Delhi High Court Upholds Indian Railways' Separate ID Card Requirement for Differently-Abled Travelers
New Delhi: In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court upheld the Indian Railways' decision to make it mandatory for differently-abled persons to obtain a separate photo ID card to avail of concessions for rail travel. The judgment contradicted the universal validity of the disability certificate issued by the appropriate authority while recognising the legitimacy of the railways' separate identification card.
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), through a Writ Petition (W.P. (C) 2501/2019), had approached the court seeking the nullification of the circular issued by the Indian Railways. The NPRD argued that the Unique Disability Identity Card (UDID) issued by the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) should serve as the single document for identifying and verifying differently-abled people for availing various benefits. They asserted that the railways' insistence on issuing its separate ID card defeated the purpose of the UDID.
Despite the disability certificate's nationwide recognition, the court ruled in favour of the railways' requirement for a separate ID card. The judgment comes at a time when the possession of the UDID has been made mandatory for availing benefits under all central government schemes since April 1, 2023, though the railways have not accepted it.
The petitioner, NPRD, expressed disappointment with the court's decision, highlighting that the railways' action is in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPD Act). They criticised the court for basing its decision on the grounds of concessions, which were not the primary concern of the petition. The NPRD stressed that concessions should be viewed as a responsibility of the state towards marginalised and disadvantaged individuals rather than as acts of generosity.
“Equally baffling is that even though the NPRD had not sought any relief about concessions, the entire order is premised on this ground, which is, to put it mildly, a faulty reading of the petition. Of the total nine pages of the order, five and a half are devoted merely to detailing the various types of concessions in fares that the railways are providing. Concessions cannot be viewed as some sort of largesse but as a matter of the state's duty towards the marginalised and disadvantaged,” the statement read.
In response to the ruling, the NPRD has announced its intention to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. “The NPRD, while expressing its strong displeasure, will be challenging this in the Supreme Court,” it read.
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