Visually impaired staff not paid salary during lockdown, Bombay HC tells BMC to respond to PIL
The Bombay High Court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to respond to a public interest litigation filed by the National Association for the Blind that has raised the issue of non payment of salaries to over 200 visually impaired civic employees during the lockdown.
“All ministries and department where advised to exempt persons with disabilities (PwD) from duties while drawing up roster of employees required to attend to essential services”.
This is the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pension of the Government of India order in March 2020 that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been charged with disregarding.
The National Association for the Blind (NAB) has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court raising non payment of salaries by the BMC to to 250 blind and low vision impaired employees during the coronavirus lockdown.
The PIL has sought directions to the BMC to treat the absenteeism of its disabled employees employees, especially those with vision impairments, as special leave without loss of pay.
On 27 March, the central government exempted all government employees with disabilities from reporting for duty during the lockdown. Similar directions were issued by the Maharashtra government on 21 April.
However, on 25 May, the BMC issued a circular directing that its disabled employees be given leave which is permitted under the Municipal Services Act. Under this, if these employees have used up sanctioned leaves, they will not get a salary if they don’t report for work.
The PIL by NAB states that disabled BMC employees are facing financial hardship as they have not been getting their salaries.
As of today it is difficult for a normal person or one with regular eyesight to travel and reach the place of working. ..So far as people with disabilities are concerned, more particularly blind or low vision candidates, they are required assistance..However, during this pandemic situation, no one is ready to touch a blind person if he/she is traveling and needs assistance. Considering this situation different government departments directed to exempt disabled employees..and directed that the period of absence may be treated as Special Leave without loss of pay. – National Association of the Blind petition
In court, Uday Warunjikar, advocate for the NAB, also pointed out that the lack of conveyance facility provided by BMC made it hard for visually impaired employees to reach office.
The next hearing in the matter will be two weeks from now and the Bombay High Court has directed the BMC to file its reply.
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