SC monitors implementation of its judgment on accessibility

In December last year, the Supreme Court had passed a path breaking judgment with directions to the Center and States to make public buildings, transportation systems and information services accessible to persons with disabilities. This was in the case of Rajive Raturi vs. Union of India, argued by the Disability Law Initiative and the Human Rights Law Network .  Now, finding that the plans set down by the Center and States to comply with the judgment are vague and lacking in material details, the SC has directed them to submit precise, tabulated plans with quantitative details and time frames. The SC has warned that a “serious view” would be taken in case of default.

The December 15, 2017 judgment ( click here for the judgment ) had given the Center and States three months to place a plan before the Court to provide accessibility in several areas, such as government buildings (hospitals, government offices, etc.), bus transport, railway stations, airports, government web sites and public documents, and provision of sign language interpreters in public places. However, the affidavits filed in the Court as of October 5th, 2018, the last date of hearing, indicated scant progress. Whereas a number of government buildings had been identified, very few had actually been made accessible. Railway stations and airports had been provided with just the basic elements of accessibility, such as ramps and modified toilets, but other required measures such as help desks for disabled passengers, pathways with tactile markers, and inter-platform transfer facilities had not been provided. Very little work had been done to make government websites and public documents accessible according to global standards. There had been no planning as to the number of sign language interpreters required in places where public facilities were offered, and very few such interpreters had been trained.

The latest order of the Court requires that the plans be submitted by the Center and the States in a tabular format suggested by the petitioner, with precise details, such as

– Identification of work to be done with numerical targets

– Particulars of funds released

– Work completed so far with quantitative details

– Target dates for remaining work

– Audit reports of completed accessibility work to be placed on the Government websites

The Court has required that the plans be submitted by 13th November, 2018, and has warned the state governments that a serious view would be taken of non-compliance.