DB directs Social Welfare Secy to file action plan or appear in person

PIL seeking adequate facilities for differently abled persons

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Nov 28: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Golden Heartz through its Director Parimoksh Seth seeking sufficient infrastructure and facilities in the School for Blind situated in Roop Nagar, Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal has directed the Commissioner Secretary to Government Social Welfare Department to place before the court an action plan for disability census within four weeks or appear in person on next date of hearing.
After hearing Advocates Navyug Sethi and Ankesh Chandel for the PIL whereas Government Advocate Sudesh Magotra for the State, DB further directed the respondents to place an action plan with regard to undertaking disability audits of public buildings which would include hospitals, bus stands, transport system, railway stations, airports, all Government buildings, pavements and parks etc.
The Division Bench, however, made it clear that in case the action plan and status reports are not filed within the period granted, Commissioner Secretary to Government Social Welfare Department shall remain present in court on the next date of hearing.
The Division Bench also impleaded Central Government through Secretary Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment as party respondent and issued notice with the direction that he shall file a status report regarding the central grants and measures for the disabled as well as the schemes which are operational for the benefit of the disabled/ differently abled persons in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The direction was also issued to the newly added respondent to inform the court with regard to the guidelines and policy framework which have been framed for implementation by the stakeholders to ensure equality and dignity to the disabled.
Earlier, Division Bench observed, “as per the status report filed by the respondents, the State Government is running a single school for the blind in Roop Nagar with the capacity of 25 children and this school is providing educational facilities only up to Class-V”, adding “this position discloses a callous disregard to the plight of the children who are visually impaired”.
“It cannot be lost sight of the fact that the visual impairment is just one of the disabilities which has been recognized by the legislature. The Jammu and Kashmir Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1998 recognizes several disabilities including hearing and speech impairment, loco motor disability, etc. Additionally, there are persons with mental difficulties as well”, the DB further said.
“It appears that we have not even begun to examine the needs and difficulties of persons with such impairments. Even with regard to visual impairment, the order dated 16th March, 2018 notes that approximately 3.61 lakh persons are suffering from various disabilities. This issue deserves to be examined on critical basis and action taken expeditiously”, the DB said, adding “the one critical aspect of the matter is to have a proper census of persons with disability and also disability audit taken all measures undertaken with regard to public buildings”.
The DB further observed that this deficiency in the facilities for education for the differently abled persons would also be rendering inconsequential employment reservations made to ensure employment opportunities to these persons. In view of the position brought on record with regard to the visual impairment and the fact that the matter is being taken up in a Public Interest Litigation, Division Bench expanded the scope of consideration to all disabilities and shall consider the steps taken by the respondents to ensure equality, dignity and necessary facilities to all disabilities.


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