The Supreme Court has issued notice in a plea by a disability rights activist seeking directions to provide sign language interpreters during the press briefings by Ministers.
A bench comprising Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Vikram Nath has issued the direction in PIL filed seeking directions to have in-frame Sign language interpreter in all the official press briefings conducted by the Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Union Government, Chief Ministers of all the States and other Ministers of the State Government, in accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
The Petitioner M Karoagam, is herself a visually impaired woman advocate practicing at the High Court of Madras, was represented through Advocate Nupur Kumar, Advocate Prabhakaran, and Advocate Balamuki S.
According to the petitioner, access to sign language is the basic human right of the deaf people and is also the key to breaking down communication barriers and participating in society just like anyone else.
The petition has stated that the 2016 Act unequivocally prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, which includes failing to provide meaningful access to public benefits, programs, or services.
Further, it has been argued that Section 42 of the 2016 Act, in particular provides, that it is the duty of the appropriate government including the Union and/or the State Government to provide facilities including sign language interpreters for persons with hearing and speech impaired to make information and communication accessible to this section of people.
The petitioner has pointed out that even after guidelines from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to provide sign language interpreter once daily in news channels, many news channels fail to follow the said guidelines in letter and spirit.
According to the petitioner, with no sign language interpreters several thousands of hearing and speech impaired are denied an opportunity to understand on a real time basis any communications from the Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu, especially about the pandemic, its safety measures, lockdown guidelines etc.
It has been argued that they are also being denied the opportunity to access information, analysis, and update themselves of the many developments that takes place in the State.
Case Title: M Karoagam vs Union of India & Ors