The Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it has instructed all educational institutes in the state to ensure their buildings are disabled-friendly. The submission was made before a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil. In July this year, the court, when hearing a public interest litigation filed by a disabled student from Pune, had directed the government and the directorate of education to call for reports from educational institutes and universities on facilities for disabled students.
Mumbai University’s lawyer Rui Rodrigues today stated that the existing law mandates colleges imparting professional courses such as medicine and engineering to provide a “barrier-free environment” in their buildings.
Further, the government issued an order recently according to which all educational institutes should provide a disabled-friendly environment, he said. A government resolution (order) of August 23 says that all government-aided institutes providing higher education must reserve five per cent seats for disabled students.
Further, all educational institutes must provide barrier-free access and other requisite infrastructure facilities as required by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the government resolution says. Newly constructed buildings of educational institutes will not get completion certificates unless the buildings are disabled-friendly, it says, the lawyer told the HC.
The court directed the state to file a compliance report on the implementation of the government resolution in three months.
The PIL was filed by Pune resident Akanksha Kale through her lawyer Satyavrat Joshi. Kale, who is wheelchair-bound, moved the court in 2016 when she could not attend classes at a college in Pune because it did not have disabled-friendly infrastructure. The high court ordered the college to provide requisite facilities, and also directed the government to ensure that all schools and colleges have such facilities.
Kale moved the high court again this year, saying many institutes had not complied with the direction.