Monday, July 10, 2023

Karnataka HC- During the exam, facility of Scribe and Option of objective type questions can be availed by other disabilities too, not just by candidates with hearing impairment.

Court: Karnataka High Court, India

Bench: The Hon'ble Mr. Prasanna B. Varale, Chief Justice and The Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.G.S. Kamal

Case No: Writ Appeal No. 722 OF 2023 

Case Title: Karnataka State Law University Vs.  Krishna

Date of Judgement: 10-07-2023


The Karnataka High Court dismissed an appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University challenging a single bench order directing it to conduct III Semester exam for a differently abled Law student, by providing objective type of questions instead of descriptive type of questions.

It said that the overall object of the MSJE Exam Guidelines for persons with disabilities  needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system and that there is no stringent distinction based on the nature of disability in Exam Guidelines for alternative objective exam for students with disabilities.

Krishna, having 46% overall impairment affecting both brain and eyes, is pursuing his five years integrated law degree at Vaikunta Baliga Law College. Since he was unable to write by hand as such for the I Semester exam he utilized the facility of scribe. He was, however, informed by the college that unless permission was granted by the University, it cannot permit him to take the help of a scribe for examinations in future.

Accordingly, he made a representation to the appellant-University requesting for objective questions instead of descriptive questions and to utilize the help of a scribe in view of his disability. However, no action was taken on the representation constraining him to file a writ petition before the High Court.

The Court disposed of his petition while directing the University to consider the grievance and pass appropriate orders. Following which the University partly allowed the representation and rejected the request to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

Thus the student again approached the Court which took note of the relevant guidelines issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) making provision for providing objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the disabled students. Court declined to accept the contention of the appellant-University that the provision is applicable only to the students having hearing impairment.

It held, “Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 `persons with bench mark disability’ means person with not less than 40% of specified disability, where specified disability has not been defined in measurable terms and includes a person with disability where specified disability has been defined in measurable terms as certified by the certifying authority."

Further, it directed the University to subject the student to medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions.

The University in appeal argued that as per the guidelines, alternative objective questions can be provided only for those students who are are person with hearing impairment and not to persons  from any other disabilities. In the instant case since the student is not a person with hearing impairment but with a visual impairment and mental retardation, it contended that the benefit of the aforesaid provision cannot be extended. It was also submitted that since the student is suffering from mental retardation, objective questions which requires reasoning and intellectual skill cannot be provided.

A division bench said, “The overall object of the guidelines needs to be appreciated which is providing opportunity for all to participate in the mainstream education system. There cannot be any strict and stringent distinction on the basis of the nature of ailment. The purpose is to facilitate the specially abled persons to participate in the examination within the limits provided under the guidelines subject to required compliance in the nature of obtaining certificates from the competent authorities"

It added “Viewed from the said object, learned Single Judge taking note of the provisions describing persons with disability as provided under Section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has directed the appellant-University to subject the respondent for medical examination by Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of the Government Health Care Institution and only if it is certified that the respondent is suffering from low vision to the extent of 40% or more, to provide objective questions instead of descriptive questions to the respondent in the ensuing examination.”

Accordingly the bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Karnataka State Law University. Read the Judgement below:

Kerala HC- Invokes parens patriae, directs district administration and local institution to handover the daughter with autism to mother

Court: Kerala High Court, India

Bench: Honourable Mr. Justice P.B.Suresh Kumar & the honourable Mrs. Justice C.S. Sudha

Case Title: Santha Kumari v. State of Kerala & Ors. 

Case Number: WP(CRL.) NO. 296 OF 2023

Date of Judgement: 10 July 2023

Act Referred: National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999


No one else can give to the ward all that a mother can give to her, said the Kerala High Court while uniting a differently abled child with her mother.

Invoking parens patriae jurisdiction to ensure that the child is not left "at the mercy of others, a Division Bench of Kerala HC, ordered the girl child with autism be united with her mother instead of being in an institution after the death of father.

The crux of the case is that the petitioner-mother was living separately from her husband after the birth of the child in question. The child resided with the father who obtained an order under Section 14 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (hereinafter, 'Act, 1999'), appointing him as the guardian of the ward and his second wife (6th respondent) as the alternative guardian.

