High Court Unveils 'Defunct' Disability Advisory Board in Maharashtra

Mainstream
29-Mar-2024
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In a striking revelation, the Bombay High Court has uncovered the startling reality of the State Advisory Board's dormancy concerning policies for disabled individuals under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, terming it a mere "paper mandate" in Maharashtra.

Expressing dismay over the Board's inactivity for over four years, the division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Updhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor remarked sharply on the matter.

"Two meetings in four years? Do we need to issue court orders to activate statutory boards? Is legislation merely for display on shelves?" the Court voiced its discontent.

The Court's displeasure stemmed from the revelation made by government pleader Purnima Kantharia that the Board convened only twice between 2018 and 2019, with no meetings held thereafter, drawing criticism from the bench.

The case initiated suo motu following a Mumbai resident's letter highlighting the inaccessibility of footpaths due to safety bollards, prompted the Court to seek accountability.

"Why enact legislation if it remains unimplemented? Is legislation meant to gather dust on bookshelves?" the Court questioned, emphasizing the necessity for tangible action.

In response to the Court's scrutiny, the government has been summoned to provide explanations within two weeks regarding the implementation status of accessibility guidelines and initiatives to enhance disabled persons' access to public spaces.

This development underscores the pressing need for effective implementation of disability policies and the State's accountability in ensuring the rights and accessibility of individuals with disabilities. The Court is slated to reconvene on the matter in July, signaling a proactive stance toward addressing systemic deficiencies.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University