The Madras High Court on Tuesday permitted the Tamil Nadu government to purchase 2,213 new diesel and 500 electric buses on condition that they strictly conformed to the provisions in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
The first bench of Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice N Mala granted the permission while passing orders on a batch of public interest writ petitions seeking effective implementation of the 2016 Act and the rules framed thereunder.
Vacating the interim stay granted in July, 2021, the bench passed the order today.
Earlier, Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram told the bench that the government was purchasing disabled-friendly buses in phases because the roads were in bad shape and they would damage the low-floored buses, costing Rs 58 lakh each against the cost of Rs 26 lakh for the ordinary buses.
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One of the petitioners was Vaishnavi Jayakumar, a disability rights advocate, who challenged a GO issued in February 2021 for introduction of only 10 per cent of low floor buses and 25 per cent of buses fitted with lift mechanism or any other suitable mode, to provide easy access to wheelchair bound passengers, out of the total buses to be procured for the MTC.
She contended that the GO violated Sec. 41 of the 2016 Act. The legislation required the government to take suitable steps to provide movement facilities for persons with disabilities at bus stops, railway stations and airports and also access to all modes of transport by even retrofitting old transport modes wherever it is technically feasible.