After his death, the petitioner sought the child's custody who was meanwhile handed over to the Grace Home Charitable Society (5th respondent) by the local authorities. The 5th respondent insisted on concurrence of the District Administration and the Gram Panchayat however, the same was refused. Hence this petition was filed.

Court observed that Section 14 does not affect in any manner, the rights of the parents of persons with disability to take care of their dependent children with disabilities, if they are not otherwise disqualified. The Court thus directed the petitioner to submit an affidavit as to whether she would be in a position to care for the ward. Ultimately, finding the petitioner fit, the Court ordered that the child be handed over to her.

Read the Judgement below:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Orissa HC issues contempt notice to Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri on lack of accessibility and dignified access to devotees with disabiliites

Court:  High Court of Orissa at Cuttack

Bench: Hon'ble Justice Biswanath Rath

Case No: CONTC NO.3478 OF 2023 

Arising from Case:   W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 decided on 28.02.2022

Case Title:  Jitendra Kumar Biswal  versus Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri & Ors. 

Date of Order/Contempt Notice: 07.07.2023


A prominent disability right activist and a wheelchair user himself filed a second contempt petition in Orissa High Court following State government’s failure to provide accessible facilities for disabled particularly wheelchair user devotee's access to 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, despite the court twice ordering to do so.

The issue was first raised by the present petitioner Jitendra Kumar Biswal (50), a resident of Bhubaneswar, a person with disability and also a disability rights activist, who filed a PIL seeking judicial intervention for facilitating the free movement of devotees who are wheelchair users, within the temple complex in January 2022. 

While disposing of the petition on February 28, 2022, the Hight Court had said, “In view of the urgency involved in this matter and as a decision in the matter is required to be taken by the administrative authority at the first hand, this court directs that Shree Jagannath Temple Committee and chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple to collectively take a lawful decision in the matter by treating the petition as a representation at the instance of the petitioner.”

However, Biswal filed a contempt petition when the order was not complied with. Acting on it, the HC on December 20 last year said, “Considering this is the first contempt petition, this court disposes of the same directing all the contemnors (chairman of temple managing committee, chief administrator, Puri Jagannath Temple and collector, Puri) to work out the February 28, 2022 direction of this court in the disposal of the petition/representation at least within a further period of one month.”.

But petitioner was forced to file a fresh (second) contempt petition. The petitioner expects authorities to make designated space within the inner sanctum of Jagannath Temple for wheelchair-using devotees to offer their prayers and to have a clear view of the three deities. He also expected the authorities to make other provisions that may be required within the temple complex for the free movement of wheelchair-using devotees. 

During March 2023, there were media reports that the Temple Administration were proposing to provide special services. According to the proposal, the PwD devotees will be carried to the sanctum sanctorum by volunteers on their back just like it is done by ‘pithoos’ at Amarnath and Vaishno Devi temples. Around 30 devotees will be taken inside the temple through the existing ramp at the north gate (Uttara Dwara) of the shrine every day.

As per the preliminary proposal, the PwD visitors will have to book their visit to the temple through a dedicated portal and produce a 100 per cent disability certificate before entry. They can be accompanied by one family member. At the Uttara Dwara, a reception centre with a bathroom has been proposed to be set up where the devotees can wait for their turn.  

It was reported that the sevayats have agreed that such devotees can be provided a special darshan from 2 pm to 4 pm after the Bhoga mandapa rituals are over and when entry of general devotees is closed.

It was proposed that from the Uttara Dwara, the PwD visitors will be carried to Jay Bijaya Dwara through Ghanti Dwara for ‘darshan’ and brought back through the same route. For this purpose, the Suara and Maha Suara servitors can be roped in as they have experience of carrying head loads of bhoga in the temple. A devotee can re-book a visit to the temple only after two months of the first visit. However, these proposals have not found favour with the usergroups since this doesn't address the accessibility of the place and engages in to practices of physically lifting devotees with disabilities as sac of patotoes compromising with their dignity, respect and equal right to worship.

The contempt petition is against the following as named contemnors:-  

1) Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singha Deb, Chairman, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
2) Ranjan Kumar Dash, Chief Administrator Puri, Jagannath Temple Puri.
3) Samarth Verma, The Collector, Puri.

