Volume 3 Issue 1 - January 01, 2005

Ramps in Mumbai High Court

DNIS News Network - Disabled Rights Group (DRG), Mumbai, has been instrumental in the inauguration of a newly installed ramp at the Bombay High Court.

Picture of the newly inaugurated ramp at the Bombay High Court

During the last few months disability issues have found their place among important social issues in the country. The ramp is a consequence of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed to enforce implementation of the Persons With Disabilities Act, 1995.

The High Court Building, being an old heritage building, was inaccessible. Able Disabled All People Together (ADAPT), an organisation working for disabled people filed a petition at the High Court. “When we entered the Mumbai High Court for the first time, we saw it didn't have a serviceable ramp for wheelchair-bound persons. So we filed a petition at the High Court. The ramp, which was built, was too steep and did not have a railing,” says Manju Mehta, member, ADAPT. The difficulty of getting into the High Court was brought to the notice of the judges, who passed an order that a ramp be constructed at the High Court.

In a related case, a few months ago the court had ordered the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus to make 3 per cent of its new buses disabled-friendly, and to operate them on major routes. “Many malls and multiplexes have ramps for the disabled. The problem is with old public buildings, which cannot be easily modified because they are heritage structures,” Mehta lamented.

“The hearing on our petition is coming up. We want to amend the Persons with Disability Act. The state government has still not created state coordination committees to safeguard the rights and interests of disabled persons. Mumbai should have its own Disability Commissioner. Right now the Disability Commissioner sits in Pune,” says Mehta

Continuing the fight for barrier-free access, two law students from V.M. Salgaonkar College of Law, Goa, have filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Panjim Bench of the Mumbai High Court on the non-implementation of Section 44, 45, 46 (Barrier Free Access) provisions of the Persons with Disability Act, 1995.

The Court, taking cognisance of the PIL, has given four weeks to the respondents (the State government, the Central government, Kadamba Transport, Konkan Railway and the City Corporation of Panjim) to file their reply.
Disability Rights Association, an NGO of disabled persons in Goa, has requested the Court to be made a party to the petition.

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