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Delhi Disabilities Commissioner welcomes order setting up of Special Courts to try offences under RPWD Act 2016

The Delhi government's decision to set up Special Courts in each district of Delhi to try offences under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 has been received with much cheer. The announcement has come after the State Commissioner for Disabilities T D Dhariyal issued a suo moto order.

Four years after she filed a case against the Directorate of Education, Government of Delhi over her son's school admission, AS*, who does not wish to be identified, withdrew her petition earlier this year. "I was fed up of court hearings being postponed endlessly, the running around and the waiting", she says. AS says she has admitted her son, who has mild autism, to a local centre and has given up on her dream of enrolling him in a mainstream school.

When AS heard about the Delhi government's decision to set up Special Courts in each district to try offences against people with disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, it was a bittersweet feeling. "I am happy that others will not need to face the kind of issues I did. But I wish this had been there when I fought my case because then I am sure my son would have got admission into a mainstream school".

In its order dated 19 August, the Delhi government has announced - "In pursuance of the provisions of Section 84 of RPWD Act 2016, the court of Additional Sessions Judge-02 in each district in the jurisdiction of Delhi is designated as Special Court to try the offences under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. This issues with prior approval of Honourable Minister (Law), Government of NCT of Delhi".

This comes less than a month after the State Commissioner for Disabilities T D Dhariyal issued a suo moto order threatening to approach the Delhi High Court seeking implementation of Sections 84 and 85 of the RPWD Act without delay. In his letter, addressed to the Principal Secretary, Department of Law, Justice & Legislative Affairs, Government of NCT of Delhi, Mr Dhariyal said that for every Special Court, the government must specify a public prosecutor or appoint an advocate, who has been in practice for not less than seven years, as a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases in that court.

He also mentioned the specific qualifications the public prosecutor must have:

  • Practical experience of handling cases, preferably of persons with disabilities.
  • Experience at the bar of not less than seven years.
  • Should be familiar with local language and customs.

Speaking to NewzHook, Mr Dhariyal said he was happy and satisfied with the announcement, although it could have been done many months ago.

This is a very powerful order and I am happy. This means that now if the State Disabilities Commissioner receives any complaint regarding violation of the RPWD Act or even the 1995 Disabilities Act and the complaint is found to be valid, then an order can be issued to the agency or person responsible for the violation to address it. If the complainant has not been given direction as per my order or no explanation has been given for the non-compliance within three months, the matter will be taken up by the Special Courts. - T D Dhariyal, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Delhi

Mr Dhariyal encourages the community to come forward with complaints. "Anybody can come and if I find there has been a violation, even under the 1995 Act, an order can be passed".

Shailja Sharma, a legal expert in disability matters and parent to a child with disability, believes the courts will significantly impact the disabled community. "In the absence of such Special Courts, you have to follow a long procedure to go to various departments or approach the Disabilities Commissioner, be it a hospital-related issue or road rage. This will help resolve matters quicker".

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