The petition alleges violation of this Court’s direction in disposal of W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 on 28.02.2022. There is serious allegation that more than one year has passed in the meanwhile and there is no compliance to the direction of this Court in the above writ petition.

"This Court hopes and trusts that by the next date of posting of the matter, there shall be arrangement for removing the inconvenience faced by the senior citizen or the handicapped people in having their visiting and observing the deities in the Lord Jagannath temple." says the order issuing contempt notice.

Below is the copy of the order:

In a tweet, the petitioner Mr. Jitendra Kumar Biswal, expressed his hope in following terms: 

Here is the Order disposing off the original writ petition W.P.(C).No.2697 of 2022 filed by same petitioner in 28 Feb 2022.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Supreme Court to RBI : Section 33 of PWD Act 1995 provides statutorily conferred right to reservation in promotional appointment in Group A to the disabled.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench:  Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dipankar Datta & Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

Case No. : Civil Appeal Nos.529 OF 2023, 

Case title: Reserve Bank of India Vs. A.K. Nair & Ors.

Date of Judgement: 04 July 2023

Cases referred/relied upon: 

1. Rajeev Kumar Gupta and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors

2. Siddaraju vs. State of Karnataka and Ors

3. State of Kerala and Ors. vs. Leesamma Joseph.

Brief of the Case

Invoking its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to retrospectively extend the benefit of reservation in promotions to an employee with physical disability (post-polio limb paralysis). 

The Court held that the employee had a statutory right to claim reservation even in promotion towards the appointment in Class I posts, as per Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

However, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, in a concurring opinion, also cautioned that reservations in promotions cannot be unduly extended to others entitled to horizontal reservations (like reservations for women, transgender persons etc.), just because persons with disabilities have been given such reservations.

"That persons with disabilities need to be accommodated, in public service, is a given. At the same time, this reasonable accommodation ought not to open gates for demands by those benefitting other kinds of horizontal reservation, for reservation in promotional vacancies in public services," Justice Bhat observed.

"It was not the intention of Article 16 of the Constitution to compromise on administrative inefficiency by culling the spirit of competition - after all, positions gained by promotions taper higher up. To ear-mark a certain portion to one class of citizens, and not others, who may have also gained initial appointments on the strength of such horizontality (such as women, retired / ex-servicemen, etc.) is not constitutionally protected – the only exception to reservations in promotions is SC / ST appointees, as provided under Article 16(4A)," the judgment stated.

The petitoner in this case, Mr. AK Nair, a Coin Manager at the RBI had appeared for the All India Merit Test in 2003 for promotion to a Class I post, but had fallen short of qualifying by three marks in general category list. His representations seeking relaxation in the same on account of his disability didn't find favour. Interestingly, the posts in question had the same cut-off, at the time, for both the general category candidates and candidates with disabilities.

In 2014, the Bombay High Court held that the RBI was required to provide reservations in promotion for candidates with disabilities on a horizontal basis with effect from 2006. However, the High Court did not give any relief to Nair, leading to the appeal before the Supreme Court.

"We have no doubt that Mr. Nair did have a statutorily conferred right all through to claim that reservation in promotional appointment in Group ‘A’ posts is ingrained in the PwD Act, 1995 ... The omission or failure of the RBI in condoning the shortfall in marks coupled with the neglect to identify a Group ‘A’ post suitable for reservation to accommodate Mr. Nair on promotion appears to us to be indefensible." expressed the Bench while allowing the appeal of Mr. Nair. 

In the opinion authored by Justice Datta, the Court also criticised the RBI for its rigid approach in deciding the employee's claim. "Even otherwise, to reach out to persons with disabilities and grant them the facilities and benefits that the PwD Act, 1995 envisaged, it was rather harsh to apply standards which are applicable to general candidates to Mr. Nair while he competed with such general candidates for securing his promotion. RBI, as a model employer, ought to have taken an informed decision in this regard commensurate with the aspirations of persons with disabilities."

The Court has granted the RBI four months time to complete the requisite formalities to release the monetary benefits due to Nair. The bench also clarified that when Nair retires in 2025, his retiral benefits should be computed taking into account the Court's ruling that his promotion should be recognised retrospectively.

