Giving legal rights7 to disabled is no charity: SC

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (UNI) The Supreme Court has asked society to be more sensitive and considerate towards the disabled and held that giving them their legal rights is not charity.

A Bench comprising Justices G P Mathur and Aftab Alam while directing Punjab State Electricity Board to reinstate Bhagwandas, a lineman who became blind while in service, with full back wages, noted '' We understand that the officers concerned were acting in what they believed to be the best interest of the Board.

Under the old mindset, it would appear to them just not right that the Board should stand good money on someone who was no longer of any use but they were quite wrong, seeing from any angle.

From the narrow point of view, the officers were duty bound to follow the law and it was not open to them to allow their bias to defeat the lawful rights of the disabled employee.

From the larger point of view, the officers failed to realise that the disabled too are equal citizens of the country and have as much share in its resources as any other citizen.

The denial of their rights would not only be unjust and unfair to them and their families but would create larger and graver problems for the society at large. What the law permits to them is no charity or largesse but their rights as equal citizens of the country.'' Justice Aftab Alam, writing the 14-page judgement for the Bench, also imposed a cost of Rs 500 on the Board and directed the reinstatement of Bhagwandas within six weeks with all back wages and benefits.

Bhagwandas had joined the Board in July 19, 1977 and was made a lineman on June 16, 1981. He lost his sight on January 17, 1994.

A disabled person is protected and safeguarded, if he acquires disability during his service, by section 47 of Persons with Disability (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995 UNI AKS/SC AKJ RP DS1602

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