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PIL FILED FOR SEEKING GUIDELINES PROTECTING RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES; NOTICE ISSUED BY SUPREME COURT

Team SoOLEGAL 11 Mar 2019 10:31am

PIL FILED FOR SEEKING GUIDELINES PROTECTING RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES; NOTICE ISSUED BY SUPREME COURT

A petition was filed by a wheelchair-bound academic. He was disallowed to board the flight in the year 2017. Directions have been sought by him for safeguarding rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (PWDs) during air travel. The petitioner is a professor at the Indian Statistical Institute and a Fulbright Scholar. Mr. Kaushik Kumar Majumdar has 85% orthopaedic disability. He is wholely dependent on his electric wheelchair for mobility. Advocate-on-Record Mr. Avneesh Arputham and Advocates Ms Anuradha Arputham and Ms Geetanjali represented his petition.

The incident

The petitioner was traveling to Kolkata from Bangalore in 2017 and Air India did not allow him to board the flight until he removed all the wires from his wheelchair. He contended that there are no specified guidelines or legal need of removing all the wires. He had disabled the battery from the panel making it motionless.

It was alleged that the act of Air India violated his dignity and that its acts were in contravention of Articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities, apart from Articles 12 and 14 of the Indian Constitution. 
Also that the Persons With Disabilities face discrimination and chauvinism regularly. Thus, there is a need of appropriate guidelines which ensure that PWDs are not subjected to humiliation as well as trauma at the behest of the airport authorities and airline staff.

The reliefs which were sought from the Court through the petition:

1. Direct the Centre and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to frame appropriate policies/rules/guidelines to ensure that PWDs are able to use air transport "without violating their dignity".

2. Direct the airlines to form dedicated cells/departments/nodal bodies for hearing grievances of PWDs, along with provisions for a summary and effective redressal to their grievances.

3. Direct DGCA to issue appropriate directions/rules/guidelines to ensure sensitization and training programmes for the authorities and staff members of the airlines and airports, with regard to the needs of PWDs.

4. Direct the Centre and the DGCA to frame appropriate policies/rules/guidelines to ensure that every airport has at least one 'One Stop Facilitation Desk/Centre' for PWDs to assist them, and at least one 'Complaints Resolution Officer' for amicable settlement of complaints by conciliation and mediation.

5. Direct the Centre and the States to create awareness about Section 92 of the Act and to publicise it widely to ensure that PWDs are not subjected to insults, violence, intimidation, humiliation etc.

6. Direct the Centre and the States to conduct mandatory sensitization and awareness workshops for all government officers and personnel dealing with PWDs.

7. Direct the Centre and the States to create awareness regarding rights of PWDs and their special needs.
The Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued a notice in this regard.

Tagged: PersonsWithDisabilities   SupremeCourt   PublicInterestLitigation   AirIndia   CJIRanjanGogoi   JusticeSanjivKhanna   JusticeAbdulNazeer  
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