In a landmark judgment benefiting 50 million people in the country, the Delhi high court on Monday said people with hearing impairment can also drive.
If they meet the necessary criteria and pass the test, they will be given driving licences and allowed to drive, the high court said.
Hitherto, deaf were barred from appearing in driving tests as the archaic Motor Vehicles Act considered them a source of danger to the public.A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said, "Even if an applicant is totally deaf, he has to be called for a test. Even if he applies for a learner’s licence without a medical certificate and clears the test, he should be granted a learner’s licence.
The order comes in a two-year-old PIL by the National Association of Deaf seeking direction to allow them to obtain a driving licence.
Human rights activist and lawyer Colin Gonsalves who argued the case on the behalf of the deaf said: “It is a historic judgement. Till now, deaf was presumed to be incapable of driving and were automatically debarred from even sitting for a test. He said deaf are allowed to drive all over the world, except in 26 countries.
Defending denial of license to deaf, the Centre cited the prevailing road manners in India and the frightening accident rate, the highest in the world. It said a special meeting of Central Motor Vehicles Rules- technical standing committee convened on December 9, 2010, which considered the PIL, had reaffirmed the decision. Court, however, refused to direct special conditions permitted by other countries for grant of licence to deaf saying it was the duty of the legislature.