Jharkhand High Court: In a Public Interest Litigation (‘PIL’) seeking issuance of writ of mandamus directing authorities to provide at least two wheelchairs in every Court, Judicial or Quasi-Judicial Forums in the State along with appropriate infrastructure for differently abled persons in accordance with the provisions of Section 12 and 45 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Division Bench of Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, C.J.* and Rajesh Shankar, J. directed the State authorities to provide aforesaid facilities within 6 months.
The Court pointed towards the first date of listing, 23-06-2023, when the Court directed the State Counsel to seek appropriate instructions from the State, but no counter affidavit was filed in this regard, not even on 11-08-2023, the next date of hearing or even the instant day. The fact led the Court to conclude that the State Government had no objection to the petitioner’s prayer in the instant matter.
Facilities for disabled persons in India
The Court highlighted the specific provisions under Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 backing all the aforesaid facilities in all public places. It further pointed towards Section 12 regarding access to justice and said that “the notes on clauses of the Act provide for the appropriate Government to ensure that the persons with disabilities have access to any court, tribunal, authority, commission or any other judicial or quasi-judicial body.”
The Court also mentioned Section 45 of the Act providing for the time limit for making existing infrastructure and premises accessible and action for that purpose. The Court observed that a plain reading of the said provisions reflected that “the State Government had the duty to provide aforesaid facilities s to the differently abled persons within a period of five years from the notification of the Rules, i.e., the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1996 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Rules, 2017.”
High Court’s Directions for Disabled Friendly Infrastructure in Courts
The Court was of the view that since the period of 5 years had already elapsed, the said facilities shall be provided in any Court, tribunal, authority, commission or any other judicial or quasi-judicial body, within 6 months. It further directed the State’s Chief Secretary to execute the Court’s order by issuing appropriate directions to the Department In-charge for providing the infrastructure and other facilities to the differently abled persons.
[People’s Union for Civil Liberty, Ranchi v. State of Jharkhand, 2023 SCC OnLine Jhar 1525, Order dated 29-09-2023]
Order by: Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner: Advocate Shailesh Poddar, Advocate General Rajiv Ranjan
For State: AC to AG Piyush Chitresh