Release of SC accessibility committee’s report historic event: CJI Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Monday said the release of a report of the “Supreme Court Committee on Accessibility”, which was formed to conduct an audit of the physical and functional access to the apex court premises, was a “historic event”.

In December last year, the committee headed by apex court judge S Ravindra Bhat was given a broad mandate to prepare and release a questionnaire for persons with disabilities, including the apex court employees, advocates, litigants and interns who visit the top court premises, to assess the nature and extent of the problems they face.

Releasing the report, the CJI said the committee’s purpose was to make the Supreme Court accessible to all. “This is a historic occasion in the annals of the Supreme Court,” Justice Chandrachud said.

He said specialised sub-committees were formed which focused on several aspects regarding the differently-abled and elderly, including the challenges faced by women during pregnancy and special court procedures for HIV-positive people.

“The report also focused on women and took the opinion of the employees into account. All findings on physical disability and access were laid out in the report,” the CJI said.

“I do hope that apart from the work we will do to implement this, it will act as a model for the high courts and other establishments,” he said.

Justice Bhat said the members of the committee had reached out to the widest section of the society to remove the barriers to access.

In a bid to remove the barriers to access, the CJI formed the committee headed by Justice Bhat last year to conduct an audit of the “physical and functional access” to the top court premises.

According to a notice uploaded earlier on the apex court’s website, the committee was tasked with preparing a report on the accessibility audit, the result of the survey of persons with disability and recommendations or proposals geared towards removing the barriers to access.

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“The Chief Justice of India has been pleased to constitute a committee, namely the ‘Supreme Court Committee on Accessibility’, to conduct accessibility audit of physical as well as functional access to the Supreme Court chaired by Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Judge, Supreme Court of India,” the notice issued on December 19 last year had said.

It had said the other members of the committee included Sanjay Jain, professor of the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, Shakti Mishra, a librarian nominated by the apex court, V Sridhar Reddy, an advocate nominated by the Supreme Court Bar Association, and Nilesh Singit, an independent accessibility expert nominated by the Centre for Disability Studies (NALSAR University of Law).

Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court Ajay Agrawal was the member (secretary) of the committee.

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