench presided by chief justice Mohit Shah admitted the petition and granted provisional admission to Mehmood in an interim order.

On August 2, the court granted provisional admission to a visually challenged girl who wished to pursue a career in physiotherapy.

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Case No. 2 at Chennai


Disabled girl wins court battle for MBBS admission
TNN Oct 2, 2011, 03.31AM IST

CHENNAI: In a major victory, P Divya of Royapuram has won a court case which will now enable disabled students across the state - other than those with locomotor disability in the lower limbs - to seek admission for an MBBS course. The Madras high court has directed the directorate of medical education (DME) to provide Divya admission to the MBBS course for this year.

After applying for a medical seat under the special category (orthopaedically physically disabled), Divya attended counselling on June 30, 2011. Medical council of India (MCI) regulations stipulate that only people with 40-70% locomotor disability in the lower limbs are entitled to 3% reservation for MBBS admission under the Persons with Disabilities Act (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act), 1995. Though she produced a disability certificate from the regional medical board, government hospital, Chennai, it was not accepted by the selection committee.

"They did not give us a proper reason for rejecting her so we filed a writ petition," counsel for petitioner R Prabhakaran said. When the petition came up in the HC, Justice D Hariparanthaman had directed DME to ascertain Divya's disability and also ordered that one seat be kept vacant. She was sent to another regional medical board at GH, which gave a certificate on July 19.

This certificate said she suffered from a spinal deformity due to which she had a torso imbalance and a total physical permanent disability of 46%. If the certificate was read to the effect that Divya suffered locomotor disability above 40%, she was entitled to admission under the 3% reservation category, he added.

Passing orders, Justice D Hariparanthaman said the reservation provided only to persons with locomotory disability in the lower limbs was in violation of the Persons with Disabilities Act. He quashed the notification and directed MCI to include other categories of disabled persons, more particularly those with disabilities above 40% in its regulation.

Bombay High Court Asks Government to Change its mindset on PH


Change your mindset on physically challenged: Bombay high court tells govt

Published: Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010, 2:29 IST
By Mayura Janwalkar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA  


Krutika Purohit, 17, had nursed the dream of being a physiotherapist since she was nine.

However, with her visual disability, clearing the MHCET for pursuing a degree course in physiotherapy with a good score and obtaining “provisional admission” to the course, has been no cakewalk.

Purohit, perhaps the first visually challenged student to get admission into the four-year degree course in physiotherapy, found an ally in the Bombay high court recently.

The court told the directorate of medical education and research (DMER) that earmarking seats under Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995, serves no purpose without a change in mindset.

"This mindset has to change. You have to feel from within. Every family has a person with some disability. You have to lend a helping hand," justice SC Dharmadhikari said. "They (persons with disabilities) too are mainstream students. You (state government) are not lowering any standards for them.”
Purohit and the Indian association of visually impaired physiotherapists had moved the high court after Purohit was barred from taking MHCET exams owing to her disability.

Although the court allowed Purohit, a Khar resident, to appear for the MHCET examination on April 23, her way to becoming a physiotherapist was far from clear. Purohit's advocate Kanchan Pamnani, herself visually impaired , said the DMER was wrongly applying rules to the physiotherapy course.

The MCI rules say a person with locomotive disability of lower limb (50%-70%) can apply for MBBS courses. But in this case, the authorities did not apply their mind if a visually impaired person could study physiotherapy.

Assistant government pleader GW Mattos said the government would take progressive steps but Purohit's case should be referred to the council of the Maharashtra university of health sciences.

The court also directed the chief commissioner of disabilities to issue directions to universities within two months.

Reservation for Mentally Challenged Persons



Posted: Wed Jul 21 2010, 02:46 hrs

Why isn’t there any reservation for mentally retarded people in Mohali’s Aerocity project? Raising this vital question a 39-year-old resident of Punjab, who has been suffering from mental illness for the last 15 years, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding separate reservation for mentally retarded persons other than the reservation for physically disabled.

Taking stock of the petition and considering it to be a question of public importance, Justice Surya Kant has issued notices to the state and referred the petition to be taken up as public interest. Hearing on the plea has been deferred to August 11. Arguing on behalf of petitioner Gurcharan Singh, advocate R S Bains has sought directions to the state of Punjab to “to include mentally challenged ain the category of disabled persons since the Act does not differentiate between the physically and mentally disabled as far as affirmative actions by the state are concerned”. Vehemently arguing and terming the reservation policy as “non violative” of the guidelines laid down, Bains has sought directions “to modify the consolidated reservation policy for allotment of houses and plots for physically handicapped or the visually impaired”. The petitioner has also demanded that a “fresh and comprehensive scheme for fulfilling the mandate of Disabilities Act” shall be formulated.

