SWABHIMAN LEGAL CELL is a wing of SWABHIMAN to stop discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. Disabled people face massive discrimination and exclusion. For example, if they are of working age, they are twice as likely as non-disabled people to be out of work and disabled people are twice as likely to have no qualifications.
Legal Advocacy Unit of Swabhiman was established to facilitate the realization and protection of rights of persons with disabilities. It was a step to confront the increase in abuse and discrimination of PWDs. The legal Unit deals with cases of physical abuse, Sexual abuse, psychological and emotional abuse and all forms of discrimination including cases of neglect and denial of property rights.
3% Reservation in Educational Institution
The Supreme Court has issued a verdict that all Government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the Government shall reserve not less then 3% seats for persons with disability as per section 39 of PWD ACT, 1995. Based on the newspaper report of the New Indian Express dated 12 September 2002 Swabhiman initiated the letter campaign on 3% reservation of seats in educational instituions for the disabled.
Swabhiman's conscientious lobbying bore fruit with health department issuing an order to all medical and allied colleges, either government or aided, which mandates a 3% reservation for the applicants who are physically challenged. A complaint from a physically challenged student who had been denied a seat in government homeopathy college set the ball rolling. Scrutinising the prospectus we found it flouted the PWD Act 1995 which clearly directs a 3% reservation in all educationl institutions. We wrote letters, not receiving replies, re-wrote, and wrote again. Sent copies of the Act, Supreme Court judgement and all allied information. Met the principal, then director health services, then director indian medicine and finally secretary. Refer to New Indian Express, Page 4, dated 22/02/2003.
Passing of Rights of Persons With Disability Bill
Political advocacy is a programme unit of Swabhiman that works towards influencing political establishments and State bureaucrats to respond to concerns and issues that affects Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). We target political and legislative institutions, individuals in authority, political leaders, civil society organizations and communities (PWDs).
United Voices for Disability Equity I
Held on 21st February, 2010 (Sunday) at VRC, Bhubaneswar it had 220 participants from 21 districts from across disabilities, across organizations and across networks. The participants were persons with disabilities, their family members, organization who joined hands today to demand setting up of a disability commission in Orissa. Unanimously the house agreed on the following three demands-
- Independent office of State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD).
- Office of the SCPD outside the premises of Secretariat with barrier free access.
- A person with disability/parent as SCPD.
It was decided jointly that government would be given time till the end of the coming assembly session to set up the commission. Alongside, a DHARANA would be given during assembly session to keep reminding the elected representatives about our demand. 200 persons with disabilities/family members/NGO representatives will sit day in and out for all the days assembly would be in session, and thus more than 2000 persons will participate from all corners of Orissa. If this failed 10 lakhs PWDs will come out on the streets in a DO or DIE strategy.
Appointment of State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.
United Voices for Disability Equity II
Held on 21st March 2012, Wednesday, in OAB Conference Hall, Bhubaneswar (Besides Big Bazar), 100 persons with disabilities, family members, disability activists, human rights workers, teachers, heads of special schools, therapists, counsellors, IEV Volunteers, ASHA Karmis, ICDS Karmi, BRC, and volunteers from across Orissa converged to discuss and debate to present a memorandum to the state government for the 'SETTING UP OF A DEPARTMENT FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITES.'
Bargarh, Balasore, Bhadrak, Boudh, Bolangir, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsugda, Jagatsinghpur Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Kendrapada, Khurda, Koraput, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Puri, Rayagada, Sundergarh and Sonpur found representation with persons from all disabilities and networks (OSDN, ODPN, OVM, SUVI, Parents Association etc.).
Setting up of Directorate of Disability.
Sri Pranab Prakash das was appointed as Minister of disability (Additional charge).
This advocacy wing pursues matters submitted by individuals with disabilities who have been aggrieved. We take up these matters and seek their redress either with the administrations, institutions, families or whatever the source of grievance is.
Some significant achievements have been made in this regard as indicated in the following cases:
Students having special needs should be provided special provisions in Educational system. This case is of Ms. Priyambada Sahoo a speech and hearing-impaired girl student, D/o: Mr. Harihar Sahoo of Gandhinagar, Jatni who had applied for Bachelors Degree in Fine Art (B.F.A.) course in B. K. College of Art & Craft, Bhubaneswar and Govt. College of Art & Craft, Khalikote, Ganjam. But both the colleges rejected her application form on the ground of over age. Speech and hearing impaired children need extra years of nursery schooling as preparatory phase for mainstream schools.
Ms. Sahoo approached Swabhiman, we immediately sent a letter to the Principal of the College asking to reconsider the application in light of the provisions of PWD Act of 1995. A copy of the letter was marked to Commissioner cum Secretary W& CD and Disability, the Vice Chancellor, Utkal University and the Superintendent of VRC. The Swabhiman team sent letter to the Director Dept. of Culture and contacted the Director and the Secretary of the Department for many times. Finally the case was filed with the State Human Rights Commission. All these lobbying led to frantic discussions and matter finally reached the concerned minister. Finally the minister directed both B. K. college of Fine Arts and Culture and the University to allow an age relaxation of 5 years and a 3% reservation for disabled people from this academic session.
Mr Laximidaar Sahoo
Mr.Sahoo a Visually Challenged postgraduate student of Ravenshaw College and formally a newspaper vendor, was falsely implicated by the police on superficial charges and a warrant was issued against him. He lived in seclusion and in fear. He sought assistance from many, but no one came to his rescue. In confidence and hope he approached the Legal Cell seeking an immediate action to resolve the crisis that had haunted him for long. The Legal Cell intervened and managed to obtain a bail order that enabled him to resume his normal life
Mr Nabin Mohanty
It was celebration and jubilation for Mr. Nabin Mohanty, an orthopedically challenged government servant, on receiving a pro motion letter from his higher authorities. He was eligible for promotion from a junior assistant to the post of senior assistant since last nine years. His attempts to secure his promotion was often met with ridicule and indifference by senior officers and he remained tormented for years. Finally his efforts and Legal Cell support compelled authorities to approve his promotion. After an arduous one year intervention by Legal Cell the battle was won.
Swabhiman initiates discussions with government functionaries and departments to seek justice on issues affecting persons with disabilities. Many individuals approach us seeking help to make their grievances heard by respective departments of government. We use letters and face-to-face discussions with these departments and several cases have been resolved and significant changes have come forth.