Jeeja Ghosh & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors, on 12th May, 2016; Supreme Court of India: Case Brief – Read Judgement

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Rights of Disabled person: Court said such rights having roots in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 98 of 2012
Bench: Justice A. K. Sikri; Justice R. K. Agrawal

Case Brief: The present case is one of the landmark case on the issue of the rights of the ‘disabled persons’. Here, the petitioner- Ms. Jeeja Ghosh who is an Indian citizen with cerebral palsy filed the claim before the Apex Court of India, besides she is an eminent activist involved in disability rights. She is also one of the most famous personality, having prestigious status in her name. In the facts leading this writ petition, the petitioner was invited to an International Conference, North South Dialogue IV, in Goa, and it was hosted by ADAPT- Second Petition. Moreover, she was also invited as one of the 15 International individuals for reviewing an Indo- German project which was being show- cases at the conference. It was also informed that the second petitioner purchased return plane tickets for Ms. Jeeja Ghosh from the Respondent no. 3- SpiceJet Ltd. When Ms. Jeeja Ghosh sat on the flight, she was ordered to off the plane, even after she tearfully protested and informed the flight crew members that she needed to reach Goa for the conference. However, she later discovered that the Captain had insisted that she be removed due to her disability. As such, she claimed in her petition that the airlines crew members’ such behaviour is as outrageous as it is illegal. She also claimed that third Respondent’s staff clearly violated ‘Civil Aviation Requirements’ dated of 2008 with regard to ‘Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility’ issued by the second respondent- Directorate General of Civil Aviation authorized by Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. As such, she claimed some writs to be issued by this bench. This bench first considered some of the international covenants and instruments which are guaranteeing rights to persons with disabilities, and fulfilments of such rights is not only limited to the Government or Governmental agencies, but to the private entities also.

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The bench after considering the various arguments from the parties, decided that the petitioner- Jeeja Ghosh was not given appropriate, fair and caring treatment while she required with due sensitivity, and the manner in which she was de- boarded from the aircraft shows total lack of sensitivity on the part of the officials of the airlines. Moreover, this bench also observed that the rights granted in favour of the disabled persons are based on sound principle of human dignity which is the core value of human right and is treated as a significant facet of right to life and liberty and these can be treated as having its roots in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Moreover, this bench further saw that as respondent- airline acted in a callous manner, and in the process violated Rules, 1937 and CAR, 2008 guidelines resulting in the mental and physical suffering experienced by Petitioner, as such bench awarded Rs. 10 lakh as damages to her. Besides, such decision, the bench also ruled that the as per the Book- “No PITY” as authored by Joseph P. Shapiro, “Non disabled Americans do not understand disabled ones.” The Bench decided to remove the only error n the said sentence and re- wrote it as “Non disabled people do not understand disabled ones,” referring to the entire world.

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Read the Judgement: Jeeja Ghosh & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors

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