My name is Sai Padma. I am a law graduate and a disability rights activist and I run an NGO for the persons with disabilities by name Global AID (Ability In Disability). I am a physically challenge person by polio, and a wheelchair user. I am an aspirant in Junior Civil Judges Screening test conducted on 26-6-2011 by High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The exam was conducted in the premises of Dr.Lankapalli Bullayya College, Visakhapatnam.
I applied to JCJ screening test on the basis of Physically Challenged quota reserved for Orthopedically Handicapped Persons, and duly submitted my application along with my disability certificate. My husband Mr. Pragnanand went to the venue a day before the date of examination and was told that High Court of AP is conducting the exam so they will look after the seating arrangement.
We went to the exam hall on 26-6-2011 at sharp 9Am. But much to our dismay, no ground floor seating was provided to me. I was allotted seat in Room No.521 (First floor) in Block-V. I became upset and subsequently tensed at the situation. Despite explaining my physical condition (including surgery for scoliosis) and humble request from my husband, they refused to consider allotting seat in the ground floor in the opposite blocks (Block-II or Block-III). Instead they offered people to carry me on the wheelchair. We agreed as there was no other option.
A total of five people carried me, who are untrained in handling the wheelchair. They, with the help of my husband, lifted the wheelchair, on to the 10 steps at the entrance of the block and several to reach the first floor. It’s entirely a painful and stressful experience for me, who was operated for spinal cord.
In exam hall, I was allotted corner seat and I had to write my exam in wheelchair clutching a writing pad which I carried with me. After finishing the exam, I came to know that another candidate, also a person with disability using walker faced the same situation like me.
I wished to meet the High Court Justice who happened to be monitoring the examination and appraise of the problems faced by persons with disabilities. After finishing the exam me and my husband approached the room in which he was present (same floor where I appeared for the exam) and waited outside for about 15 minutes for seeking permission to meet him. We were stopped by many people asking what work I have with him. We explained them patiently, but finally a lean person (bearded) came outside the room came and said, Hon’ble Justice is busy and can’t spare time.
We got really frustrated and said we intended to take the matter to the next level. Then from inside, a District Judge of Visakhapatnam came and said a simple sorry and inconvenience regretted and stated that seating allotment was made in Hyderabad and they have no say & can’t help
Again, I have faced the ordeal of being carried by 5 to 6 untrained persons, who almost tumbled while lifting the wheelchair and landed the wheelchair like sudden drop onto the ground that caused the extreme pain in my right shoulder and back bone.
Dear friends… here I am not finding fault with few individuals. But our judiciary system and country consists of 1 billion disabled persons and their basic access needs have to be considered when we talk about equal opportunities.
If the judiciary system cannot make accessible arrangements for persons with disabilities, not sensitive for their own members (Advocates) accessibility to profession, if there is no systems and procedures to address our problems and follow, this is serious concern to all. If judiciary system itself do not pay attention in the arrangement related to a simple seating allotment, and if the person who monitors does not have the power to take decision on re-allotment and lastly few minutes to hear to the person who faced the trouble, I have to just express: what more can, we, the persons with disabilities, expect from Judicial system meant to do justice under the Constitution.
I am hopeful that learned disabled community and other professionals will support our move to make Judiciary System accessible first to make our voice hear.
Global AID is trying address this issue further, to save many like us, Please give your valuable suggestions/feedback on this!
If any one have similar kind of story, share with me. Let’s be human enough to help ourselves.
Sai Padma- 905 262 7070