Monday, April 25, 2016

Delhi Traffic Police: 'How can you drive if you are disabled'?

‘How can you drive if you are disabled’
Bindu Shajan Perappadan, THE HINDU, 24 April 2016

Singled out:Disability rights activist Dr. Satendra Singh shows how he operates his specially-modified special arrangement

Unaware volunteers, traffic cops pose odd questions to differently-abled drivers during odd-even:

If you are disabled, how can you drive? The question left me stumped, says disability rights activist and physician Dr. Satendra Singh, who along with several other differently-abled persons have complained about the ignorance of the civil defence volunteers and the Traffic Police when it comes to the rights of the disabled during the on-going odd-even scheme.

“Despite being exempted from the drive for being under the disabled category I continue to face harassment by constables at Delhi-UP borders. I have been stopped and questioned three times at the same place over the past two days. I have been asked, How can I even drive with my disability,” said Dr. Singh.

Recalling his ordeal, Dr. Singh said: “I am a doctor with a disability, who drives modified car with hand control. Earlier this week I was stopped by a couple of civil defence volunteers. I told them that I drive a modified car and that I am a person with disability. I also told them that I am under the exempted category. After a few minutes I drove out only to be stopped again with the same set of questions thrown at me. Currently there is no obvious way to identify a disabled driver in a car. Disabled persons in the vehicle are being stopped.”

The physician said that the Delhi government should consider issuing disability certificates with stickers showing the International Symbol of Access to indicate that the vehicle is being driven by a person with disability.

“This will also help us in the perennial problem we face during parking. Delhi Metros are considered disabled-friendly but they are not since none of the stations have 'reserved parking' for the disabled,” he added.

Meanwhile, others in the city, who faced a similar situation, said that it is embarrassing to face such harassment in the Capital.

Activist and head of department in a government medical college, Dr. Dinesh Puri says he was stopped earlier this week by a traffic cop who was completely unaware of the rules and regulations.

“It is not a joke to work with cops who are not aware of the rules. We don’t need sympathy or contempt. There is a larger issue here which needs to be addressed to ensure that harassment is eliminated,” he said.

R.K. Arora, from a Central government ministry, said there is no reason why a miniscule population should be harassed during the drive.

“Education is easy. We cannot be humiliated because the volunteers and cops are ignorant about the rules.”

Many suggest stickers to identify a car driven by a differently-abled individual

Source: The Hindu, 24 April


Traffic cops harass people with disabilities in Odd Even phase

Disabled complain of harassment by traffic cops

Rumu Banerjee | TIMES OF INDIA | Apr 22, 2016

NEW DELHI: Several differently-abled people have complained about harassment by the traffic police during the odd-even drive. Dipankur Goyal, for one, alleged that he was challaned Rs 2,000 even after he showed the cops a certificate proving that he was 100% visually impaired.

As per the Delhi government notification, a vehicle driven or occupied by a differently abled person is exempt from the rule. Goyal told TOI, "I tried to explain my disability and even showed the certificate to the cop. But no one would listen to me."

Goyal's is not an isolated case, though. Satendra Singh, a doctor who drives a modified car, claimed he was stopped several times in the past few days. Singh was a bit luckier than Goyal in the sense that the cops understood his disability and didn't challan him. "I have been stopped at various points. Every time, I have had to explain that my car is modified for the disabled and show them the caliper as proof."

Not every disability is easily visible or can be explained away, though. Goyal said he was challaned as the cops said his driver was at the wheel and would thus be liable for the challan. "But I can't go around without a driver. And that's why the government exemption is for disabled people who occupy a car. But most cops and volunteers don't understand the rules," said Goyal.

Singh, who is also a disabled rights activist, said he had come across several similar complaints.
"Disabled people are being stopped. Already, traffic police and volunteers are overburdened and this is neither their fault nor ours," said Singh. According to him, a way to getting around the problem is creating better awareness of rules among the ground staff and also issuing an identifiable sticker to the disabled people

Source: Times of India, 22 April


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Maruti is certainly not for car aspirants with disability

Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) has come up with a unique way to discriminate drivers with disability. The Government of India gives the people with disabilities there legitimate right to avail excise duty concession on the purchase of a new car but MSIL has a problem with that. They want excuses to deny this and they have come up with a unique way of discrimination. They will not grant this concession to customers with right leg disability.

Discriminatory Guidelines by Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL)

The Guidelines by MSIL for booking and purchasing a new car is given at this link. The salient points are summarised below

Despite the clear cut guidelines by the Central Government, often the customers with disabilities are harassed. This is in part due to lack of awareness, confusion of excise duty waiver with road tax exemption and discrimination by manufacturers. Take for example the case of biggest manufacturer in India -MSIL. They provide the excise duty concession only to customers with left leg disability which is discriminatory.The Government guidelines no where mentions between right and leg disability. This is the creation of MSIL only and they were slammed by High Court of Rajasthan on the same issue in the Vijay Raj Khariwal vs Union of India & Ors. CW Case No. 2697 of 2005. The readers can read the judgement and decide on there own. Same thing happened with Dr Satendra Singh from Delhi which was prominently highlighted by the Times of India.

For availing manufacturer certificate, MSIL insists on submitting photograph 'showing' the disability. Why? Why do they want to see the photo of an amputee female above thigh when she has a medical certificate already. This is also infringement of right to privacy as well as violation of Disability Amendment Rules 2009. Dr Satendra Singh has already written to both Deputy GM, CRM, MSIL as well as Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries on this. One can read the letters here. Incidentally, it was Dr Singh only who challenged similar discriminatory proforma asking for photo 'showing' disability from UPSC and IIT JEE aspirants. Both had to withdraw these after his petition with Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

So MSIL is a detective agency. They do not believe the medical certificate issued by a doctor from a Govt hospital. They also do not believe in the disability certificate issued to the person by a medical board constituted in Govt hospital. They want to see the 'photo showing disability' and recheck by there doctor. Is the minimal excise duty concession being given from there pocket? Who gave them this ridiculous authority?

