Visually Impaired Lawyer Moves SC For Making Judiciary Disabled-Friendly
The lawyer also said that the website of courts, case files and relevant legal documents should be made disabled-friendly.
New Delhi, Jul 25
A blind lawyer today moved the Supreme Court seeking to make judiciary disabled-friendly, especially for visually impaired people, saying the creation of accessible infrastructure and support system for lawyers with disabilities was imperative to create a level playing field.
A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan while agreeing to hear the matter issued a notice to the Registrar General of all the high courts and the Secretary-General of the apex court in an interlocutory application filed by lawyer Rahul Bajaj.
The court sought a reply from the parties within four weeks.
During a brief hearing, Bajaj said that the website of courts, case files and relevant legal documents should be made disabled friendly.
In his application, Bajaj said that the obligation to create a level playing field was a natural corollary of the right to equality guaranteed to blind lawyers under the Constitution.
“The creation of accessible infrastructure and appropriate support system in the judiciary for lawyers with disabilities is imperative in order to create a level playing field. This obligation is a natural corollary of the right to equality guaranteed to blind lawyers under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and the right to practise a profession of one’s choice under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India,” he said.
The lawyer, who is blind from birth, argued for himself and sought directions from the court to enable visually-challenged lawyers to access case files and records in a seamless and timely fashion.
He also sought access to court websites and legal material used by lawyers during the course of making written submissions or oral arguments.
“It is stated and submitted that the principal means by which blind people, like the applicant (Bajaj), acquire information is by using talking software, called text-to-speech software or screen readers.
“A text-to-speech software essentially speaks aloud the text that is given on a computer screen in a human-like voice. Such a software converts textual information into auditory form and enables blind people to independently use a computer and navigate the Internet, read books and perform allied functions,” he said.
In his plea, Bajaj also sought to appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer in all high courts within a time-bound manner.
“Such an officer should be provided appropriate sensitisation about the manner in which a lawyer with disability functions and the challenges and obstacles that they commonly face,” he said.