Calcutta High Court directed the State Government to provide a wheelchair to a person with disability and stated its the State’s liability to look after look after citizens who are not able to look after themselves.

In Palash Das Vs. The State of West Bengal and others,the Calcutta High Court invoked the  doctrine of parens patriae to safeguard the rights of a person with disability. 

Parens patriae is a Latin term that translates to “parent of the country” in English. It refers to the legal concept or doctrine that allows the government or State to act as a parent for individuals who are unable to care for themselves or make legal decisions, particularly minors, persons with physical and mental disabilities, or other vulnerable individuals. The State intervenes to protect the rights and interests of those who cannot do so for themselves, ensuring their well-being and safeguarding their rights. This doctrine grants the government certain powers and responsibilities to act in the best interest of those under its protection.

Arguments: The Petitioner has 100% disability, incapable of carrying out day-to-day activities due to ‘Posttraumatic Paraplegia’. The Petitioner’s counsel argued that the state has taken a palpably nonchalant attitude in abstaining from hearing the matter. In the last order, the Respondents were directed to file a report indicating as to the possibility and current state of implementation of any scheme intended for economic rehabilitation for adult people with disabilities. However, no report has been filed yet.

On August 13th, 2023, the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, West Bengal, had written to the District Magistrate and Additional Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, to provide benefits of a ‘Scheme for Economic Rehabilitation for the Adult Persons with Disabilities, 2011’. The District Magistrate was also directed to give a wheelchair under the Prosthetic Aids and Appliances Scheme for the smooth mobility of the petitioner. A proposal was given for allocating some space/shop infrastructure near RIC Bazar Post Office, Baranagar, for the Petitioner to start some business.

Decision: The court observed that the recommendations of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities were absolutely legitimate and valid. The State cannot shirk its responsibility as parens patriae, having liability and responsibility to look after citizens who are not able to look after themselves for some reason or the other beyond their own control.The Respondent was directed to implement the communication immediately by providing a wheelchair, even though the scheme is not available anymore, and allocating space/shop infrastructure to the Petitioner at the cost of the State. The entire exercise shall be concluded within two months of this order.

– By Lakshita Bhati and Deeksha Rai

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