If office inaccessible to divyangjan, officers must go to them: ruling
The ruling came after a video of wheelchair-bound Virali Modi going through a harrowing experience on her wedding day went viral
If a government office is operating from a building or premise which is not accessible to a person with disability (PwD) or divyangjan, then the officers concerned should go to the ground floor or another accessible location to serve them, the court of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities has said.
The ruling by the chief commissioner came after a video of a wheelchair-bound Virali Modi going through a harrowing experience on the day of her wedding went viral.
She had to be carried to the second-floor office of a marriage registrar in the city on her wedding day because the building had no lift, and the officials refused to come down to complete the formalities.
Following the viral post, chief commissioner for persons with disabilities Rajesh Aggarwal held a hearing and ruled that despite “very clear statutory mandates”, various public buildings and public services are still not made fully accessible.
The court of the chief commissioner for PwD, in its order on Thursday, said the time limit for making old public buildings accessible is already over and considering that the public services run by the government are generally monopolistic, leaving no choice to the customer or citizen/beneficiary to seek the service elsewhere.
"Hence, concerned officers of any government office across the country, whether a central government or a state government establishment or a local government, officiating from any buildings/premises which are still not made accessible, shall go down to the ground floor or any other place in the building/premises which is accessible for divyangjan along with necessary staff and equipment and provide the service there itself. This shall be applicable to any public service including outsourced service by the government such as the Passport/Visa services, Jan Suvidha Kendras, CSC, etc.," the court said.
The Central / state public works department/ municipal corporation or any other agency, responsible for giving fitness or rent reasonability certificates for hiring or renting or renewal of the hiring or renting of any public or private building shall not give certificates unless the building is accessible, it said.
"If a government establishment owning or managing a building or operating from a building which is not accessible and is not also willing to prioritise the required work of alteration, then the public works department concerned shall report the matter to their head of the department with information to this court or the court of the state commissioner for persons with disabilities concerned, as the case may be,” the court said.
The court of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, part of the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, oversees various responsibilities, including identifying legal inconsistencies, investigating rights deprivation, reviewing safeguards, studying international instruments, promoting research, raising awareness, and monitoring the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.