The petitioner has been suffering from mental illness since 1985 and is undergoing treatment at PGIMER, Chandigarh, could not apply under the reserve categories due to the anomaly in the policy and the advertisement and had to apply in the general category.

“This relief shall be provided to all the similar situated persons and also to earmark at least one seventh of the plots (category wise) exclusively for the mentally ill persons (out of the three percent plots collectively reserved for physically handicapped/ blind persons) for which the authorities have invited applications in the Aero City, Mohali and for grant of any other relief,” Bains demanded. The petitioner has demanded separate reservation for mentally ill persons other than the reservation already prescribed for physically disabled persons.

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rights of Students to see their answer sheets confirmed by SC


Dear Friends,

The Supreme Court has finally confirmed that all students have a rights to inspect and get a photocopy of their answer sheets after their evaluation under the RTI. I see this particularly coming handy to lakhs of students and candidates with disabilities, whose results are often withheld by the examining bodies in an attempt to thwart their induction/recruitment.

I have several of such experiences, where my clients with disabilities were subjected to this silent discrimination. And it was only after our seeking the details of marks obtained under RTI Act, that the malady came to fore. But, the boards did not allow us to see our copy whether what they said was correct. This is going to be a great deterrent for the authorities/examining bodies especially in the recruitment examinations, to discriminate against persons with disabilities or practice a biased approach.

regards
SC Vashishth   

To read from source click the link below:


They have the right to inspect and photocopy their answer sheets after their evaluation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

Submitted on 08/10/2011 - 12:16:47 PM

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that students have the right to inspect and photocopy their answer sheets after their evaluation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The apex court bench of Justices RV Raveendran and AK Patnaik allowed the disclosure of the answer sheets of the examination conducted by boards, universities, institutions and public service commissions, when it upheld the Calcutta High Court judgment that permitted the students to inspect their answer sheets.

The apex court pronounced its verdict saying that evaluated answer sheets come under the definition of "information" and reiterated the duty of the public authority under the transparency law to allow maximum disclosure as envisaged by the RTI Act.

The case reached the apex court from high court which by its March 28, 2008, judgment permitted a student, Pritam Rooj, to inspect his answer sheets. Rooj was a student of mathematics in Presidency College.

In 2006, when he sat for the first part of degree examination he secured 52 per cent marks. In the second year he got 208 out of 400 marks and got just 28 marks out of 100 in fifth papers. Upon seeking revaluation, his marks increased by four in the fifth paper.

He contended that his poor marks stood in the way of his getting admission in post-graduation course and applied to inspect his mark sheet under the RTI law which was rejected.

The university said that the answer sheets of an examinee cannot be shared. The High Court overruled it. The order was challenged in apex court by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, among others.

Friday, August 5, 2011

OBC seats can’t be converted into general ones

A Supreme Court bench said conversion of seats reserved for OBC to general category seats in central educational institutions was not permissible

New Delhi: Conversion of seats reserved for students belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) to general category seats in central educational institutions was not permissible, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The apex court bench of Justice RV Raveendran and Justice AK Patnaik said this while reserving its verdict on a petition by PV Indiresan, former Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.

The petitioner challenged the September 7, 2010, verdict of the Delhi High Court which said that the minimum eligibility marks for admission under the OBC category would be 10 per cent below the minimum eligibility marks fixed for general category students.

The process to take away the OBC seats for conversion into general category seats was not permissible, Justice Raveendran said, reports IANS.

The court said this when senior Counsel KK Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner, said that in case the court decided the issue against him then it must ensure that 50 per cent seats earmarked for general category students were not encroached upon by OBC candidates even if some of them entered a university by taking the merit route.
When a lawyer referred to Justice Raveendran's observation that rules of the game couldn't be changed after its start, the judges said that what they meant was that it had to be decided in advance at what point the process of the admission of the OBC students under the reserved category would start and what would be the cut-off marks.
Venugopal sought to make a distinction between the reservation for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the OBC and said they could not be placed at par because social ostracism suffered by the former did not visit the latter.

Justice Patnaik asked Venugopal that when the law used the same language for extending reservation to the OBC as it did in the case of SC/ST, then how he could interpret it differently.

