The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy before whom the plea moved Vaishnavi Jayakumar, co-founder, The Banyan, came up and said “In view of the mandate of the statute, read with rules and the notification in accordance with the same, there may be little room to manoeuvre and little scope for the court to delay the implementation of the policy as reflected under the statue and laws made there under.” “The State seeks time to indicate a road map. However, it is necessary that the State be restrained from acquiring further buses for the public transport system,” the bench held while noting “In other words, the State will not acquire any new bus for use as part of the public transport systems unless such bus meets the standards indicated in the notification.
Advocate General R Shunmugasundram appearing for the State submitted to certain practical difficulties in finding resources in acquiring the more expensive buses but also to create the road infrastructure to host such sophisticated buses. He said a stay on the purchase of new buses will adversely affect the public at large.
Advocate A Yogeshwaran appearing for the petitioner argued that the Tamil Nadu Government order allowing just 10% of the new buses to be purchased was against the Statute, which envisages the whole fleet of the State public transport system be made universally accessible. Advocate T Mohan appearing as amicus in the case submitted that the transport corporation was yet to be convinced on the need to have a fleet that is accessible to all at all times The bench during the course of the hearing while acknowledging the aspect that the process also involved altering the road to accommodate low floor buses, also cited to an order of October 2020 this court was constrained to observe: “Though some of the WP pertaining to better facilities for persons with disabilities has been pending since 2005, nothing fruitful or worthwhile has been done to address the genuine grievances or day to day problems faced by those who are otherwise disabled.”