Read the judgement: 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Madras HC Directs Authorities To Exempt GST, Toll Tax For Car Purchased By Visually Impaired Buyer

Court: Madras High Court (Madurai Bench), India

Bench: Justice PT Asha

Case No: W.P.(MD) Nos.12955 and 13043 of 2023 and W.M.P.(MD) No.11040 of 2023

Caste Title (Lead case): Carunia Seelavathi Vs. The Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Department of Transport & Others

Date of Order/Judgement:  26 June 2023


While dealing with a case of denial of Concessions in GST, Road Tox, Toll Tax etc to a person with vision impairment, the Madras High Court directed authorities to grant exemption from the motor vehicle tax as well as the GST to a visually impaired person in respect of the car purchased by her.

The bench took note of the recommendations made by the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to Department of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance for amendments to their rules to give concession with reference to GST, Road Tax, Toll Tax etc to the visually impaired persons.

The court was dealing with a plea filed by Ms. Carunia Seelavathi, who is has 100% visual impairment and brought a car for her own use. She is dependent upon a third person for her travel. It was submitted that her request for tax exemption under the Government Order dated 29.12.1976 and the order of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) was rejected by the authorities on the ground that the vehicle used by her would not undergo any changes in the form which was the basis for exemption.

In December 1976, the Government of Tamil Nadu Home (Transport -T) Department issued a notification exempting payment of tax on all motor vehicles specially designed or adapted for the use of physically handicapped persons, provided the adapted vehicles are used by physically handicapped persons only.

The court, considering the recommendation by the Commissioner, and taking into account the fact that visually impaired persons are now having more job opportunities and face challenges in commute, opined that such an exemption could be granted to the petitioner as well.

Considering the recommendation of the Commission, which is a Commission specifically established for the persons with disabilities under the RPWD Act and taking into consideration the fact that today the visually challenged persons are having more opportunities of employment even in the Government sector and their commuting to the place of work becomes challenging, this Court is of the opinion that the exemption has to be granted to the petitioner and accordingly, the Writ Petitions are allowed,” the court held.

The court thus directed the authorities to ensure that necessary orders exempting the petitioner from motor vehicle tax and GST are passed within a period of four weeks.

Access the Judgement 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A medical student knocks the doors of Himachal Pradesh high court against accessibility barriers in Medical college

Despite winning her MBBS seat after the High Court's intervention, Ms. Nikita Choudhary, a first-year student of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda continues to brave ordeals of inaccesssibility at the college campus. Nikita who is also a wheelchair user and has 78% disability, has written to the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, highlighting various difficulties being faced by her.

Highlighting the absence of accesssible infrastructure for wheelchair users, she has written about absence of ramps in the academic, para-clinic blocks, library and auditorium. The elevators installed in these blocks often go out of order and she has to sometimes miss classes due to that reason.

In the year 2022, she was denied admission  by the college referring to the MCI rules that a student with 78 per cent disability could not be enrolled for the course. But after the intervention by the High Court, she secured her hard earned seat.   In her letter to the Chief Justice, she has stated that since her admission, she has never entered the college library and auditorium. Even the para-clinic and washrooms are also not accessible to her.

Her repeated requests to the engineering staff to repair the elevators have fallen on deaf ears. Even her request for the allotment of cubical accommodation in the college hostel was also denied. She said she needed an attendant to assist her always. It was not possible for her to live in a dormitory without an attendant. Now she had rented a room outside.

As per court order, she said, physically disabled students were entitled to free education up to university level. However, she was forced to pay the admission fee, which had not been refunded to her so far.

A senior officer of the medical college said they were aware of the problems being faced by Nikita. He said, “Lifts sometimes go out of order due to technical glitch or power failures. The college will extend all possible help to her.”

We will keep you posted on this case.... 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Court of CCPD directs Paytm (One 97 Communications) to prepare a roadmap to make existing features accessible and conduct an access audit

Court: Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India

Bench: Ms. Upma Srivastava, CCPD

Case No: 13392/1141/2022

Case Title: Amar Jain Vs. MeitY, One 97 comunications Ltd & ors.

Date of Judgement : 31 May 2023


In an order passed on 31.05.2023 by the Court of Hon'ble Chief Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities, Paytm has been asked to prepare a roadmap to make its existing features accessible, conduct an accessibility audit, and ensure that role-out of all new features have accessibility embedded for all categories of persons with disabilities.