This further proves, why MSIL is hell bent on harassing disabled persons. Look at the extra document they need which are nowhere mentioned in the Govt circulars. This is the response of the top manufacturer in India. After publication of the story in TOI, Dr Singh got a call from a reader Dr Girish Gupta that same thing happened with him for one month when he wanted to get the exemption on Ciaz. After getting frustrated he switched to Hyundai's Creta and got all these excise duty concession in just a day. So this is deliberate attempt on part of MSIL to harass people with disabilities. Shame on them!


Maruti Suzuki's discrimination against customers with disabilities

Only left is right: Why disabled drivers miss discount trip
Manash Pratim Gohain | TIMES OF INDIA |Apr 4, 2016

New Delhi: It is clearly about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, only it involves the two legs rather than the hands in the case of Dr Satendra Singh. For a month now, the teacher at the University College of Medical Sciences in the capital has been struggling with a peculiar problem, the resolution of which could help many others like him beat red tape. Singh is in the market for a car, but having a right leg that is polio-affected is not helping him much despite the central government actually offering excise duty concessions to buyers with special needs such as him. The confounding thing in his case is his right limb—the car company he has approached insists that the tax leniency is allowed only in the case of a disabled left leg.

In January, having set his eyes on the hatchback Baleno, Singh approached Maruti Suzuki's Nexa showroom, first in Noida, then at Akshardham, where he was told that the excise duty concession was not applicable to him because it was meant only for drivers with a left-leg disability. He argued that the central government guidelines on the matter did not differentiate between right and left leg disabilities. He also pointed out that he held a driving licence for the "invalid carriage" category of vehicles, which enabled him to drive his current car, a Maruti Alto.

However, a customer relationship manager of Maruti informed Singh that the company's automatic transmission vehicles "can be used by the physically disabled customers with left leg disability only". A Maruti spokesperson also said that the burden of verification and certifying the details of buyers with disabilities lay with the car manufacturer. In his case, Maruti informed Singh that it could not discount the price payable under the disability provisions.

"If you are left leg-disabled person, then for the purpose of buying an automatic transmission vehicle, you are as good as non-disabled," remonstrated Singh. Irked by a month of trying to convince the unmoved car company, Singh has now directly approached the government.

Seeking a quick resolution to his problem, Singh's letter to the secretary of the ministry of heavy industries, said that "the decision by Maruti Suzuki India Limited to exclude customers with right leg disability is discriminatory to say the least". He, therefore, requested the ministry to instruct car makers to allow people with lower limb disabilities to avail the benefits provided under the law "without any riders".

Singh pointed out that car companies, including Maruti, earlier sold cars that had been modified for use by people with orthopaedic difficulties. Such cars were termed "invalid carriages". In 2008, in the C. Paulraj vs The Secretary, Ministry of Transport and others case in Madras High Court, Justice D Hariparanthaman had noted, "If the mobility of physically challenged persons is curtailed, it would result in perpetuating inequality and the object of the Persons With Disabilities Act 1995 would be defeated." The judge, therefore, ruled that the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 did not prohibit any person, including physically challenged persons, from converting motor vehicles into "invalid carriages".

The same year, Justice P K Misra of the same court, hearing R Ramaswamy's petition against the Secretary, Ministry of Transport and others, expanded the meaning of "invalid carriage" to mean not only factory modified cars, but also those adapted for use by disabled drives at private workshops.

"No major car maker now manufactures invalid carriages in India, so people with disabilities have to get the fabrication done through local mechanics and fabricators," said Singh.

If the ministry responds favourably to Singh's petition, then it will certainly bring at least this version of a right versus left face-off to a satisfactory conclusion.

Reference: TIMES OF INDIA 4th April 2016


Excise duty concession to persons with disabilities

The first part of this series will cover how customers with disabilities can avail the excise duty concession on the purchase of new vehicle. Majority of the disability sector is unaware of these guidelines and many a times they are being misled by the manufacturers as well as Govt officials. This post is to shed clarity on the guidelines.

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has allowed a concessional rate of excise duty of 8% as against the applicable rate of 16% and 24% (a) on cars being able to be driven by the physically disabled; or (b)on cars which has been suitably designed to be able to be driven by physically disabled; or (c) on cars meant for physically disabled.

The Department of Heavy Industry has framed guidelines for issue of such certificates. As per the guidelines, the applicants are required to submit the following three documents, in original in the prescribed format.

(a) A medical certificate from the Medical Officer of a Government Hospital, as per the prescribed proforma.

(b) A certificate from the manufacturer of a passenger car to the effect that a booking has been made with them and that the passenger car to be delivered to the disabled person has specifically been designed or fitted with special control devices or gadgets, depending upon the type of disability of the person, such as auto transmission, grip assembly, accelerator pedals, hand control, etc. fitted in the depending upon whether the disability is in right/left arm or in both legs or in combination.

(c) An affidavit by the applicant, that he had not availed of this concession in the last 5 years and that he will not dispose of the cars with excise duty concession after purchase for a period of 5 years.

The necessary format can be downloaded from this link: Guidelines for availing excise duty concession.

The application fulfilling above three criteria needs to be sent to Under Secretary (AEI Section), Department of Heavy Industry (DHI), Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi. You may see the record of previous certificates issued at the website of Department of Heavy Industries here.

You can also see all of these and other important links on this one stop portal here:
Excise duty concession to persons with disabilities