While reserving its verdict, the court gave all the contending parties time till Monday to submit their written submissions.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Disability pension only if disability is attributable to military service, rules SC

Dear Friends,


Please refer to my earlier post dated 28 October 2010 when Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that a Soldier should be entitled to disability pension if disability occurs during service, even while on leave - whether or not it is attributable to military service.


However, after the Army went in appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the SC in a recent judgement has clarified that for the injury not attributable to the military duty, the defence personnel are only entitled to full normal pension and not to any additional disabilty pension!


To read the news from source click here: The Hindu


regards
SC Vashishth, Advocate

“Disability pension to soldiers only if injury sustained on duty”



For injury not attributable to the service, personnel only entitled to full normal pension!
A military personnel is entitled to ‘disability pension’ only if the injury is sustained during the course of military duty and not for one sustained in an accident when he is on leave, away from the place of work, the Supreme Court has held.  A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and A.K. Patnaik said if the injury was not attributable to the service and was not connected with the service, a personnel would only be entitled to “full normal pension” as per the regulations.
In the instant case, the respondent Jujhar Singh joined the Army in 1978. On March 26, 1987, when he was on annual leave to his native place, he met with an accident and sustained severe injuries and was admitted in a hospital from March 26 to January 20, 1989.   Initially, his disability was assessed at 20 per cent and later at 60 per cent and he retired on July 1, 1998 and was granted full normal pension.  His plea for disability pension was awarded by a single judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and confirmed by a Division Bench. The present appeal by the Union of India is directed against this judgment.  
It was argued by the Centre that the injuries sustained by the respondent were not attributable to the service and were not connected with it.  The disability had neither occurred in the course of employment nor attributable to or aggravated by military service and hence, he was not entitled to disability pension.  Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court said: “It is not in dispute that the respondent was on annual leave when he met with a scooter accident as a pillion rider and sustained injuries at his native place. He was not on military duty at the time of the accident in terms of Para 12 (d) of Entitlement Rules, 1982.   ‘
“In view of the same, the injuries sustained cannot be held to be attributable to the military service. The opinion of the Medical Board makes it clear that the injury, particularly, the fracture, is not attributable to service and it is not connected with service.”   Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said the disability of the respondent was not covered under Regulation 179 of the Pension Regulations for the Army (Part I) 1961.  The Bench said: “The medical authorities have recorded a specific finding to the effect that the disability is neither attributable to nor was aggravated by the military service. This fact has not been appreciated either by the Single Judge or by the Division Bench of the High Court.”

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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deaf seek level field on disability


Dear Friends,
Issues of bias within disabilities is becoming a regular discussion point. Though the disability groups try to avoid such a conflicting situation among disabilities and pose a unified front to advocate for their rights, however these issues are now open secrets. The bureaucracy and employers are taking advantage of this and openly discriminating in favour of one disability and against the other while filling up the disability quota provided by the law.
We have seen in the past that the person with less disability is preferred to fill up the vacant job quota. Often those with less than 40% disability (as required by law)  with fictitious certificates claiming to be 40% disability get in to the quota leaving the actual needy stakeholders in lurch. The employers raise no voice because the get (at least that is what the employers think) a more able?? and efficient??? employee in the disabled category which they have to adhere to in terms of The Persons with Disabilities Act. This is one side of the issue.
The other side of the issue is that there is open discrimination within disabilities that currently are eligible to be considered against disability quota in the Government jobs. Those who minor physically disabilities are preferred to those with more severe physical disabilities (such as a crutch user is preferred to a wheel chair user or those with Post Polio Residual Paralysis are preferred to those with Cerebral Palsy, a partial hearing impaired with speech is preferred to deaf, low vision is preferred to blind and likewise..). 
However,  in employment, it is the deaf who get left out. The results of past five years of UPSC exams conducted for Civil Services indicates this bias very categorically. There has to be a mechanism to address such discrepancies which only leads to rivalry among the disability groups. The currently disability law in India only provides for reservation in employment @ 1% each for the Hearing impaired, Low Vision & Blind and Orthopedic impaired. And now we are already witnessing many other groups who have been left out for various reasons from this ambit, raising their concerns vociferously in the consultations being organised for finalizing a new disability law for India in tune with new UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Government should evolve a clear cut mechanism to check discrepancies and subjective biases so that transparency is maintained and justice is done to the stakeholders.  The issue brought out before the court by Deaf Employees Association is an indicator that all is not well and soon you may find courts flooding with similar petitions from other groups. 
regards
SC Vashishth, Advocate
Here is the news item:

Mar 19, 2011, 03.52am IST


NEW DELHI: The hearing impaired on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking parity with the blind and other physically challenged people in government service in promotions and allowance entitlements.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar wanted petitioners — "Deaf Employees Welfare Association" and " Railway Employees Association of Deaf and Dumb" — to make a representation to the ministry of social justice and empowerment about their grievance.

However, solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, taking note of the complaint of discrimination by the hearing impaired government employees, agreed to entrust the concerned department to examine the issues raised by the petitioner through advocate Kamal Kumar Pandey.
The bench asked the two associations to give the SG a copy of their petition and wanted the ministry concerned to report back to the court with its stand in four weeks.
Quoting Article 41 of the Constitution obliging governments to provide effective mechanism and public assistance to disabled people, the petitioners said prior to 1995, there was no specific legislation to address the rights and needs of the disabled people.
The governments confined their efforts to providing medical rehabilitation and removal of the stigma limited to visible disabilities like blindness, orthopaedically handicapped and leprosy, they said.
However, the concept of disability and the social attitude towards it has undergone a radical change since India signed the "Proclamation for Disabled, Full Participation and Equality for Asia and Pacific Region" in 1992. The Centre framed a national policy for disabled in 1993, which was revised in 2005, and provided 3% reservation to blind, hearing impaired and locomotory disabled people in government jobs.
However, the approach of the central and state governments underwent very little change and they have been discriminating against the the deaf employees by not providing them travelling allowance, on-job training and promotions on a par with the blind and orthopaedically handicapped.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deaf Can Now Legally Drive in India

Dear Friends,

While the activists and disability rights workers are actively engaged in writing, commenting, criticizing and suggesting on the New Disability Act, this success for the deaf people of India has silently knocked their doors. I have been closely following this case filed by Human Rights Law Network since September 2009 when it was admitted (click here to read my first post in Sep, 09) after an aborted attempt on an earlier date.  

I am so delighted to share with you all that after a wait of several months(click here to read Nov 2009 post)  finally yesterday i.e. on 14th February 2011, the double bench of  Hon'ble Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, of Delhi High Court delivered their judgement. (Click here to read the judgement)

You will notice that the judgement doesn't speak a single word against the Union of India nor against the existing system of issuing licences, yet beautifully carves out a way that deaf people in India can not be discriminated against merely on the basis of their disability!

The Question in Form 1-A [which deals with medical certificate and relates to Rules 5(1), 5(3), 7, 10(a), 14(d) and 18(d)] of MV Act 1988  that was filled up by the doctor,] i.e. "In your opinion, does the applicant suffer from a degree of deafness which would prevent his hearing the ordinary sound signals? " has become irrelevant in light of this judgement! 

The Hon'ble Judges have, without making any comment on the  stand /defence of the Government of India in the case, simply reproduced the same to amuse the readers. I am reproducing  the  major defences of the Government of India for your amusement. For your information these defences are  based on a conclusion of a meeting of all relevant officials from various ministries including Road Transport, Health etc:

(i) Indian roads have far more hazards than in those countries which have been referred to in the petition.  This is evident from the fact that there is highest number of road facilities worldwide occurring due to road crash in India.  Indian roads have dense vehicle population.  The pattern of driving is also mix.  Besides, there is also lack of traffic discipline.  While using the roads, it is predominantly required to give audio signal to the vehicles around to caution other drivers or for giving way.  Such situations are not seen in developed countries.
(ii) Use of rear view mirror may not be a full proof solution because vehicles often are not fitted with such mirrors on both sides. Even if they are fitted on the vehicle, the users often fold them back.
(iii) In case of hilly roads, it is mandatory to blow horn on the sharp as well as blind corners.  The driver would be in a dangerous position if he is unable to hear the audio signal.

(iv) While driving the vehicle, inside noise, such as running of engine, tyre noise etc. is an indicator for the health and safety of the vehicle.  The deaf person will be in an unsafe situation because he will not be able to gather these signals.

(v) Luxury vehicles are often fitted with audio systems.  Loud music inside the vehicle may pose unsafe situation but purely by the choice of the driver and hence, cannot be made a ground for allowing deaf persons to drive.
(vi) The UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities does not qualify the extent of deafness.
(vii) In developed countries, there is a system for imparting training to deaf people in order to obtain driving licence.  There is no such system prevalent in the country.

