Madras HC: Can’t Direct State to Treat all visually Impaired Persons on Par with Other Disabled Persons

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: September 20th, 2022 at 20:33 IST

The Madras High Court on Monday said that it cannot direct the state government to treat all visually impaired people on par with other differently abled people who may be incapable of any employment.

“Therefore, we are of the view that we cannot direct the respondents to treat all the differently abled persons under visually impaired category on par with differently abled persons who are incapable of any employment.”

The division bench of Acting Chief Justice M. Duraiswamy and Justice Sunder Mohan made the observations on a plea by Nethrodaya, an organisation working for the differently abled community.

The petitioner organisation had sought the transfer of the pension scheme for the visually impaired from the social welfare department to the differently abled department. The second prayer was to enhance the pension of the visually impaired people from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500, on par with that given to other differently abled people.

The NGO had contended that by giving disabled pensions, the state discriminated against those visually impaired and other differently abled people, thus violating Article 14 of the Constitution. It was argued that visually impaired people are equally incapacitated.

The petitioner submitted that some visually impaired people were incapable of earning a livelihood and they ought to be treated on par with other differently abled people. Further, it was argued that the cost of living was the same for all people; thus, discrimination in the quantum of allowance paid was illogical and unfounded.

The NGO had contended that the social welfare department was not acting fairly and that the differently abled people who were visually impaired had to go through several hardships. The state, in response, informed the court that revenue divisional officers would be appointed in all districts to look into the grievances of the differently abled people.

However, because the petitioner claimed that certain visually impaired people are also ineligible for employment due to other illnesses, infirmities, and old age, the division bench ordered the state to consider their request to treat them on par with other differently abled people who receive the monthly maintenance allowance.

The court thus directed the respondents to ensure strict adherence to the undertaking and ensure that no hardship is caused to the differently abled people in getting the benefits under the monthly pension scheme and no unnecessary formalities are insisted upon.

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