The Bombay High Court has directed Chief Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities at the Centre and in Maharashtra to instruct all educational institutions in the country to provide a barrier-free environment for disabled students by March 2015.
The direction was given on Friday by a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah on a petition filed by Akanksha Vardhaman Kale, a handicapped student in Pune.
The judges directed the government to file a compliance report by December 15 saying that such arrangements had been provided or were being made.
Barrier free environment for disabled students should include ramp, lift and washroom facilities to accommodate wheel chairs, said the court.
The court also asked the Pune University to instruct all colleges and educational institutions, examination centres and concerned departments to provide such facilities for disabled students.
The court has ordered that such facilities for disabled students should be provided by all the educational institutions by March 2015.
The petitioner had prayed that in the absence of such facilities it becomes difficult for her to appear for examinations in colleges.
The court was informed that the Principal of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce in Pune had assured that his institution was ready to extend cooperation permitting the petitioner to appear for the examination at the college between November 7 and 20.
However, the principal stated that the college is going for third cycle of reaccreditation, NAAC and for that purpose repairing and renovation work is scheduled during that period.
The court observed, “While we appreciate that Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, Pune, is going ahead with the repairing and renovation work, we request the authorities to see that the petitioner is provided noise free and barrier free environment during the examination on seven days on which the petitioner will be appearing.”
The court’s attention was drawn to a circular dated July 11, 2001, issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to vice chancellors of all universities asking them to ensure barrier free environment for the disabled students.
The court was also informed that on December 8, 2012, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had instructed to make all educational institutions (buildings of universities, colleges and technical institutes, etc) barrier free and accessible for all types of disabilities.
The UGC had also issued a circular dated February 9, 2012 to the universities to take follow up action to make educational institutions barrier free and accessible for all types of disabilities.
The matter will be heard on December 15.