The Delhi High Court has pulled up the city government for “not taking a single step for ensuring accessible transport” for the differently abled, while restraining it from procuring standard-floor buses.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar remarked that the government and the Delhi Transport Corporation were treating the differently abled as “non-existent”.
The court also made it clear that it was passing an interim order and would take a final view in the matter after hearing all the parties.
It refused to agree with the government’s submission that only 10% of the buses had to be differently abled friendly.
This, the court said, showed “they are bent upon treating the disabled as non-existent, or, in any case not having any rights”.
“Procuring buses which are inaccessible to the disabled infracts the mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016,” the Bench remarked.
It also said the decision of the government to go ahead with standard-floor buses was in complete violation of the “harmonious guidelines and space standards for barrier-free built environment for persons with disabilities and elder persons” and violated of the right to road safety of city residents.
The court was hearing petitions moved by Nipun Malhotra, who suffers from locomotor disability, challenging the tenders for standard-floor buses. In his first petition, Mr. Malhotra challenged the government’s decision last year to procure 2,000 standard-floor buses at a cost of ₹300 crore.
Thereafter, he moved a second petition against a second tender floated in March this year by the DTC and the government to procure 1,000 standard-floor buses.
In his fresh plea, he has contended that the authorities have “completely failed to take into account the issues which would be faced by the differently abled and elderly population, when it comes to basic access to public transport”. The Bench posted the matter for hearing on July 16.