High Court seeks action plan on issues of disabled persons

The High Court on Thursday directed the government to inform it within four weeks about the detailed action plan to deal with issues of disabled persons in Jammu and Kashmir.

Disapproving the dilatory approach of the social welfare department to report about the action plan, division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar said the present case was a fit case for requiring the appearance of Secretary, Department of Social Welfare.

State’s deputy advocate general Feroz Ahmad Sheikh, however, requested for giving one opportunity to the authorities to place before the court the detailed action plan dealing with all issues. Following the submission the court granted four weeks’ time to place the action plan before it.              

Meanwhile the court impleaded Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Higher Education Department, Technical Education Department, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), IGP Traffic and Transport Commissioner as party respondents in the Public Interest Litigation.  

State’s senior additional advocate general B A Dar accepted notice on behalf of these departments except for SMC. Advocate Moomin Khan accepted notice for SMC.    

In response to the submission by the petitioner JavedTak that the issues related to disabled persons are not sufficiently addressed in engineering and architectural institutions and that this needs to be made a specific part of curriculum, the court issues a slew of directions in this regard.       

The court directed Secretary Higher Education and Technical Education Department to place before it the status report regarding the inclusion of courses and subjects relating to the rights and requirement of the disabled in the institutions undertaking education in engineering and architecture courses.  

The court directed Principal Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to report about the notification of the rules under the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 1998. The Court also directed SMC and the traffic authorities to place before it their action plan and steps taken to ensure that the pavements and roads are disable friendly.   

Dismayed over the government’s failure to place before court the steps taken for undertaking a census of persons with disability which it had noted in order dated 27 November 2018, the court said:“ The first order in this case was passed on 17 September 2018. Ten months have passed since then without the Government having even begun any measures”.    

With regard to the access audits, time was sought on behalf of Nipman Foundation to place the status report with regard to the access audits undertaken by them in respect of Court complexes in Jammu and Srinagar, the court granted four weeks of time to the Foundation to do so.

Observing that in case action was not taken on the several steps noted by it, the bench said: “We would be constrained to direct the personal appearance of the Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, J&K”.

The court also directed the department to inform it as to when the disability training was being undertaken in Leh and Kargil.             

After the petitioner’s submission that no steps were taken to ensure that public transport is disabled friendly as the respondents were proposing to purchase only five percent low floor buses, the court said: “This is in violation of the statutory provisions as well as several judicial precedents on this subject”.  Listing the case for further hearing on 3 September, the court directed the authorities to file the status reports by the next date of hearing.