Complaints of discrimination against the disabled are common in matters of civic amenities, job appointments and admissions to educational institutions. But now one such case has emerged in relation to a life insurance scheme floated by the central government itself.
Slamming the Centre, the Delhi High Court has said it will quash its postal life insurance policy that charges the physically challenged extra premium.
State and central government employees are the beneficiaries of this policy. As per its rules, the assured sum for the disabled is much less while the premium much more than what is applicable to ordinary employees. The discrimination was brought to the notice of the court by a PIL filed by a visually challenged lawyer, Pankaj Sinha.
"Why this discrimination? How can you charge the disabled extra premium? They have the same risk factor as ordinary policyholders. The premium should be linked to various ailments — not disability," a bench headed by acting chief justice AK Sikri told the Centre's counsel.
"Disability is not a disease or a medical problem. We are going to quash the policy," the court said. Sinha told the bench: "While non-handicapped persons are insured for a maximum of Rs 5 lakh, disabled people are insured for a maximum of only Rs 1 lakh. The premium paid by disabled people is also more than the premium for non-disabled people."
The court rejected the Centre's argument that disabled people are more prone to accidental risks as compared to persons without any disability and therefore the premium charged should be marginally different.