Be sure all new govt. buses are disabled-friendly: HC

also calls for a report on remedial action to be taken on existing buses

The Madras Supreme Court reminded the state government on Wednesday that all buses it buys should be handicapped accessible in the future and that it would not be enough to buy only a certain percentage of such buses.

Supreme Judge Sanjib Banerjee and Judge Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy also directed the state government to file an affidavit by July 22nd detailing the remedial measures they had taken to ensure that the existing buses were also made accessible to the disabled were.

The orders were issued on a written petition from Vaishnavi Jayakumar, a disability lawyer. It had challenged a Government Ordinance (GO) enacted on February 24 of this year to introduce only 10% of low-floor buses and 25% of buses with an elevator mechanism or some other suitable mode to allow wheelchair-bound passengers easy access than the total for Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai) Limited to procure buses.

The petitioner alleged that the GO violated Section 41 of the 2016 Law on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The law requires the state government to take appropriate measures to provide facilities for people with disabilities at bus stops, train stations and airports as well as access to all modes of transport by even retrofitting old modes of transport where technically feasible.

She said the GO also violated Articles 14 (equality before the law) and 21 (right to life) of the constitution because it only introduced 10% low-floor buses and those with an elevator mechanism. “The GO is an arbitrary exercise of power by the state. Not only is it a total violation of the rights of people with disabilities, but it is also disgusting as it violates several court orders, “she said.

The court merged this PIL with two other related cases pending before the court since 2005 and 2007.

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