Showing posts with label Polling Booths inaccessible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Polling Booths inaccessible. Show all posts

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Delhi: Most polling booths not disabled-friendly

New Delhi, 12 March 2014

People with disabilities might face serious difficulties while casting their vote in the upcoming general elections as a number of polling booths across the Capital neither have accessible washrooms nor reserved parking, an RTI application has revealed.

 A 2007 Supreme Court judgment ruled that special facilities need to be put in place to make polling booths more accessible for persons with disabilities.

 Not to speak of sign language interpreter, some of the polling booth organisers even replied that they could not entertain people with mental or psychosocial disability as there is no such provision in law, said RTI activist Satendra Singh, a doctor at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, Delhi.

 Also, there is no record of the number of disabled voters in India or Delhi and no information on complaints and action taken on violations of the Supreme Court's order to provide facilities in polling booths for disabled voters.

 While replying to the RTI query of Dr Singh, two assembly constituencies (ACs) 2 and 16 said there were no arrangements for washrooms at all for disabled voters. Ten ACs replied there were arrangements of washrooms but these too were found to be inaccessible for such voters when cross checked by Dr Singh, who himself is a person with disability.

 "None of the washrooms are accessible for wheel chair users. Even hospitals lack accessible toilets," said Dr Singh.

 He said since the majority of the venues (polling booths) are schools and colleges, they rarely have ramps, forget about toilets with changes. Only two ACs had accessible washrooms.

 "The RTI info gathered from 70 assembly constituencies (ACs). Since the same will be used for the seven parliamentary constituencies (PCs) in next month’s general elections, it becomes of paramount importance to highlight the violations of 2007 Supreme Court judgment and inadequacies of CEO Delhi in protecting electoral rights of persons with disabilities," said Dr Singh.

 More than five ACs have no reserved parking for disabled electors despite having enough space, while four ACs said there were no provision for extra queues for such voters.

 When asked whether people with mental or psychosocial disability are allowed to vote, six ACs replied in the negative. Besides, two of the ACs, gave identical answers ~ "Since person with mental disability cannot be an elector, the question of voting does not arise.”

 Dr Singh, however, said, in the eyes of the law, every person (including mentally ill, mentally challenged, medically ill, hospitalised, incarcerated) over the age of 18 is fully competent unless it is declared otherwise by a court of law.

 "If a person's name is in the voter list s/he can vote irrespective of whether s/he suffers from a mental illness or not. Only if a court of law declares a person incompetent then the exclusion applies," said Dr Singh.
 Chandni Chowk, which is a VIP PC, replied that all facilities have been provided.

 Dr Singh termed the situation as alarming for the Election Commission of India (EC) and Delhi State Election Commission (DSEC), as the elections for the 16th Lok Sabha are just four weeks away.

Source: The Statesman Mr. Chandan Prakash Singh (