HC directs Maha govt to check if schools, colleges provide barrier-free access to disabled students

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government and the Directorate of Education to call for compliance reports from all educational institutes and universities in the state on facilities provided to disabled students.
In an order passed earlier this week, a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni said the state must inform the court whether or not all educational institutes across Maharashtra were providing barrier-free access in their buildings to disabled students and staff members.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Pune resident Akanksha Kale.
In her plea filed through advocate Satyavrat Joshi, Kale sought that all educational institutes provide barrier-free access and other facilities to disabled students and staff, as mandated in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act.

Kale, who is confined to a wheelchair, had first approached the high court in 2016 against a Pune college after she was unable to attend classes and appear for her exams as the institute did not have disabled-friendly infrastructure.

At that time, another bench of the high court had passed necessary directions to the college concerned, and also directed the state to ensure that all schools and colleges extend appropriate facilities to the disabled.

However, Kale approached the high court again earlier this year, saying that despite provisions of the act and the high court order, not all educational institutes had complied with the requirements.

The Mumbai University’s counsel, advocate Rui Rodrigues, informed the court that there already existed statutory rules mandating that professional colleges, such as medical and engineering institutes, provide barrier-free environment in their buildings.
The professional institutes that did not comply were denied completion and occupation certificates for their buildings, Rodrigues said.
The high court, however, observed that such a requirement must be made mandatory for all educational institutes and not just those providing professional courses.

“The state and the Directorate of Education shall issue instructions to all universities to call for compliance report from all the educational institutions,” the bench said.
“In case any institute already has the occupation certificate but does not provide the mandatory facilities, then the authorities should take necessary steps for creating basic facilities such as ramps, washrooms and barrier-free access for handicapped people in such buildings,” it said.
The high court has sought a report from the state on the compliance reports from educational institutes by August 2.


Bombey High court asks Devendra Fadnavis govt is Minor in tribal belt getting nutritious food.

A division bench of Justices N H Patil and G S Kulkarni of Bombey High court has sought to know from the Maharastra BJP government to know from the Maharashtra government  regarding the distributes nutritious food to children and lactating mothers living in the tribal belt of the state. The court  raised the question earlier this week while hearing a bulk of PILs highlighting increase of graph in malnutrition deaths and illnesses among the population living in the Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas across the Maharashtra.

Different benches of the high court have passed several orders on the issue over the last two years, directing the government to ensure that people in the tribal areas get adequate nutritious food, proper health care, sanitation and education facilities.

The court took the chart on record and asked government about its planning and policies  to know what needful exercise being taken to provide food to children and lactating mothers.

On July 17, the government submitted before the HC a chart indicating the number of health camps held in Melghat, Amravati district, to address the issue of malnutrition.The chart also shows about the government  strategy to take appropriate steps for the children, new born, and women so as to provide them medical aid.

“The government pleader shall take instructions as to whether the departments concerned of the state machinery distribute nutritious food to children and lactating mothers,” the court said.

The bench posted the petitions for further hearing on August 1.

The Higher court also instructed government to keep checking and put a close watch on the departments of the state machinery distribute nutritious food to children and lactating mothers.



HC: Cops fail to inform rape victims about option of abortion

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court today once again said that police must inform the victims in such cases that they have the option of undergoing abortion, allowing a 16-year-old rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy.

A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni granted permission to the girl to undergo an abortion, after a panel of doctors suggested that it would be safe for her.
The victim, who is 21 weeks pregnant, moved the court earlier this week after her request for the termination of pregnancy was rejected by two government hospitals.

Doctors at the government-run KEM hospital asked her to approach the high court, as an abortion beyond 20 weeks is illegal, except under certain circumstances.

The judges noted that the girl lost five to six days in running from one hospital to another.

“Often (rape) victims and their families do not know that they have the option of medically terminating a pregnancy up to 20 weeks. The state must tell police officers to not waste any time when they are dealing with such victims,” the court said.
“The police must inform them that they have this option and can visit a hospital,” the bench said.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, termination of pregnancy is not allowed beyond 20 weeks, unless its continuation poses a threat to the mother’s life.
During the arguments, advocate Meenaz Kakalia, the victim’s lawyer, had said the girl wanted to undergo abortion as the pregnancy was the result of a rape.
Continuing with the pregnancy would cause her much mental anguish, and being a minor, she must not be forced to give birth, the lawyer argued.
The high court then directed a panel of doctors to examine the girl. After the medical report said that despite the advanced stage of pregnancy, abortion would not pose danger to her life, the court granted the girl’s plea.

In the past, the court has stated in several similar cases that police must apprise rape victims of the option of abortion before it is too late.

HC directed Maha govt to probe reason behind crime against children

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to probe the reasons behind crimes and why juveniles were increasingly taking to criminal activities, lamenting the rampant incidents of crime against children.

A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni said the state must take preventive steps to minimise incidents involving juveniles as well as crime against children.

