Rights of persons with disabilities is not to be viewed from charity, medical or social perspective. [Jeeja Ghosh and Anr. V. Union of India and Ors.]

Jeeja Ghosh and Anr. V. Union of India and Ors.

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 98 OF 2012

Before the Supreme Court of India

Bench: A.K. Sikri, J.

Relevant Acts/ Statutes:

  • Constitution-Articles 14, 19, 21, 32
  • The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995
  • Civil Aviation Requirements’ 1st May, 2008 (CAR-2008)
  • Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937
  • United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities- Articles 5,9, 9(2)
  • Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties (1963)

Decided on: May 12th, 2016

Brief Facts:

  • Jeeja Ghosh is an Indian citizen, an eminent disability rights activist, and is suffering from cerebral palsy.
  • Ghosh was invited to an International Conference, North-South Dialogue IV, in Goa, from the 19th to the 23rd of February, 2012, hosted by ADAPT (Petitioner no. 2).
  • Ghosh was scheduled to fly on a seat on flight SG 803, operated by SpiceJet Ltd. (Respondent no. 3) scheduled to fly from Kolkata to Goa on the morning of 19th February 2012. The conference was to begin in the afternoon of the 19th February 2012.
  • After being seated on the flight, Ms Jeeja Ghosh was approached by members of the flight crew who requested to see her boarding pass, which she gave them. Then they proceeded to order her off the plane. Despite her tearful protestations and informing them that she needed to reach Goa for the conference, they insisted that she de-board. After returning to the airport and arguing with airlines officials, she later discovered that the Captain had insisted that she be removed due to her disability.
  • It is averred in the petition that as a result of the shock and trauma of this evenshe had trouble sleeping and eating, so she was taken to a doctor the following day where she was prescribed medication. Because of this, she was unable to fly to Goa on 20th February 2012, and, thus, missed the conference altogether. Not only did this humiliate and traumatise her, but it also deprived the conference organiser, ADAPT (petitioner no. 2) and all of the attendees of the opportunity to hear her thoughts and experiences, and prevented her from providing her analysis of the Indo-German project under review.

Issues:

  • Obligations of the airline companies under CAR-2008
  • Obligation of Government under PWD Act (1995) and UNCRPD
  • The constitutional guarantee of right to live with dignity.

Petitioners’ Arguments:

  • Such acts are in violation of the Petitioner’s Fundamental Right to life, to move freely across the country, and to practice trade and profession.
  • The Petitioners refuted the contentions of the respondent no. 3 and denied any kind of procedural negligence on the part of Ms Ghosh.
  • Airlines’ denial of carrying her was in violation of CAR-2008, and other relevant provisions of the PWD Act (1995) and UNCRPD.
  • It is the Government’s obligation to see that rights of persons with disabilities are being taken care of.

Respondents’ Arguments:

  • Respondent 2-DGCA: It was rather unusual, that a Governmental body itself came out in support of the present petition, so far it helps in implementation of the Guidelines prescribed.
  • Respondent 3-the Airlines: It was Ms Jeeja Ghosh who failed to disclose her disability at the time of booking of her flight tickets, and hence her disability was the cause, of her jeopardising the safety of other passengers onboard. (her health condition was injurious to other passengers)

Judgment:

  • The irresistible conclusion is that Ms Jeeja Ghosh was handled with a lack of insensitivity and that the airlines’ action of de-boarding her was illegal and insensitive.
  • Rights provided by the Act of 1995 are for upholding the human dignity and are in furtherance of the equal rights that persons with disabilities enjoy.
  • The Constitution of India under Part-III provides for rights based on human dignity. Violation of Article 21 of the Constitution would indeed violate the right to live with dignity.
  • Rights of persons with disabilities need to be viewed from a human rights perspective, rather than charity, medical or social models.
  • All the non-disabled persons should understand one fact that persons with disabilities have a right to live with dignity.

Ratio:

(This brief was prepared and submitted to LawBriefs.in by Maitreya Shah, Student at Gujarat National Law University.) 

 

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