(viii) International Driving Permit is valid for one year only and thereafter even a foreign national is required to obtain the driving licence afresh as per the existing rules and regulations in the country.  Thus, analogy given in this regard between the foreign national and Indian national is not correct.
(ix) Every year a large number of accidents took place in the country involving motor vehicles on roads.  Many of them prove to be fatal.  During the year 2007 alone, there were around 4.8 lakhs road accidents which killed around 1.15 lakh people and injured more than 5 lakhs person in India.  While the Government has been making all efforts to bring down the rate of accidents substantially, it cannot afford to take the risk of endangering the lives of deaf drivers as well as other road users.

And finally this Committee opined:  "Hearing levels up to 60 db with use of hearing aid in better ear may be permitted for issue of driving licence for private vehicle and hearing level up to 40 db with hearing aid in better ear may be permitted for issue of driving licence for commercial vehicle.  Persons suffering with severe and persistent vertigo should not be issued a driving licence."

This was like only reiterating what existed earlier!

The Judges in the operative para of the judgement categorically stated the statutory requirement,  "However, we are obliged to certify that if an applicant is totally deaf, he has to be called for the test if he applies for a learner‘s licence without the medical certificate and if he passes the test as required under Rule 11, he  shall be granted the learner‘s licence as that is the statutory requirement.   Similarly, if a person belonging to the said category satisfies the necessary  criteria, he shall be allowed to obtain the licence."

The judges refrained from making any comment on the important issues raised in the writ petition or criticizing the government action. Also they refused to take liberty to enter the domain of legislature on the prayer of changing the policy on the subject and said insegregable facet of the basic structure of the Constitution of India. 

This gives sufficient indication to the Government of India to appropriately change their discriminatory and restrictive practices against persons with hearing impairment. We hope the Government will take appropriate steps to set the malady right.

At my personal level, being a lawyer, I was looking for some strong words from the Hon'ble Court on the conduct of the so called committee of technical people who opined that the deaf can be danger to public without even appreciating the documents on record! However, the court did not comment on any issue that could have directly targeted any government official.

So, silently the purpose has been achieved. I hope the systemic changes will also take place and Deaf people will not be harassed while seeking valid licences.  

Now a passing remark from a stakeholder, "At least now deaf people would be able to drive legally with valid driving licence. Who bothers about going and taking a driving test, when driving licences can be bought through middlemen without even going to RTO in other states, if not in Delhi!"

The jobs doesn't end here. After this judgement, the major work is to spread the word around about this judgement and get the relevant rules changed in all states and union territories across the length and breadth of India. The DPOs and activists have this major role to perform. I want to congratulate my senior colleague Shri Collin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Advocate and their team for so successfully taking up this case which is almost like re-writing the rules of equality - at least for deaf people of this country. I am sure, my friend Arun Rao and friends from National Association of the Deaf would agree to this. Congratulations to one and all!

regards
SC Vashishth
Advocate, Disability Rights

Read newspaper coverage in Hindustan Times at link: 


Hearing impaired can drive: HC

Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 15, 2011
In a landmark judgment benefiting 50 million people in the country, the Delhi high court on Monday said people with hearing impairment can also drive.

If they meet the necessary criteria and pass the test, they will be given driving licences and allowed to drive, the high court said.

Hitherto, deaf were barred from appearing in driving tests as the archaic Motor Vehicles Act considered them a source of danger to the public.

A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said, “Even if an applicant is totally deaf, he has to be called for a test. Even if he applies for a learner’s licence without a medical certificate and clears the test, he should be granted a learner’s licence. 

The order comes in a two-year-old PIL by the National Association of Deaf seeking direction to allow them to obtain a driving licence.

Human rights activist and lawyer Colin Gonsalves who argued the case on the behalf of the deaf said: “It is a historic judgement. Till now, deaf was presumed to be incapable of driving and were automatically debarred from even sitting for a test. He said deaf are allowed to drive all over the world, except in 26 countries.

Defending denial of license to deaf, the Centre cited the prevailing road manners in India and the frightening accident rate, the highest in the world. It said a special meeting of Central Motor Vehicles Rules- technical standing committee convened on December 9, 2010, which considered the PIL, had reaffirmed the decision. Court, however, refused to direct special conditions permitted by other countries for grant of licence to deaf saying it was the duty of the legislature.