“There was a recent news report of an eight-month-old girl being sexually assaulted. The degree of degradation of one’s way of thinking is such that even an eight-month-old is not spared,” the bench said.
“Why does this happen in a society like ours that has such a rich culture and heritage?” the bench asked.
It also said that schools across the country must compulsorily impart lessons on ethics and morality to students.
“These are the first lessons we need to learn as humans. Science and technology comes after this,” the bench said.

The observations came after the bench was informed by the state government that it had constituted a Special Task Force (STF) to probe crime against children and ensure time-bound trial in such matters.

The bench said while the STF was a good initiative, it was imperative that the state study the reasons of a spike in such crimes.

“Some sort of social and psychological study needs to be done to come up with the reasons. This will allow the police to take preventive steps. We need to understand why children are being increasingly targeted, and also why more and more juveniles are participating in activities that are against the law,” the bench said.

The bench was hearing a suo moto (court taking cognisance of an issue on its own) Public Interest Litigation on constructing child-friendly courts across Maharashtra.
Appearing for the state, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the bench that he had spoken to the authorities at Delhi High Court which has a child-friendly court in its premises.

“We have decided to take Delhi as a model, and construct such court rooms across the courts in the state,” Kumbhakoni said.
In February this year, the apex court had requested chief justices of all high courts to “seriously consider” establishing child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district.
The Bombay HC then took suo moto cognisance of the issue and began hearing the PIL.

Maha govt to Bombay HC: Formulating stringent law to regulate pvt hospitals

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court today that it was in the process of formulating a stringent law, on the lines of the Centre’s Clinical Establishments Act, to regulate private nursing homes and hospitals in the state.

Appearing for the state, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the court that the draft plan for such law was already in place, and the government was in the process of finalising some amendments to it.

“Some doctors and other members of the medical community had some objections and suggestions. A committee was formed to consider these objections and suggestions, and to amend the draft plan accordingly. The committee will finalise the draft plan in about three weeks, after which it will be ready to be placed before the state assembly,” Kumbhakoni said.

The submissions were made before a bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni which was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Pune resident Atul Bhosale.

In the PIL it was claimed that several nursing homes and hospitals in the state were operating in violation of rules and without valid licenses.

During random inspections conducted by state authorities of private nursing homes and hospitals across Maharashtra in the past one year, around 6,000 were found to be operating without valid licenses, and in violation of various other provisions of the Maharashtra Nursing Homes Regulation Act 2006.

The advocate general told the court that the state had taken action, such as sealing of nursing homes and even sending some doctors and staff to judicial custody, in the case of around 3,000 such nursing homes and hospitals.

The bench however, told the AG to submit details of the action taken against each of the nursing homes or hospitals that was found violating the state and the Centre’s norms.

“The remaining 3,000 odd establishments that were found by the inspections to be erring still continue to operate. That can’t be permitted. The health and lives of citizens can’t be compromised with,” the bench said.

“One requires various permits and a license to even start a small shop,” the bench said.

According to the plea, currently, under the Maharashtra Nursing Homes Regulation Act 2006, if found running a nursing home illegally, one has to pay a fine of up to Rs 10,000.

The Union government’s Clinical Establishments Act has more stringent provisions, including criminal prosecution under the IPC for those running such establishments, and a fine of Rs 25,000.

The bench accepted the state’s submission that on the next date of hearing, scheduled after two weeks from now, it will submit greater details of the draft plan and of the action taken against the illegal nursing homes under the existing 2006 Act.

Pratt and Whitney snag: DGCA assures Bombay High Court of precautions in the wake of certain A320 neo planes.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today told the Bombay High Court that it was taking all necessary precautions in the wake of certain A320 neo planes, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, being grounded due to engine failures.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mumbai resident Harish Agarwal, a division bench of Justices N H Patil and G S Kulkarni noted the air safety was of utmost importance.

The bench also said the Union government and the DGCA are duty-bound to ensure that full safety measures are taken.

The petitioner had sought appropriate directions to Cvil Aviation authorities over the recent reports that certain A320 neo planes fitted with Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines are more susceptible to engine failures.

In an affidavit filed today, the DGCA said PW engines are safe and airworthy.

“Even if there are problems in the pre-450 series of the PW engines, that does not mean that the aircraft is unsafe or not air worthy. Timely inspection and maintenance would ensure that the engines do not develop any snag,” it said.

The bench said if DGCA experts felt that all measures have been taken then the petition could be disposed of, and posted the matter for hearing on April 16.

“At the end, air safety is of utmost importance. It is everyone’s concern. Take full safety measures to ensure this,” said Justice Patil.

The petitioner had claimed that the European Air Safety Authority (EASA) had issued an airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number, in February this year.

As per the directive, PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of serial numbers — 449, and 450 and beyond, it stated.

EASA ruled that engines having the serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems, it said.

“The agency stated that across the world, all A320 neo aircraft with both engines having 450 or beyond serial numbers, should be grounded, while those with only one 450 and beyond could continue to fly,” as per the petition.

As planes of Indigo and GoAir were grounded due to PW snag, the HC, during the last hearing, had directed them to clear their stand before it.

Senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Indigo Airlines, today told the high court that out of the nine Indigo aircraft grounded, engines of six aircraft have been replaced and they are now flying. “Only three remain grounded,” he said.

GoAir counsel Venkatesh Dhond told the court that out of the three aircraft grounded, engines of two aircrafts have been replaced.

Petitioner’s lawyer Aniruddha Deo, however, told the HC that damage to the said PW engines was caused internally and not externally.

Bombay High Court asks Maharashtra government to develop a plan for shelter homes

The Bombay High Court has said it is time the Maharashtra government develops a model plan for constant governance and supervision of shelter homes for children in the state.

The court also said that the government could also consult social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muuruganantham for supply of sanitary pads for girls staying in these homes.

A division bench of Justices N H Patil and G S Kulkarni was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city resident, Sangeeta Punekar, raising the issue of poor condition of a children’s shelter home in suburban Mankhurd.

The court said prima facie, the Mankhurd shelter home’s condition was not up to the mark.

“There is a need for constant governance, supervision and special care so as to maintain the condition of the shelter home. It is time the government comes up with a model plan which can then be emulated in all other shelter homes in the state,” Justice Patil said in an order on March 27.

The bench pointed out that the staff vacancies need to be filled immediately, the existing staff should be paid salaries on time, and the CCTVs should be in working condition and maintained regularly.

There should be regular medical check-ups of the children at the shelter home, and a proper supply of medicines and sanitary napkins, the court said.

“The issue of supply of medicines and sanitary napkins can be resolved within a day. There are so many NGOs working towards this. Why can’t the state government contact these NGOs?” Justice Patil asked.

The court also said that the government could consult Muruganantham, the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine.

Government pleader Purnima Kantharia assured the court that the government was looking into the issue seriously and that all necessary steps would be taken.

The bench then posted the petition for hearing on April 20, and asked the government to file a compliance report by then.

Assure safety of P&W engines: Bombay High Court to DGCA

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to list the steps being taken since 2007 to check the airworthiness of all Pratt & Whitney 1100 engines that power Airbus A320 New Engine Option (Neo) planes.

A Division Bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Harish Agrawal, a businessman from Juhu.

The plea stated that A320 Neo aircraft fitted with P&W engines, manufactured by an American company, are malfunctioning and no action has been taken by DGCA against Indigo and Go Air Airlines who continue to fly such aircraft.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for the A320 Neo on February 9, 2018. According to directive, an investigation was carried out to find out the cause of several occurrences of engine in-flight shut-down and rejected take-off in the Airbus A320 Neo aeroplanes.

PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of numbers: 449, and 450 and beyond. In February, EASA ruled that engines having serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems and those with only one 450 and beyond engine could continue to fly.

Advocate Advait Sethna, appearing for DGCA, said aircraft with even one 450 and beyond PW1100 engine were being grounded and seven IndiGo and two GoAir airplanes with one or both engines belonging to the specific serial number and had also been grounded.

The court said merely grounding some aircraft or following the directive of the EASA against the use of P&W 1100 engines belonging to the 450 and beyond series, was not enough.

The Bench said, “Your [DGCA] duty does not end merely at grounding some flights, but ensure that the people of India feel safe.”

Mr. Sethna also said that the DGCA has received a certification from P&W that all pre-450 series engines met safety standards. The court said, “Are you merely relying upon the directive and certification issued by the EASA, or, have you conducted your own study to ensure that all engines, even those that have not been flagged by the EASA, are absolutely safe?”

The bench also said it was the duty of the Union government and the DGCA to ensure that all aircraft were safe for travel and passengers were assured of their safety. The court went on to say, “All steps being taken to ensure that the flagged engines are not being used and that air travel was perfectly safe must be widely publicised and suggested a window should be opened to address all queries of the passengers and pacify their fears.”

PIL seeks ban on govt ads, HC asks State to explain

vvvThe Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra Government to file a reply to a PIL, which seeks to ban government advertisements in print and electronic media ahead of the forthcoming state Assembly polls.

Hearing the PIL, a bench of justices Abhay Oka and G S Kulkarni on Wednesday asked the state to file a reply by August 27.

The judges also asked the state to inform about its total budget on advertisements and also explain its policy on the issue.

The PIL, filed by former MLA Bapusaheb Mane, alleged that the state was spending a lot of money on advertisements of government projects, many of which are either incomplete or pending.

The petition alleged that the government had spent Rs 229 crore and Rs 50 crore on print and electronic media respectively. Lawyer Uday Warunjikar argued that the State should be restrained from issuing further advertisements as elections were round the corner.

Projects are left incomplete mainly due to financial constraints and spending money on advertisements further drains out the government funds, the lawyer argued.

Warunjikar also sought to know the rationale behind spending money on advertisements when the government was finding it difficult even to pay salaries to its staff.

Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani said the state government had a policy to issue advertisements to the media to inform them about the state-sponsored schemes and projects. If government schemes are not made known to the people they would remain only on paper and would not reach the masses.

The matter has been posted for hearing on August 27.

(Source: PTI)