Friday, October 31, 2014

DGCA fails to respond to Disability Discrimination Notice from Court of CCPD

Dear Friends,

Our colleague Dr. Satendra Singh was invited to speak at the International Conference on Evidence in Global Disability and Health’ jointly organised by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Public Health Foundation of India at Hyderabad in Feb 2014. While returning, he was shocked by the lack of empathy of the security staff at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

He harassed at the Hyderabad International airport by security officials who insisted that Mr. Singh removed his orthosis for security check.  Incidentally, Dr. Satendra Singh, who teaches at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, has post-polio residual paralysis and uses a knee-foot-ankle-orthosis (KFAO) also called a caliper or brace, for support to allow independent mobility.
Dr. Satendra Singh, Disability Activist

He told the security officials that it is difficult for him to take off his orthosis during travel and again put it back. He expressed solidarity with the security requirements and requested the security officials (CISF staff) to screen him with ETD (Explosives Trace Detector Test) or do a manual frisking but they were hell bent on removal of the orthosis only.

It may pertinent to mention that the Security SOPs (standing operating procedures) by BCAS clearly state that removal of prosthesis is not necessary.  After, Dr. Singh, a medical doctor himself,  did not budge, knowing his rights very well, the security officials had no option but to organise the ETD scanning and he could take his flight back. 

On March 10, Dr. Singh had complained to Mr. Arvind Ranjan, Director General, CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security), the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)  and the Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD).

CISF considering the sensitivities of the issue, organised a workshop on 'soft skills' for handling disabled passengers on 30 March 2014 where it was invited Dr. Singh to share his views on frisking of people with disabilities. Top CISF and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) officials were also present at the session. Post the workshop, the BCAS has issued a revised SOP which is up on its website.

However, the DGCA & Ministry of Civil Aviation did not respond to even the notices issued by the Court of CCPD despite lapse of 30 days time which indicated the callousness shown by them on the subject of dignity during travel for persons with disabilities. 

Speaking to reduced mobility rights, Dr. Singh said, "I have submitted my rejoinder requesting Court to make sure both DGCA and BCAS amend their rustic screening rules, modify guidelines taking UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into consideration."

We hope with the change in guard at the centre, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, things will fall into place and the lackadaisical attitude will be shunned by the Ministry and it will ensure that no such incident ever happens with any person with disability.

The matter is pending adjudication in the court of CCPD. More updates once the court passes its final order/ judgement!

Media Coverage on the issue

The Enablist (Blog)/ Times of India:   Airlines can't refuse to fly differently abled 

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