Paytm being a private service provider is also governed by the mandatory requirements of accessibility. This is very positive and forward looking order since the Court of  CCPD has asked the service provider to conduct an accessibility audit and also remediate the existing & future issues. 

The court passed the following recommendations:

"That the Respondent No, 2 (Paytm) shall conduct a meeting with the Complainant to identify the issues relating to accessibility in newly added features. Further, the Respondent No. 2 shall also conduct accessibility audit of its app to identify issues relating to accessibility. Thereafter the Respondent No. 2 shall prepare a roadmap to address two issues, i.e. accessibility of existing features of the app and plan to ensure that all new features which will be added in future are accessible for divyangjan of all categories, right from the first day of roll out. 

That the whole exercise shall be completed by the Respondent No. 2 (Paytm) within 3 months of receiving the copy of this Order and in case the Complainant is not satisfied with the steps taken or the roadmap prepared by the Respondent No.2, the Complainant shall be at liberty to approach this Court again."

Read the order:

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Court of CCPD directs the Ola Cabs to make their app accessible to all users and allow independent and dignified use of app.

Court: Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of India

Bench: Mr. P. P. Ambashta, Dy CCPD

Case No: 13532 /1102/ 2022 / 159384

Case Title: Amar Jain Vs. Ani Technologies Private Limited (Ola Cabs)

Date of  Reccord of Proceeding (ToP): 31 May 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 04.07.2023


The complainant challenged the inaccessibility of OLA Appplication. 

This Court sided with the preliminary observations made by the Complainant that addressing all the cccessibility chalenges in the  OLA app will take some time and thus some interim arrangements are to be made. 

The Court thus recommended that the Respondent shall make features such as pickup & drop location and driver information accessible for Persons with Disabilities within 4 weeks from the date of this Order, so that Persons with Disabilities become able to make these inputs without assistance of any other person.

The Court also recommended that within 4 weeks from the date of the Record of Proceedings (RoP). the Respondent shall conduct meeting with the Complainant and identily issues relating to accessibility of app and prepare a roadmap for making all features of the app accessible for Persons with Disabilities.

The court  further expressed that considering the continuous nature of the Complaint, this Court decides that hearing shall be conducted again in the present Complaint. The Respondent is directed to inform this Court about the compliance of above two recommendations during next hearing which shall be conducted on 04.07.2023.

This is also a good practice being followed by the Court to keep the matters live until substantial actions have been taken by the respondent to remediate the wrongs and thus is worthy of mention.

Read the Order embedded below:

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

DHC seeks UOI's stand on a PIL seeking direction to enhance effective access for persons with vision impairments by placing QR Codes on Medicines, Food Products, Cosmetics & other Consumer products .

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Hon'ble Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon'ble Justice Subramonium Prasad. 

Case No: W.P.(C) 5985/2023 

Case Title: The Kapila and Nirmal Shweta Hingorani Foundation & Ors  Vs. Union of India & ors.

Date of Hearing : 09 May 2023

Next Date of Hearing: 16 Aug 2023


In a PIL moved by The Kapila & Nirmal Hingorani Foundation, a public charitable trust and two visually impaired Delhi University professors, a division bench of  Delhi HC issued notice to the Centre through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

The PIL seeks to secure effective access for visually impaired persons to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products which is also a mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, (RPwD Act 2016) whcih specifically provides for (i) measures/ schemes/ programmes to promote their healthcare (ii) standards of accessibility for information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas and (iii) measures to promote development, production and distribution of universally designed consumer products and accessories for general use for persons with disabilities among other rights.

The PIL submitted that visually impaired people face immense difficulties in taking medicines and they feel the shape and size of tablets and do not even have the benefit of differentiating drugs based on colour. Due to a lack of accessible information, visually impaired people may take wrong medicines, leading to major health problems, adverse reactions and even loss of life.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the petitioners Dr. Smriti Singh, associate professor (English) at Maitreyi College; and Shobhan Singh, senior assistant professor (History) Zakir Hussain PG Evening College, who are visually impaired, went through a horrible time, desperate for help and information, in absence of accessibility of medicines and food products.

