THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab government to apprise it regarding the steps being taken to implement the law for formulating and implementing necessary schemes and programmes to safeguard and promote the right of persons with disabilities. It also directed the Union government to inform it about the funds made available to the state government for the purpose.
“The list of physically handicapped persons in Punjab be also made available to the court and it be indicated in the additional affidavit as to how many are in receipt of monetary benefits under the Schemes and also to show as to whom disability certificates have been issued district wise,” Justice Rajiv Narain Raina said in the order.
The order was passed in a suo motu case by the court after amicus curiae Arjun Sheoran apprised it that the state government in its affidavit regarding the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act has not even adverted to the Section 24 of the Act – the provision requires the governments to initiate schemes and programmes for adequate standard of living of differently-abled to enable them to live independently or in the community.
Under the Act, a state government is required to formulate a scheme for community centres for persons with disabilities, facilities for persons including children with disabilities who have no family or have been abandoned, or are without shelter or livelihood; support to women with disability for livelihood and for upbringing of their children and other such means for their social security.
In its affidavit, the Punjab Department of Social Security & Women and Child Development informed that special courts have been designated for providing access to justice to the persons with disabilities, instructions have been issued to schools that no student with disability be denied admission and vocational training is provided to the differently-abled at Bathinda, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur. The process for recruitment of clinical psychologists is underway, the State has said.
The HC was also told that the state government has formulated guidelines to provide 4 per cent reservation in both direct recruitment and promotion in all groups of services in its departments. However, the official reply adds, the guidelines are under active consideration of the government. At least 330 government buses and 870 private buses have been made accessible to the persons with disabilities in accordance with provisions of Code of Practice for bus body design.
“These buses are facilitated with public address system, panic button and reservation of seats. All the Bus Stands are provisioned with ramps and wheel chairs,” reads the reply, adding there is also a policy for concessional travel in government buses with the visually impaired persons entitled for 100 percent concession and others entitled for 50 percent disability.