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Delhi High Court Seeks State's Response On Accessibility Of Public Pathways, Foot-Over Bridges To Persons With Disability

Shrutika Pandey
2 April 2022 8:30 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Seeks States Response On Accessibility Of Public Pathways, Foot-Over Bridges To Persons With Disability
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The Delhi High Court recently issued notice on a Public Interest Litigation filed over non-functionality of lifts and escalators attached to foot-over bridges in the national capital, said to be violating the rights of the elderly and persons with disabilities. A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navneet Chawla has issued notices to the Chief Commissioner for...

The Delhi High Court recently issued notice on a Public Interest Litigation filed over non-functionality of lifts and escalators attached to foot-over bridges in the national capital, said to be violating the rights of the elderly and persons with disabilities.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navneet Chawla has issued notices to the Chief Commissioner for persons with disability to file a status report, specifically indicating whether foot over bridges and other bridges in NCT Delhi are accessible to persons with disabilities and senior citizens, with an emphasis on the points dealt by the petitioner.

It also sought a status report indicating compliance with the Court's directions to conduct a Social Disability Audit, passed in another matter being heard by Justice Najmi Waziri.

The PIL is filed seeking appropriate directions to the concerned respondents to ensure the convenience of and full accessibility to lifts, foot over bridges, and other public amenities and structures for specially-abled and senior citizens of India. The petition seeks to ensure compliance with the provisions under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, protecting the fundamental right to equality under Article 14, the fundamental right of freedom to move freely under Article 19 (1) (d), and the fundamental right to life with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner is a practicing advocate seeking to bring the attention of the Court to the "abysmal state" of public infrastructure and the "lackadaisical approach" of the respondents to maintain basic accessibility mechanisms depriving the physically disabled and senior citizens of the basic human rights to access public buildings and structures.

Filed through Advocates Pankaj Mehta and R.K. Mehta, the petition notes that India is one of the few nations to become a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Under Article 9 of the said convention, there is an obligation on all the signatory states to make all indoor and outdoor facilities accessible for disabled people. The convention also imposes duties on the government. The members state that all the private organizations whose facilities are extensively used by the public should remove all the impediments and barriers for easier accessibility.

It also mentioned that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, had introduced provisions about laying down the mandatory standards of accessibility to public buildings for persons with disabilities. However, the current state of public infrastructure exists in blatant contravention to the aforesaid laid parameters. The petition also mentioned the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, 2015, which aims to enhance the proportion of accessible government buildings.

The petition seeks protection of the interest of citizens and the betterment of unprivileged and differently-abled groups in society by ensuring compliance to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It sought directions from the respondents to ensure that the public and private establishments within the territories install lifts in public buildings.

Advocate Satyakam appearing for Delhi Government and the Public Works Department submitted that directions in this regard have already been passed, and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure compliance.

The matter is now posted on August 06, 2022.

Case Title: Pankaj Mehta v. Union of India & Ors

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