The Kerala High Court has directed the Kochi Corporation as well as the Public Works Department who are duty bound under law to make all necessary arrangements on the footpaths and the road so that differently abled people can have access to these footpaths and roads as per their own convenience.
"Differently abled people can also hold the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, like any other citizen of the Country holds", said the Court. The bench headed by Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly gave directions to the Corporation as well as PWD to work on the maintenance and repair and to make arrangements on the roads and footpaths through their respective control so that differently abled people can have easy access to them.
The order is passed regarding the PIL filed by Dr. PA Mary Anitha, the Chairperson of an NGO, Centre for Empowerment and Enrichment (CEFEE). She mentioned in her petition that poor conditions of the footpaths and roads are causing problems and difficulties for the differently abled people to use the roads and footpaths mainly due to the unscientific characteristic of constructions being made and the poor and periodic maintenance.
The High Court took reference of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994 and observed that the Corporation is bound with the duty to provide basic facilities and convenience to the public, that also includes the responsibility to maintain the footpaths and roads in a way to look out the needs of the disabled people.
The Court observed-
“ the State has a duty under the Directive Principle of the State Policy given under Part IV of the Constitution to give importance to a special order for W.P.(C) No. 24850/2018:13: to promote the welfare of the people, which also includes the special duty towards the differently abled people and therefore, it is the mandatory function of the State and the local bodies to do work for the benefits of the differently abled people also. Any failure on the part of the State Government or the concerned authority in the discharge of their duties will be seen as a serious and unforgiving delay which justifies the court to look into the matter and directs the authorities to take necessary steps. Now when the Part IXA of the Constitution of India was introduced, which deals with the Municipalities, the Municipalities are liable to perform such duties bestowed with them.”
The Court directed the Kochi Corporation and PWD to take all the necessary steps immediately and without any delay and should complete all the necessary work within three months.