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"Idea Is To Make Citizens Independent": Delhi High Court Seeks Clearing & Levelling Of Footpaths To Enable Movement Of Wheelchair Bound

Suhavi Arya
17 Jan 2022 10:42 AM GMT
Idea Is To Make Citizens Independent: Delhi High Court Seeks Clearing & Levelling Of Footpaths To Enable Movement Of Wheelchair Bound
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The Delhi High Court has directed the various departments of the Delhi Government to work in tandem and ensure that footpaths and pavements in the Vasant Vihar area are made accessible for persons with physical disabilities, using wheelchairs for their movement.Justice Najmi Waziri directed the authorities to ensure that the facilities are such that those on wheelchair do not require...

The Delhi High Court has directed the various departments of the Delhi Government to work in tandem and ensure that footpaths and pavements in the Vasant Vihar area are made accessible for persons with physical disabilities, using wheelchairs for their movement.

Justice Najmi Waziri directed the authorities to ensure that the facilities are such that those on wheelchair do not require assistance of another person for their movement.

"The idea is to make a citizen independent...every citizen has the right to move around in the places fixed by the state," the Bench remarked orally.

The Court was dealing with a plea highlighting the inaction of respondent authorities over concertization of trees, encroachment of footpaths and other issues with civil facilities in city's Vasant Vihar area, falling under the jurisdiction of South Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Earlier, the Court had observed that concretization of trees amounts to worst kind of human rights abuse for the reason that it changes the whole environment of people. It had also rapped the Delhi Police over parking of cars at the pavements.

Today, fresh status reports were filed by the authorities.

While going through the pictures placed on record, the Bench noted that adequate steps have been taken and the process for preservation of trees is ongoing.

However, with respect to clearing of pavements and footpaths, Justice Waziri noted that the report of Delhi Police was 'evasive' as it only showed peripheral roads and not smaller pathways and parking areas outside the houses.

Pointing to a photograph depicting a hoarding erected on the footpath, the Bench remarked,

"Who has put this advertisement. Why is it not removed? How will a person on wheelchair move with this standing in the middle of the footpath? What is important, movement of people or advertisement board?"

It added,

"How do you empower a citizen? Or is a wheelchair bound person a lesser citizen?"

It therefore directed the officers concerned to take apposite steps in this direction and file a compliance report by the next date of hearing.

While going through the affidavit filed by SDMC, the Bench noted that a manhole was situated in the middle of the footpath and its cover was not levelled. Similarly, cars were parked on footpaths.

Stating that these things create hindrance in movement of persons, especially those using wheel chairs, the Court asked the authority to ensure that movement of citizens is made independent, despite their physical disabilities.

During the course of hearing, it was also brought to the Court's notice that according to Public Notice (issued by the Delhi Government) in October 2015, where there has been concretization of trees, street lights are fixed on trees etc, a fine of Rs. 10,000/- has to be imposed upon persons who have victimized trees under Section 8 of Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994. The Forest Department has been asked to submit a status report on the amount of money collected as fine under this provision, and if there are any pending cases regarding the same.

Before parting, the Bench recorded its satisfaction as to the steps taken by all the departments and their counsels to take care of the vegetation and comply with court's directions.

Advocate Aditya Narayan Prasad appeared for the Petitioner; Advocate Naushad Khan appeared for Delhi Police; Advocate Sanjeev Sabrawal appeared for SDMC; Advocate Shadan Farasat appeared for PWD.

The matter is now slated to be heard on 14 February 2022.

Case Title: Bhavreen Kandhari v. Gyanesh Bharti & Ors., CONT CAS.(C ) 778/2021

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