New Delhi, Feb. 18: The Supreme Court has ordered all states and Union Territories to formulate a scheme for the visually-handicapped to uphold their right to health.
The court referred to a report in The Telegraph on May 21, 1995, on the appaling conditions of the visually-impaired in a Delhi blind school.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Justices S.B. Sinha and A.R. Lakshmanan has ruled that all governments should draw up a scheme for “the compulsory periodic medical examination and treatment of all the blind students who are inmates of the various blind schools”.
“A news item appeared in a leading newspaper of the country as regards refusal of the management of certain blind schools in the capital to send their inmates for check-up and medical treatment offered free of cost by the Harsha Vardhan Motiwala Memorial Charitable Trust,” the judges said.
They added that “the allegation was that the concerned schools developed vested interest in keeping the students blind so as to appropriate funds received from the Union of India”.
The judges said the schools which did not adhere to the scheme of compulsory medical treatment and periodical check-up of its blind students would not be entitled to any grant. It expanded the scheme first formulated for the Delhi blinds schools to the entire country through a directive to all states and Union Territories.
Earlier, the apex court had issued notices to the health secretaries of all states and Union Territories.
In the judgment, the court said in the earlier scheme prepared for Delhi, “in place of Delhi administration, wherever occurred in the scheme, the words ‘state government’ shall be inserted”. This meant that the scheme would automatically be applicable to all states.
The apex court iterated the right to health and treatment of the handicapped while ordering that a copy of the judgment be sent to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories for compliance and introduction of the scheme of periodic and regular medical check-ups.
The apex court said no state or Union Territory had opposed the scheme for periodic medical check-ups.
Allegations were levelled that even normal eye problems which are curable were not referred to doctors to ensure that the students continued to remain in the schools.