Deaf Employees Welfare Association v Union of India
Civil Petition 107 of 2011, decided on December 12, 2013.
This petition was filed seeking a Writ of Mandamus directing the Central and state governments to grant equal transport allowance to its government employees suffering from hearing impairment as what was being given to blind and other disabled government employees. The allowance given to the hearing impaired employees was significantly lower than the allowance granted to other employees with disabilities.
The Supreme Court allowed the petition and directed the Respondents to grant transport allowance to speech and hearing impaired persons also on par with blind and orthopaedically disabled government employees. The court held that “there cannot be further discrimination between a person with disability of ‘blindness’ and a person with disability of ‘hearing impairment’. Such discrimination has not been envisaged under the Disabilities Act.” It held that equality of law and equal protection of law afforded to all persons with disabilities while participating in government functions. The court held that the dignity of persons with hearing impairments must be protected by the state. Even the assumption that a hearing or speech impaired person is suffering less than a blind person is, in effect, marginalizing them; and as such, the same benefits must be given to them, as are awarded to blind citizens. Any move made by the state to further this objective is in consonance with the principles enshrined in Articles 14. This case held that deaf and mute people should also be given transportation allowances on par with blind and orthopedically handicapped employees of the government.