NEW DELHI: The Centre came in for some stinging criticism from the Supreme Court for the second day in a row on Thursday, with a CJI-headed bench pulling it up for doing precious little to make government buildings disabled-friendly. The SC had slammed the Modi government on Wednesday for delaying the process for selection of Lokpal members.
On both days, the bench of CJI T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao criticised the Centre after distinguishing it from the previous UPA regime. Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi bore the brunt on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was solicitor general Ranjit Kumar who repeatedly apologised for the delay in convening a meeting of the Central Coordination Committee that takes stock of work to make government buildings disabled-friendly across the country.
The SC asked: “No meeting has taken place for the last two years? The file remained pending with the minister for two years? What was he doing? Who is this minister?” The SG attempted to dilute the lapse by saying the meeting did not take place for four years, two of which were in UPA’s time. Refusing to buy the argument, the bench said: “Previous government is okay, this government is different.” This forced the SG to divulge that the file was pending with minister Thaawarchand Gehlot.
The SC referred to the NDA government’s document detailing launch of Accessible India Campaign on December 5, 2015. It had promised to conduct accessibility audit of at least 50 important government buildings and make them fully accessible by July 2016 in many state capitals. The SG confessed it had not happened but said the work was under progress. He also confessed that after the court sought the presence of the secretary in charge of the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, the meeting of the CCC was called on November 29.
The SC asked: “What is the agenda of this meeting?” When the SG gave a stock reply that it was to review the work done, the bench said: “Is it a panchayat meeting? The meeting would not have happened if we had not asked details.”
Questioning the approach of the Modi government, the bench said: “We are wondering whether the new government had asked each department what work they are doing and what is their vision for the next five years.”
Later, accepting the SG’s apologies, the bench said it would expect the government to file a status report on the outcome of the November 29 meeting of the coordination committee.
Credits ET Realty