The Madras High Court on Thursday, July 22, ruled that the Tamil Nadu government shall not acquire any more buses without amenities for persons with disabilities. "The state will not acquire any new bus for use thereof as part of the public transport system unless such bus meets the standards indicated in the notification of September 20, 2016, relating to provision of access to the disabled," the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.
The bench was passing further interim orders on a batch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions, pending from 2005, seeking a direction to the government to acquire only buses with low floor and special seats and other provisions for the benefit of people with disabilities. The latest petition filed this year by Vaishnavi Jayakumar sought to restrain the government from acquiring any further buses to be added to the fleet in the public transport system unless they conformed to the requirements of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017, particularly Rule 15 thereof.
The bench noted that nothing fruitful or worthwhile had been done to address the genuine grievances or day-to-day problems faced by those with disabilities. Earlier, it was submitted on behalf of the state that there are certain practical difficulties, particularly in finding resources, not only to acquire the more expensive buses, but also to create the road infrastructure to host such sophisticated vehicles. It sought more time to indicate a road-map for the same.
The bench, however, said that in view of the mandate of the statute, read with the Rules framed thereunder and the notification published in 2016, there may be no room to manoeuvre and little scope for the court to delay implementation of the policy as reflected in the statute and the laws made thereunder.
Hence, it is necessary that the state be restrained from acquiring any further bus for the public transport system which does not provide the amenities to the disabled, the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on August 19.