Volume 2 Issue 9 - May 01, 2004

CJI takes up access issue

DNIS News Network -- On April 16 a three-judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare, Justices S.B. Sinha and S.H. Kapadia issued notices to the Election Commission and the Central Government on a petition filed by the Disabled Rights Group (DRG).

DRG filed the petition to ensure facilities are provided to allow disabled people to cast their votes in the forthcoming General Election. The authorities concerned have been ordered to file a reply to the judgment by April 19.

The counsel for the EC, S Murlidharan, had argued unsuccessfully that it had already issued orders to the chief electoral officers of the States to provide all facilities wherever possible to enable disabled voters to exercise their franchise. It had ordered that blind voters could take a companion to cast their votes but this measure was rejected by DRG activists as a violation of the right to a secret ballot.

The CJI also said he had earlier delivered a judgment ordering the creation of trust with corpus of Rs 800 crore from the money "illegally" accumulated by banks' rounding of accounts. The bench had directed that this amount be spent on the welfare of the physically challenged.

In the light of the court's decision, the CJI asked DRG to persuade its convener, Javed Abidi, to end his fast-unto-death undertaken in protest against the Election Commission.

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