The Delhi High Court on March 13 issued notices to the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) — asking them to file their responses to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD).
The PIL seeks quashing of a circular issued by the railway ministry in March 2015, saying that it is mandatory for disabled persons to get a separate disability card to avail concessions while travelling on the trains.
The NPRD contends that this demand for a separate ID issued by the railways is in conflict with the Unique Disability Identity (UDID) card issued in 2015 under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
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The UDID card is to serve as “the single document of identification, verification of the disabled for availing various benefits in future”, according to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
“Earlier, persons with disability needed to get multiple, separate certificates to get disability concessions under various sectors/schemes. They faced enormous difficulties. The UDID was meant to serve as the ID for all purposes. The idea was to replace the need for multiple and separate certificates and cards,” said Muralidharan Vishwanath, general secretary of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), speaking to Newsclick.
“But the railways demanding that disabled people mandatorily get a separate card, without which they cannot get concessions defeats that purpose.”
The Railway Ministry’s demand is also in conflict with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, he said, according to which a certificate issued in one state is valid throughout the country.
He said that the card was given legal validity when it was included under sub-section (3) of section 58, of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which says, “The certificate of disability issued under this section shall be valid across the country.”
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The NPRD approached the high court after appeals to the railway ministry to scrap this card that foisted yet another burden on disabled persons did not elicit any response. Vishwanath said NPRD had raised this matter with the ministry of railways as well as the ministry of social justice & empowerment on two occasions.
The PIL demands that taking cognisance of the tremendous difficulties that the imposition to acquire separate certificates entails for the disabled community, the circular by the railways and the separate railway concession card for the disabled be scrapped.
Admitting the PIL, the Delhi high court issued notices to the railways and the MSJE which summons a response before the next date of hearing. The next hearing of the matter is listed for July 26.