Make government buildings easier to access for differently-abled: SC

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New Delhi, Dec 15 : The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that accessibility to buildings of the central and state governments should be made easier for differently-abled people.

A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan issued 11 directions requiring both the Centre and state governments to provide accessibility features like ramps, accessible toilets, lifts with Braille symbols, and auditory signals for physically challenged persons in such buildings, including educational institutions, railway stations, airports and public transport.

The court directed the setting up of Central and State Advisory Boards on the issue within three months.

Referring to Sections 60 and 66 of the Disabilities Act, 2016, the apex court said: “In order to effectively implement the said Act, it becomes the duty of the states and UTs to constitute such advisory boards. Therefore, we direct these advisory boards be constituted by all States/Union Territories within three months from today (Friday).”

“… the intention of the legislature is clear and unambiguous when it enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act (of 1995), an important feature of which is the creation of a barrier-free built environment.”

The court said Section 41 of the Disabilities Act, 2016, provides for “comprehensive accessibility in all modes of transport, including, but not remitted, to bus transport”.

“It is the duty of the Union (of India), States, as well as Union Territories to ensure that all government buses are disabled-friendly in accordance with the Harmonised Guidelines and they are duty-bound to see that private buses also become disabled friendly.”

The Supreme Court directed the government to lay out a plan and provide dates by which its directions will be carried out and asked for the submission within three months.

The court directed for listing of the matter after three months after the filing of the report.

The apex court was hearing a public interest litigation preferred by Gurugram-based visually challenged Rajiv Raturi who sought proper and adequate access to public places and transport for persons with disabilities. Raturi works for a Delhi-based human rights organisation.