Deaf and dumb employees entitled to transport allowance on a par with visually impaired and orthopaedically handicapped

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and State governments and other establishments to pay deaf and dumb employees transport allowance on a par with what is given to the visually impaired and the orthopedically handicapped.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri said: Human dignity of a deaf and dumb person is harmed when he/she is being marginalised, ignored or devalued on the ground that the disability… is less than [what] a visually impaired person suffers.” This, “in our view, clearly violates Article 21 [protection of life and liberty] of the Constitution.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Comparison of disabilities among “persons of disabilities”, without any rational basis, is clearly violative of Article 14 [equality before law]. The recommendation made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for extending the benefit of transport allowance to government employees suffering from hearing impairment in equal with blinds and orthopedically handicapped government employees is perfectly legal and is in consonance with Articles 14 and 21.”

The Bench noted that the pleas made by the hearing and speech impaired persons had fallen on deaf ears all these years. Their claim had to be considered dispassionately with a human touch, especially in the wake of the Disabilities Act and on the basis of various international Conventions, to which India is party.

The Bench said the Finance Ministry “took the view that a visually impaired person cannot be equated with hearing impaired persons since persons who are deaf and dumb are not physically dependent on others for commuting. Hence they are not entitled to double rate of transport allowance. This view, in spite of the recommendations made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for not providing transport allowance to its government employees suffering from hearing impairment, cannot be sustained.”

The judges said: “Travel undertaken by the deaf and hearing impaired employees is equally arduous and burdensome as compared to persons having other disabilities referred to in Section 2 (i) of the Disabilities Act. ”

The Bench allowed the writ petition filed by the Deaf Employees Welfare Association and directed the respondents.


  • Deaf and dumb employees entitled to allowance on a par with visually impaired

  • ‘Consider claims of the speech and hearing impaired with a human touch’