Expressing serious concern that the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 for the benefit of the differently-abled had not been implemented so far, the Supreme Court on Thursday warned the States of contempt action if the Act was not implemented properly.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar in a brief order said: “On going through the provisions of the Act, prima facie, we are dissatisfied that several important statutory duties have remained non-compliant till date. We are not even sure as to whether the Central Co-ordination Committee has been duly constituted under Section 3 by the Central government, as provided in 1995 Act.”
Earlier senior counsel Colin Gonzalves, appearing for the petitioner Rajive Raturi, submitted that that though several guidelines have been framed under the Act for the benefit of the differently-abled, neither the Centre nor the States showed interest in implementing the same. He said that though the National Building Code and the Central Public Works Department had framed guidelines for creating special facilities for differently-abled persons at public places such as railway stations, bus terminus, airports, trains, buses and aircraft, till date no such facility had been created.
The Bench in its order directed the Centre to provide the following information within four weeks: “Whether the Central Coordination Committee has been constituted under Section 3 of 1995 Act. If not, we would like to know within what period the said Committee would be constituted in accordance with the Act.; If Central Co-ordination Committee has been constituted, whether such Committee has given directions/guidelines to the State Coordination Committees under 1995 Act.
“If such guidelines exist, they should be annexed to the affidavit. We also want to know whether any funds have been disbursed to the State Co-ordination Committees. If so, whether utilisation certificates have been issued by the State government from time to time.”
The Bench said: “This order is strictly based on the provisions of 1995 Act, particularly, Sections 3, 8, 13 and 18 and the provisions of Chapters VII and VIII of 1995 Act. We make it clear that if the States do not enforce the National Building Code of India as well as the guidelines issued by the Central Public Works Department, we would be taking contempt proceedings, for which the petitioner(s) could move before this Court.”