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HC to TN: Can’t buy buses that aren’t disabled-friendly

In a push for the rights and independence of people with disabilities in their commute, the Madras high court on Thursday restrained Tamil Nadu from purchasing any new bus to its fleet in the public transport system unless such buses were disabled-friendly as prescribed by law
By HT Correspondent, Chennai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 23, 2021 01:13 AM IST

In a push for the rights and independence of people with disabilities in their commute, the Madras high court on Thursday restrained Tamil Nadu from purchasing any new bus to its fleet in the public transport system unless such buses were disabled-friendly as prescribed by law.

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed the interim injunction on a batch of pleas that have been pending before the court for years including from as far back as 2005. One of the petitions in the case had sought to restrain the state from acquiring any further bus unless it conforms to the requirements of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 and under the latter, Rule 15 in particular. Rule 15 mandates that every establishment complies with the specified standard as indicated in a notification issued by the Government of India on September 20, 2016.

The state submitted to the court that there are certain practical difficulties, particularly in finding resources not only to acquire the more expensive buses but also to create the road infrastructure required for such sophisticated buses. The state sought more time to indicate a roadmap but the court rejected it and said that implementing this policy shouldn’t be delayed any further.

“... there may be no room to manoeuvre and little scope for the court to delay the implementation of the policy as reflected in the statute and the laws made thereunder,” the court said in its orders. “In other words, (the) State will not acquire any new bus for use thereof as part of the public transport system unless such bus meets the standards indicated in the notification of September 20, 2016.”

The matter has been posted to August 19.

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