File report on giving gadgets to handicapped staff: HC

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The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government to file an interim report by April 7 on steps taken by it to provide gadgets and devices to handicapped employees working in state-run establishments.

Hearing a PIL, the bench, headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah, also asked the state to issue directions to civil surgeons in hospitals to issue fitness certificate before May 31 to 2400 handicapped state government employees who were awaiting driving licences.

Government pleader G W Mattos said physically-handicapped persons are asking for ‘side cars’ to be attached to their two wheelers so that they could balance the vehicle while driving. However, RTOs were not granting them licence for want of fitness certificates from civil surgeons.

The government also said there were 18,000 handicapped persons with various disabilities employed by it.

Camps are being organised for various handicapped employees from time to time. However, they have been demanding gadgets required by them. Of the 8254 persons who had asked for gadgets, 4151 were given supplies while orders were placed for another 1000.

However, the court expressed its displeasure saying only half of the handicapped, numbering about 4000, were given gadgets and order for 1000 new gadgets was placed when in fact another 4000 were expecting to get supply.

The pleader said orders were placed only for 1000 gadgets because of fluctuations in the price of dollar as these articles were imported.

However, the court said the price fluctuation of dollar was a permanent feature and this should not be the reason for shortfall in purchase orders.

The matter arose from a PIL filed by Neelima Surve, a visually-impaired person who had got a job in Chetna College in suburban Bandra. She was removed from job but was reinstated after the court intervened. Later, the scope of this PIL was expanded to include all handicapped persons working in government jobs who were denied facilities.

Earlier, the court wanted to know whether the state had adopted guidelines framed by the Centre with regard to recruitment of disabled people or if it had prepared its own.