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Disability Rights : Supreme Court Invites Suggestions From Persons With Disability & Rights Activists On Improving Accessibility

Sohini Chowdhury
21 Feb 2023 6:06 AM GMT
Disability Rights : Supreme Court Invites Suggestions From Persons With Disability & Rights Activists On Improving Accessibility

The official website of the Supreme Court of India now displays questionnaires on Accessibility.

On 3rd December, 2022, the Chief Justice of India, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud constituted a Committee on Accessibility with the aim to conduct a comprehensive accessibility audit of the Supreme Court premises. The aim of the audit is to ensure accessibility in the justice system and understand the hardships faced by the persons with disability in their interface with the Supreme Court of India.

The Committee headed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has the mandate to conduct an accessibility audit extending to both physical as well as functional accessibility. In view of the same, the Committee had now released the questionnaires to collect inputs from all stakeholders to assess the nature and extent of the problems faced by persons with disabilities in navigating the Supreme Court facilities.

There are two questionnaires, one for the persons with disability (lawyer, litigant, law clerk, court staff, legal intern, court journalist, judge, legal researcher, visitor), which includes general questions on court accessibility; questions for those with visual and hearing impairments, locomotive disability. The said questionnaire contains questions pertaining to website accessibility and document accessibility. It seeks to ascertain if the video conferencing and live proceedings facilities extended by the Supreme Court is disabled friendly and whether VC should be made mandatory in all cases involving disabled stakeholders. The questionnaire also asks for suggestions from stakeholders if there should be a special system for cases involving lawyers, litigants, judges, law clerks and interns with disability to facilitate effective access to all facets of a given case.

The second questionnaire is for disability rights experts. It seeks suggestions to ensure the Supreme Court is physically and virtually accessible to all. The said questionnaire seeks categorical inputs from experts to understand the special challenges faced by women with disability in accessing the Supreme Court. Questions are also reflective of the Committee’s efforts to find out the processes that ought to be put in place to train all court staff on disability and inclusion. There is also a question regarding the ways in which parking experience can be made more comfortable for persons with disability, physically accessing the Supreme Court.

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