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Doctor with disability forced to urinate in bottle at Madras HC
A wheel-chair bound doctor who accompanied his friend to the Madras High Court was on Tuesday forced to urinate in a water bottle as he failed to locate a disabled-friendly toilet in the court premises.
His friend Muruganantham L, a Public Interest Litigant on Disability Rights, said, “I was to go to court as my PIL was to be lifted. I had first-hand experience of how it feels when despite your case pending another important case is brought up. This time, I wanted to be careful and had informed them about booking Court No. 3 for the case. As the doctor, Vijaykumar, suffering from muscular dystrophy, has been fighting for the cause for 10 years, he accompanied me.”
He added, “Usually, you are given a pass only if your case is listed. In the case of PILs, anyone can enter. However, at three entry points, including one accessible point, Vijaykumar was denied entry. He was allowed through one point, which was not even accessible for people with disabilities. Besides, there are no signs that have been put up to make it clear which way is accessible for disabled persons, thus making things even more difficult for us.”
The doctor was also denied access through Court No. 1 path as only advocates are allowed access. “While persons with disabilities should be taken through a short distance, they denied him access,” he stated.
To make matters worse, following the court proceedings, when the duo searched for a toilet they could not find one. “Since there is no signage, we sought the help of someone present there who directed us to the common toilet, which we learnt was not accessible for persons on wheelchairs as the entrance was too narrow. Vijaykumar therefore had to urinate into a water bottle with the help of a handkerchief to hide himself,” he added.
“Even though it has been mandated that cases pertaining to persons with disabilities be given priority, as is evident in a reply Muruganantham received for an RTI he filed, and in the Supreme Court order regarding priority for listing the case of Persons with Disabilities, the Madras High Court is yet to take it seriously it seems,” said Vaishnavi Jayakumar, a Disability Rights’ Activist.
Even though an order was passed a few years ago mandating that all government offices have disabled friendly facilities, it continues to be lacking. “Most public offices lack disabled friendly facilities including restrooms and ramps. We have tried fighting for this cause for years, but when the High Court and lower courts themselves fail to comply, how can we expect other offices to do so?” opined P Saravanan, Secretary of the December Three Movement, an organisation that fights for the rights of persons with disabilities.
APATHY OR LACK OF AWARENESS?
The physician, Vijaykumar, was accompanying his friend who is a Public Interest Litigant on Disability Rights.
The doctor was also denied access through Court No 1 path as only advocates are allowed access.
Following the court proceedings, when the duo searched for a toilet they could not find one. Since the doctor could not use the common toilet, he used a water bottle to relieve himself.