High Court direction comes after plea states old buildings, hospitals inaccessible
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the government and civic bodies here to submit details of all government offices and public buildings which are not disabled friendly.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar gave the order after it was told that while new buildings are disabled friendly, most of the old buildings, including hospitals, are not.
The Bench had previously made known its intent to create “an enabling environment, which permits inclusive participation and usage by the disabled of all such buildings”.
It directed the Central and the State governments, the Public Works Department, the municipal corporations, the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Police to submit a tabulation of their respective buildings after conducting a ‘disabled access audit’.
The court also asked all the authorities to submit details of measures put in place to make existing buildings conducive to the physically disabled, and visually and auditory impaired people.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation had in its report claimed that its buildings were disabled friendly as they all had ramps. However, the Bench said building only ramps was insufficient as it does not take care of people with visual impairment.
Advocate Naushad Ahmed Khan, appearing for the Delhi government and the Delhi police, said all new buildings of the Delhi Police were disabled friendly, including the police headquarters.
Mr. Khan said the “difficulty” was with regard to old buildings and police stations, which were built about 30 to 20 years ago.
“At that relevant time, the norms were not taken into consideration during their construction. To make these buildings compliant with the Rights to Person with Disability Act, 2016, major structural changes will be required in the present scenario,” Mr. Khan said.
The court was hearing of a petition filed in public interest by Nipun Malhotra seeking directions to make the Capital’s roads, government offices and public transport friendly for the differently abled. The plea had alleged that “most public facilities”, such as public transportation, sidewalks, roads, footpaths and government buildings, did not meet the needs of the differently abled.