The Delhi High Court has observed that deaf sport persons and para sport persons should be treated equally and neither category can be discriminated against the other.

The bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh made this observation while dealing with the plea seeking equal treatment of the deaf sports persons with other para-athletes along with other reliefs.

The petitioners, who are all renowned sport persons, raised the grievance that sport persons with hearing disabilities are not treated equal with other sports persons.

They highlighted that the cash awards and other schemes which are there for other sport persons does not apply in the same manner to persons with disabilities and for Para-Olympic sports.

Therefore the petitioners prayed for directions to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to frame proper policies in respect of deaf sports.

The Counsel appearing for the Petitioners submitted that there are certain issues that deserve consideration by the Government. The first being that in the category of deaf sports, ‘Deaf Asian Games’ is missing.

Secondly, he submits that the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) is already applicable to ‘para sport persons’ but it ought to be extended to deaf sports persons as well.

Thirdly, he submits that post-retirement benefits for deaf sports persons should be same as those which are matching to the Olympic games sport persons and para sport persons.

Advocate Ajay Verma appeared for petitioners whereas Advocate Virender Singh appeared for Union of India.

The Court observed that “The issuance of such schemes, awards, benefits, etc., is in the realm of policy of the Government. While in general there can be no doubt that persons with disabilities ought not to be discriminated, announcing of policies and schemes is again to be done by the Government and a specific benefit cannot be directed by the Court.”

The Court remarked that the specific issues highlighted by the Petitioners ought to be considered by the Centre, after taking an overall view of the matter.

Therefore the Court directed “…the present writ petition, along with all pending applications, is disposed with the direction that on the three issues raised above, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports would take a decision in a manner which is fair to persons suffering from speaking and hearing disabilities.

The Court also added that in the meantime, since there are certain tournaments which are going on, if any interim support is to be given, the same shall be considered within four weeks.

Cause Title- Virender Singh v. Union of India & Ors. with connected matters

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