Disabled Persons Do Not Have Substantive Equality: Delhi High Court

New Delhi: Despite the constitutional guarantee of equality before law, the harsh reality is that disabled persons do not have any substantive equality, the Delhi High Court observed on Tuesday.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar further said it was the responsibility of every authority and person to ensure social justice and equality to the marginalised as well as implement the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

“Despite the constitutional guarantee by Article 14 of equality before law and equal protection of the laws, it is a harsh reality that substantive equality has not been ensured to such disabled persons.

It is the responsibility of every authority and person to facilitate the compliance with the constitutional mandate ensuring social justice and equality to marginalised and that the spirit, intendment and purpose of the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 are ensured,” the court said.

The observations came on a PIL initiated by the bench itself on the issue of a visually-impaired man missing his M.Phil entrance exam as he could not board a reserved compartment of a train since it was locked from inside.

The bench said the obstruction to the student in accessing the reserved compartment of the train “was in violation of his constitutional right to equality and non-discrimination, and a breach of statutory duty of the respondent (Railway)”.

In the case, the court said that while the Railway was responsible for the impairment of the rights of the disabled student, the Delhi University (DU) cannot isolate itself from taking measures to secure his rights.

It said that DU will have to grant the student a chance to participate in the entrance exam for M.Phil (Sanskrit) course for the academic year 2017-18 like all other candidates.

The court said it was issuing the direction “to ensure equality and non-discrimination of a disabled person who is visually impaired and has been exposed to the most callous treatment because the respondents (DU and Railway) did not take effective steps as mandated under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act”.

It directed DU to conduct, within 10 days from Tuesday, an entrance exam for the student for admission to the M.Phil (Sanskrit) 2017-18 session and declare his result.

The bench said that if the student qualifies in the exam and “is placed appropriately in the merit list”, he shall be granted admission to the course.

It listed the matter on September 5 for a report indicating that its orders have been complied with.