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Court asks ministries to respond to PIL challenging separate ID cards for rail concessions for disabled people

26 July 2019. That's the deadline by when the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) have to respond to the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD)'s petition seeking to dismiss a circular mandating a separate disability identity card in order to avail concessions in booking railway tickets.

The circular issued by the Union Railways Ministry was challenged at the Delhi High Court by the NPRD, which is a nationwide cross disability rights group. The petition argued that the circular is in complete violation with the Unique Disability Identity Card (UDID) .

In court Advocate Subhash Chandran, lawyer for the petitioner, argued that a separate disability card would defeat the purpose of the UDID, which is to serve as a universal Id across India. The main purpose of the UDID is to save people with disabilities the hassle and harassment of getting separate certificates or cards for availing every government scheme.

The Chief Justice did not issue a stay on the circular but said that there was a case for the petitioner and set the date for the next hearing on 26 July. The Railways Ministry will have to file a counter affidavit by then. - Advocate Subhash Chandran, Lawyer for the petitioner

In issuing such a circular, the Railways Ministry is at odds with another government ministry, the MSJE, which has stated that "The UDID card will be the single document of identification, verification of the disabled for availing various benefits in future".

The UDID's legal validity is also provided for in Section 58, of RPWD Act 2016, which says "The certificate of disability issued under this section shall be valid across the country".

The decision to file the petition says the NPRD comes after "repeated appeals to the Railways to scrap this card which apart from imposing unwanted burdens on disabled persons was also costing the exchequer failed to receive any response".

ALSO READ:Railways' refusal to accept UDID cards underlines larger apathy towards disabled passengers

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