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Tamil Nadu government fails to introduce special courts, groups demands speedy action

According to the RPWD Act, 2016, special courts for disabled people must be set up in every district across India. Disability rights activists point out that not even one special court is set up in the state of Tamil Nadu. They are gearing up to protest against this government apathy.

It has been over three years since the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD) came into effect yet many of its provisions are yet to see the light of day. One of them mandates that all districts across India must have special courts to clear cases. The Tamil Nadu government has failed terribly in this and activists are up in arms.

Sections 84 and 85 of the RPWD Act clearly states that it is mandatory to establish special courts in all districts so that cases of people with disabilities can be done without any hassles. The act also states that a disabled person must receive a public prosecutor or advocate free of cost. Unfortunately, not even one special court has been set up anywhere across the state.

Smita Sadasivam, Member, Disability Rights Alliance had sent a petition to Madras High Court and other concerned authorities on August 2018 regarding this matter. Smita points out that she has not yet received a response from the top court.

Advocate Muruganantham who has been fighting for the rights of disabled people says most government officials are not even aware of the RPWD Act, 2016.

The Madras High Court has not yet responded to our petition. It has been three years and why is there a delay in implementing the act? People keep asking why a special court must be introduced for disabled community. Look at our public transport and buildings. Even those are inaccessible and not disabled friendly. So imagine the plight of fighting for case at a court along with other people who do not have any disabilities? It is going to be a tough process. That is precisely why we need exclusive courts for people from disabled community. - Advocate Muruganantham

He points to a recent case where a girl who had a mental disability was sexually assaulted at Tirupur. Her case is still pending at the court. "If there was a special court, the victim would have got speedy justice".

Disability rights activists, who are tired of the official apathy, will stage a protest if they do not get their rights. Moreover, a special court is crucial so that all the provisions that are mentioned under RPWD Act can be rightly implemented.

TMN Deepak, Co-founder, 3 December movement says that the Chief Justice of India must ensure that this key provision is rightly implemented.

"The Tamil Nadu government has failed in implementing disability rights acts yet again. The state government must work with the judiciary so that these special courts are introduced without fail. In fact, if you look at it, none of the provisions of RPWD Act, 2016 are implemented in Tamil Nadu. Officials are conveniently ignoring rights of the community. Rules have not come into reality", says Deepak.

ALSO READ: Tamil Nadu disability groups give a push to greater sensitization of people in positions of authority

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