November 12, 2019
A 2016 Act that sought the establishment of special courts for the differently-abled has not seen the light of the day. This is sheer nonchalance, says an advocate.
The term “disabled” has been replaced with “differently-abled” to instil in them a sense of confidence and dignity, but changing the status of this section of people on paper is simply not enough. The Covai Post got down to finding out how things have changed for the differently-abled on the ground.
According to section 84 of the Right to Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016, (Central act 49 of 2016) special courts must be established to exclusively try the cases involving differently-abled persons.
Advocate S.Palanisamy told The Covai Post, “The act was enacted in 2016. But due to negligence, this was not put into effect. This year, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order to implement the act by which cases involving disabled people should be heard in designated courts in each district. Also, the government should appoint lawyers to appear for the differently-abled persons free of cost. Only after the government order, this has been put into effect”.
According to the 2011 census, there are 1,179,963 (including all types of disabilities) people who are differently-abled in Tamil Nadu. They form a substantial number, but are being neglected in many ways.
Dr. P. Nagaraj, a teacher who is a member of National Association of Blind Educators told The Covai Post, “A lot of cases related with differently-abled persons are still pending due to the nonchalance of the government. The GO was passed in 2019. We are not demanding anything new. It is enough if the government implements the RPWD Act properly. We are happy that some initiative has been taken at least now.”
He said there are many practical difficulties for the differently-abled people right from travel, and said that this was a welcome move. He said that this must be sustained and more awareness must be generated among the people concerned to make them aware of their legal privileges”.
Citing an instance, a doctor who supports visually-challenged people, said, “Two years back, we had to file a case involving a visually impaired student from Coimbatore. The student had to travel from Coimbatore to Chennai to attend the trials. Had this act been implemented earlier, so much trouble would have been avoided.”
Apart from courts, there are still so many issues to be dealt with, she said. Suggesting a few measures, she said, “First of all, education and public places must be accessible to differently-abled. Signboards written in Braille letters, ramp provisions, libraries with special computers must be established everywhere. Only then physically challenged people will be able to gain knowledge about their rights.”