For God's sake, make state advisory board for disabled persons functional in 1 month: HC

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Mumbai, Jul 11 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government to make the state advisory board for policies related to disabled persons functional within a month.

"For God's sake, do it by then," the HC said.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar said it was alarming that the state government requires directives from the court to fulfil its statutory obligations.

The state government should not wait for orders from court to implement laws, especially reformative ones, it said.

The government constituted the board under provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2018, but it has been non-functional since 2020 as posts of the non-official members are vacant.

The HC bench on Wednesday asked the government to inform a time frame by when vacancies would be filled and the board would be made functional.

Additional government pleader Abhay Patki on Thursday said the board would be made functional in 15 days.

"We will give you some more time than 15 days. For God's sake, do it by then. We direct that the advisory board shall be constituted and made functional within a month from today," the HC said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation taken up suo motu (on its own) on the issue of bollards put up on footpaths in Mumbai, thus making them inaccessible to persons with disabilities.

The bench noted that if the state advisory board was functional, then courts would not be burdened with matters pertaining to the welfare of persons with disabilities.

"We could have relegated this matter also to the board. It could have taken all measures," the court said.

The state government should not wait for orders from court to implement laws, especially reformative ones, it said.

"Can there be anything more alarming that for an Act the court has to issue directions. This is your (government) obligation. For this also you need directions?" CJ Upadhyaya asked.

In July 2023, the Maharashtra government informed the Supreme Court, which was hearing a matter related to disabled persons, that the state advisory board was constituted, the bench noted.

It is true that the board was set up in 2018 but it is non-functional since 2020 due to vacancies, the court said.

"What is the use of merely constituting a board when it is not functional? We hope and expect that within 30 days the board shall be made functional in all respects," the HC said posting the matter for further hearing on August 14. PTI SP GK