Delhi's district courts lack facilities for people with disabilities

Asia-Pacific, August 11 2015

NEW DELHI: A day after TOI carried a report on the plight of a disabled accused who was forced to crawl on his hands to a fifth-floor courtroom, all six district courts of Delhi were found lacking in facilities for such people. And it is not only the accused, but also litigants, lawyers as well as the victims of crime with physical disability who are left to fend for themselves.

Observers say the facilities exist only on paper. People with disabilities are left with no option but to arrange wheelchairs for themselves, if they can afford one.

Patiala House court in the heart of the city does not have any accessible toilet. There is no lift or ramp leading to the courtrooms located on first floor of the building. Though Tis Hazari and Karkardooma courts have lifts and accessible toilets, they can’t be used—lifts don’t work most of the time and toilets are perennially filthy.

The new court complexes in Rohini, Saket and Dwarka are better designed compared to the three old ones, but they too are not accessible. Lifts are ordinary and toilets are always locked for reasons best known to authorities.

Except for Patiala House court, officials of other five court complexes claim they have wheelchairs for people with mobility disabilities, including lawyers, litigants, victims or accused. Jail authorities and police are supposed to provide wheelchairs to accused being produced in courts. Sources say there is no signage in the courts or any counter to guide people with disabilities.

Sources in the administration admit that people with disabilities do face problems in courts. Lawyers suggest the authorities put up proper signage, hire attendants and create one-stop facility for people with disabilities. “It is a big problem which needs to be resolved immediately as everybody has the right to justice. Whatever facilities exist, it exists on paper. It is the duty of the court administration to provide special facilities to people with disabilities who come to courts. They cannot be left on their own as is the case at present,” said R K Wadhwa, president of District Court Bar Association.

Lawyer Pankaj Sinha who has fought for rights of people with disabilities calls it a huge problem.

“It’s very sad that lower courts are inaccessible to people with disabilities. They cannot be denied their right to justice just because courts are not accessible for people with disabilities,” said Sinha.

Source: Times of India

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