Hearing-impaired seeks driving licence; HC gives notice to Govt

A bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah, hearing the petitioner's plea, issued notices to the respondents, including Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Maharashtra Government, Transport Commissioner and RTO, Pune. The notices are returnable on November 28.

The petitioner, a cleaner with Sasoon hospital in Pune, challenged the constitutional validity of section 8(4) of Motor Vehicles Act on the basis of which his request for a driving licence was rejected by the RTO on August 28.

The impugned section of the Act says that if a person who has applied for a learner's driving licence is suffering from a disease or disability which might put public or vehicles in danger, the RTO may reject such application and refuse to issue the licence. According to the petitioner, Amit Tribhuvan, this section discriminates against the disabled, specially hearing impaired people, because such persons are being denied an opportunity of being considered for a learner's driving licence. He further argued that a central government expert committee, set up under the Persons with Disabilities Act, had recognised the ability of hearing impaired persons to drive avehicle.

The committee also recommended that auto and motorcycle rickshaw drivers can be considered for government jobs. The petitioner argued that his right to freedom and right to employment had been hindered by RTO's decision to deny him a learner's licence. This action is discriminatory towards disabled and therefore ultravires the 'Right to Equality' and 'Right to Life' guaranteed by the constitution.

Government Pleader S S Shinde argued that if licences were to be issued to the persons with permanent hearing impairment they would be source of danger to public and vehicular traffic. The transport office had followed the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act in refusing to issue learner's driving licence to the petitioner, he said. 

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