Bombay HC Raps State Govt Over Delays In Filling Disability Advisory Board Vacancies

Bombay HC Raps State Govt Over Delays In Filling Disability Advisory Board Vacancies

Expressing “grave concern” over vacancies in the state advisory board constituted to frame policies under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday rapped the Maharashtra government for its “apathy” in filling up the posts despite its specific directions.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, July 11, 2024, 12:58 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: Expressing “grave concern” over vacancies in the state advisory board constituted to frame policies under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday rapped the Maharashtra government for its “apathy” in filling up the posts despite its specific directions.

The court noted that the vacancies were there from 2020 and despite its directions in March asking the principal secretary of the department of disability concerned, no steps were taken. The court said that the Disability Act enacted in 2017 also mandates setting up of an advisory board.

Additional government pleader (AGP) Abhay Patki submitted an affidavit from the secretary of the persons with disabilities welfare department, which stated that they had sent the proposal to the “state government” in July 2023 and the same is pending. Patki also informed the bench that the board was constituted in 2018, but the non-official members were later withdrawn by the state in 2020.

Taking an exception to the affidavit, the court questioned whether the said department was not under the state government. “Should such a matter come to court? Even after the court expressed concern about constituting a board? It is the mandate of parliament. Will you not follow it? What have you been doing since July 2023? Despite the court’s order since March,” a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar said.

The bench has directed the Additional Chief Secretary / Principal Secretary / Secretary of the Department for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities to appraise the court about the constitution of the board by Thursday (July 11).

“Having regard to the nature of the function the board is expected to perform, there cannot be any justification whatsoever of the matter being pending, even though a period of one year has elapsed since the commissioner made his proposal on 27 July 2023,” the bench said in a detailed order.

The court emphasised that the advisory board is mandated by an Act of the parliament to perform certain functions for persons with disability and it was the state’s duty to make it functional.

“Role of the advisory board assumes much significance for taking measures for the disabled persons in the state. However, apathy shown by the government in filling up vacancies in the board cannot be appreciated,” the court underlined. The bench has clarified that if clear instructions are not given to the AGP, the court may be “constrained to summon the officer for assistance”.

BMC counsel Anil Singh and MMRDA advocate Akshay Shinde informed the court that bollards on footpaths in their respective jurisdictions were removed/rectified. The court asked both the bodies to file an affidavit on the same.

The HC had taken a suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the issue after it received an email from wheelchair-bound Karan Shah, 25, highlighting the inaccessibility of footpaths, by people similarly placed as him, due to closely placed bollards.

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