Differently-abled Kerala woman gets a shot at driving license test
When Jilumol Mariet Thomas, 26, applied for a driving licence three years ago, officials told her she was asking for too much. Thomas was advised to employ a driver if she was so keen on travelling in a car. She refused to give up. Thomas was determined to overcome another challenge she faced for being born without hands.
She went from pillar to post but kept being told there was no provision for driving with legs under the Motor Vehicles Act, which governs the grant of driving licences.
Thomas eventually moved the Kerala high court as the last resort. Her perseverance paid off when the court directed the Regional Transport Officer in Idukki district’s Thodupuzha to accept Thomas’s application for learner’s licence after a year-long legal battle last month. She will finally get her learner’s certificate next week.
“A dream comes true for me. Now only some formalities have been left,” said Thomas, a graphic designer from Kochi.
Her friends and well-wishers have contributed money to buy her a car, which is undergoing alterations for her to drive with her legs.
“I used to drive automatic cars using my legs that are customised to do all my domestic chores. Since I did not have a valid licence, I could not take them on roads,’’ she said. “It is my dream to drive through busy roads and intersections of Kochi,” she said.
Thomas added if everything goes well, it will happen sooner. She said while looking for drivers, who drive vehicles with their legs, she came across one man in Indore but not a single woman anywhere in the country.
Thomas said she never felt she lacked anything and took up all challenges she has faced in her life. She did well in her studies and later began working as a graphic designer. She called painting her first love.
“We submitted her track-record and appraised the court that she is an independent and self-reliant girl and sought a lenient view. After hearing her in detail, the court allowed her to apply for a licence,” said Thomas’s lawyer, Shine Verghese. He said she will be the first to receive a licence for driving with legs in the country.
“During the court proceedings, I submitted video footage of an Australian woman driver and her story. In India, I am sure, she will be the first to receive the licence,” he said.
Thomas said she looks forward to going for long drives after she becomes a full-fledged driver. “If there is a will, there is a way. I want to tell all who face similar problems that do not waste your time and live your life on your own terms,” said Thomas, who is one of the founding members of the State Mouth and Foot Association, a group of differently-abled artists.