The Madras High Court has directed the state government to devise a program in consultation with expert bodies to make tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu accessible for disabled persons.

The bench of Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice J. Sathya Narayana Prasad observed that "…this court is of the opinion that accessible tourism is integral for equal participation of persons with disabilities in recreation and cultural life, like the other persons."

The Court has also directed to prepare and publish a travel guide of disability-friendly and accessible tourist destinations.

Petitioner-K.R.Raja had approached the High Court seeking directions to ensure easy accessibility of all the tourism places in Tamil Nadu for person with disability in accordance with Chapter V, Section 29 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

According to the petitioner, he is a physically challenged person and he could walk only with the help of two auxiliary crutches.

One day, he got a chance to visit Coutrallam in Tirunelveli District, where his friends had enjoyed in the water falls after therapeutic body massage with herbal oil. His body muscle required such a therapeutic oil bath in the water falls to get relief from discomfort caused by using crutches, but owing to his disablement, he was unable to access.

The said incident prompted the petitioner to file this petition.

Advocate R.Alagumani appeared for the petitioner whereas Government Pleader P. Thilak Kumar appeared for the State.

The Court observed that accessibility, effective participation and inclusion in the society are few of the rights for empowerment of persons with disabilities and the same have to be ensured to them, by the Government and local authorities as per law.

"…the ideals of equality, dignity, worth and non-discrimination along with the principles of reasonable accommodation inspire the constitutional bulwark for enforcement of equality before the law, equal protection of law as well as equality of status and opportunity to the disabled.", the Court noted.

Thus the Court directed that "…this court directs the Government to devise a programme in consultation withexpert bodies, which includes persons with disabilities, to make tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu accessible for the disabled in accordance with the standards of accessibility as formulated under section 40 of the RPwD Act and other applicable guidelines; and prepare and publish a travel guide of disability-friendly and accessible tourist destinations."

Cause Title- K.R.Raja v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors

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