The Delhi High Court has directed the AAP government to take a call within eight weeks on the plea for creating a separate department of disability affairs so that various schemes and provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act can be effectively implemented.
The court directed the Centre and the Delhi government to also address the concerns regarding various government websites which are not disabled friendly.
The directions of the court came on a petition moved by welfare organisation Federation of Disabled Rights through advocates Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Rahul Kumar.
The petitioner had moved court praying that the Delhi government be directed to set up a separate department for disabled people like the Central government which has already set up Department Of Empowerment Of Persons With Disabilities (Divyangjan).
It had also prayed that the Centre and the Delhi government be directed to formulate schemes and programmes, including the provision of loans at concessional rates, to facilitate and support employment of persons with disabilities, especially for their vocational training and self-employment.
The petitioner also submitted a list of websites like those of IRCTC, Online SBI, RBI, UPSC, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court which he said were not disabled friendly and either had no screen reader or magnifier or text magnifier.
The court disposed of the petition with while directing the government to decide the various representations sent to it by the petitioner with the option given to the petitioner to revive the petition in case the directions are not complied with.
In its petition, the organisation said the national review meeting of State Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities on Implementation of Act-1995 was held in May 2017 and one of the major highlights of the meeting was the recommendation to create a separate department in the respective states for the effective and speedy implementation of the schemes related to persons with disabilities.
Relying heavily on provisions of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, the petitioner said it is the duty of the government to formulate a scheme for easy loans and employment to persons with disabilities, constitute a national fund, conduct a social audit of all general schemes to see that they do not have any adverse impact on persons with disabilities etc., and appoint a Central Advisory Board to perform such functions under the Act.
“That apart from this, there are several responsibilities which the respective government i.e., the Govt. of NCT of Delhi in the present case is supposed to bear…the present petition can only be effectively implemented if in case there is a separate department with appropriate allocation of resources that the state would be in a position to effectively implement the act and work towards the welfare of the persons with disabilities,” it said.
The petition also refers to Article 33 titled as “National Implementation and Monitoring” of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol to which India is a signatory and which states that “States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels”.
It also cited relevant portion of the PWD Act, 2016, which says that the government shall endeavour to develop human resource and mandate training on disability rights in all courses, for the training of Panchayati Raj members, legislators, administrators, police officials, judges and lawyers; induct disability as a component for all education courses for schools, colleges and University teachers, doctors, nurses, para-medical personnel, social welfare officers, rural development officers, Asha workers, Anganwadi workers, engineers, architects, other professionals and community workers; initiate capacity-building programmes, including training in independent living and community relationships for families, members of community and other stakeholders and care providers, ensure independence training for persons with disabilities etc.
The petition said all such provisions for the welfare of persons with disabilities in various Acts can be effectively implemented only if there is a separate dedicated department.