The plea highlights that the scope for utilising the capabilities of smartphones with QR codes to help visually impaired persons identify products and access all relevant product information is huge. It referenced newsreports that India had 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in 2021, of which about 750 million were smartphone users. Furthermore, the number of smartphone users was expected to increase to 1 billion by 2026, with rural areas driving the sale of internet-enabled phones, which in turn were set to get a push with the government’s plan to fiberise all villages by 2025 under the BharatNet Programme.

The petitioners had sent a representation in December 2021 and a follow-up in February 2022 to the Prime Minister of India and another representation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on February 21, 2022 which is yet to be responded.

The representation of the petitioners urged that all medicine manufacturers be directed to affix QR code on each tablet (or at the very least between two tablets) at the back of the strip so that a smartphone with accessibility feature could then scan the QR code with its stored data or information about the particular medicine, and decode it to convert the text to speech format of the application.

The PIL claimed that petitioners, on learning that some medicines in the market did have QR Codes (without full information/details of the medicine), also made follow-up representations. The plea stated that employing QR Codes in the manner suggested in the representations would increase the efficacy of medical care for visually impaired patients by reducing medication errors, incorrect dosages, unintended drug interactions and side effects.

The PIL has asserted that the continued lack of effective access to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products constitutes a “denial of the constitutional rights of visually impaired persons under Article 21 of the Constitution” as well as their “statutory rights” under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.  The PIL has sought directions to the concerned authorities to secure effective access for visually impaired persons to medicines, food, cosmetics and other consumer products and towards this end, to take comprehensive measures and adopt comprehensive guidelines on affixing QR Codes on such products.

Matter will be next listed on 16 Aug 2023.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Bombay HC directs BMC to consider use of technology (elevators etc) for all skywalks to make them friendly to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. [Judgemnet included]

Court: Bombay High Court

Bench: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Girish Kulkarni and Hon'ble Mr. Justice R N Laddha. 

Case No. : WP/771/2023 [Original]

Case Title: K.P. Purushothamna Nair of Mumbai VS.  Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai

Date of Judgement: 24 April 2023

Subject: Safe and Acessible Pavements / Pedestrian Facilities, Accessibility of Skywalk to persons with disabilities and senior citizens. 


On a petition by an HC staff-turned-lawyer K P P Nair, a Bandra resident, the BMC has been directed by the Bombay HC to install mechanical walkways and elevators at both ends of skywalks to help the senior citizens and persons with disabilities in commuting every day. It also ordered that in future, in all skywalks, the BMC must consider the use of technology to make these more sturdy and beneficial for all commuters.

The petiton raised important questions of accesssibilty of pedestrian facilities for the senior citizens and persosn with disabilities.  He narrated that everyday thousands of persons commute between Bandra Railway Station, on Bandra East side towards MHADA End. This segment faces a junction which has a flow of heavy traffic as pedestrians are required to also cross the Western Express Highway. He has submitted that there is only one pavement which is required to be used by these commuters which gets unimaginably crowded, thereby creating a routine situation of accidents taking place and that such a chaotic situation is totally against the interest of the commuters. 

The HC had on an earlier hearing dated 20 March 2023 observed that commuter safety is paramount and any mishap occurring due to non-availability of a safe footpath or walkway would amount to a breach of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to the citizens. The bench noted the Central and Western railways as also the Metro have provided such mechanisms at several railway stations, including escalators. Asking the BMC to consider it too, the bench said, “Benefits of modern technology need to be made available to the commuters, to maketheir commuting life in Mumbai more easier and comfortable. ” 

“We are sure that such aspects as highlighted by us would be considered and borne in mind by the MCGM in consultation with all other authorities, so that not only the proposed skywalk but also all existing skywalks in the city are made ideal, for their best possible utility, so as to achieve the purpose for which they are constructed,” 

The steps being taken by the MCGM and more particularly, that within a period of 15 months from the date of award of the contract, the entire work of restoration of the sky-walk in question would be completed, is a welcome measure being taken by the MCGM. We accordingly dispose of this petition accepting the statements as made in the reply affidavit and permitting the MCGM to progress the work with all expediency, expresed the court in its order disposign off the petition. 

Read the judgement: