Supreme Court: “Non-disabled people do not understand disabled ones.” This is what the bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal, JJ said when it was deciding the matter relating to de-boarding of the petitioner from the plane of a private airline for being disabled. The Court awarded a sum of Rs. 10,00,000 as damages to be payable to the petitioner for the mental and physical suffering experienced by her and also unreasonable discrimination against her.

In defence of such an unreasonable action on part of the crew members, the airline had taken the stand that the person having cerebral palsy would, in emergency situation, not be able to respond to the safety instructions and she is a risk to herself and potential danger to the lives of co-passengers also. The Court said that this act was contrary to the Civil Aviation Requirements, 2008 which prohibits the airlines from refusing to carry a person with disability or person with reduced mobility. It was further said that the manner in which she was treated while de-boarding from the aircraft, depicts total lack of sensitivity on the part of the officials of the airlines.

The petitioner, an Indian citizen with cerebral palsy, is an eminent activist and a Board member of the National Trust, an organization of the Government of India, set up under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities, Act, 1999. [Jeeja Ghosh v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 510, decided on 12.05.2016]

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