|Case No.||Writ Petition No. 34188/2018 (PIL)||Date of Filing||04/08/2018||Status||Disposed||Petitioners||National Federation of the Blind (NFB)||Respondents||Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), State of Karnataka through the Department of Transport and State of Karnataka through the Department of Women and Child Development.|
This Public Interest Litigation was filed by the National Federation of the Blind (Petitioner) in the interest of persons with blindness, under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (“RPD Act”). The petition challenged Circular No. 469/2018 dated 06.06.2018 (“Impugned Circular”) issued by the Respondent No. 1, Bangalore Municipal Transport Corporation (“BMTC”), by which the facility of free bus passes for Vajra (Volvo) buses to persons with total blindness was withdrawn.
In 2009, the BMTC had issued a Corrigendum providing that all persons with locomotor disability and persons with total blindness holding a free blind pass to travel in various general, suburban and city buses in Karnataka could also travel in Vajra (Volvo) buses for free. However, in 2018, the BMTC issued the Impugned Circular, cancelling the facility of free bus passes for Vajra (Volvo) buses for persons with blindness.
The primary contention of the Petitioner was that withdrawal of the facility of free bus passes for the Vajra (Volvo) buses for persons with blindness was against Section 41 of the RPD Act by which the State is required to develop schemes and programmes to promote the personal mobility of persons with disabilities at affordable costs. Further, the Petitioners submitted that only the Vajra (Volvo) buses connected certain parts of Bangalore city that are otherwise unconnected by other general, suburban and city buses, thereby making it inconvenient and expensive for persons with blindness to travel to those destinations. The decision of the BMTC in withdrawing the facility of free bus passes to persons with blindness was therefore arbitrary and consequently, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and further, that the BMTC had created a legitimate expectation of providing free bus passes to persons with blindness. Significantly, in addition to seeking that the Impugned Circular be set aside, the Petitioner also sought that the benefit of free bus passes in all general, inter-city and suburban bus passes be extended to persons with at least 40% blindness or persons with benchmark disabilities.
The matter was taken up by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in August 2018. On considering the facts and the grounds raised by the Petitioner, the Hon’ble Court directed the BMTC to re-consider the Impugned Circular and restore the policy of granting free bus passes to persons with total blindness in all buses, including Vajra (Volvo) buses. Thereafter, in September 2018, the BMTC issued and filed with the Hon’ble Court, Corrigendum No. 469A/2018 to the Impugned Circular permitting the issuance of free bus passes in Vajra (Volvo) buses for persons with blindness. With regard to extending the benefit to all persons with at least 40% blindness, the Hon’ble Court directed the Petitioner to separately request the BMTC to consider the same.