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Thalassemia patient made to run from pillar to post for disability certificate

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 13 - In a development that exposes the State government authorities� lack of concern for the differently-abled, Sabrina Begum, a young woman with thalassemia and a PhD scholar for 2017 under Tezpur Central University, has been made to run from pillar to post for securing a disability certificate that she needs urgently in connection with a fellowship programme.

This is despite the fact that the Gauhati High Court, after hearing her case presented by the Disability Law Unit North East (DLU-NE) of Shishu Sarathi on December 11, directed the Joint Director of Health Services, Kamrup (Metro), �to examine the petitioner and if she satisfies the required criteria, issue the certificate of disability, within a period of seven days from the date of appearance.�

The court also directed that �considering the peculiar case of the petitioner, UGC authorities at New Delhi shall accept the application of the petitioner for the aforesaid fellowship programme by extending the last date of 24.12.2018 by an additional 7(seven) days, i.e., till 31.12.2018.�

�Thalassemia being one of the specified disabilities under The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, she is eligible to be issued a Disability Certificate under the law,� Amvalika Senapati, deputy director, advocacy, Shishu Sarothi, told The Assam Tribune.

Surprisingly, when the petitioner who is without her parents and does not have any financial support except for a small institutional fellowship of Rs 8,000 per month, approached the Joint Directorate of Health Services, Kamrup (Metro) in person today, vide letter dated 12.12.2018 forwarding the certified copy of the aforesaid court for due compliance, the official informed her that he cannot direct any doctor to issue the disability certificate as doctors have not been trained on the �Assessment Guidelines� and they are not acquainted with the grading of percentage of disability.

�The petitioner cannot be made a victim of the non-feasance on the part of the State and she cannot be denied the rights envisaged under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD), 2016, solely due to the cavalier and lackadaisical attitude of the government in fulfilling its roles and responsibilities,� Senapati said.

It has been two years since the RPWD Act was passed and still, only around ten states have notified the respective State Rules under the Act - something that is tantamount to gross denial of rights of people with disabilities.

Senapati said that DLU-NE had earlier filed a representation before the Directorate of Health Services, requesting the authorities concerned to consider Sabrina�s case and issue the certificate on an urgent basis � based on her medical records or calling for a physical test to be conducted to establish the quantum of her disability.

�As no response was forthcoming, DLU then went on to file a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court on December 3, 2018, following which the court intervened on December 11,� she added.

On an earlier occasion also, Sabrina was unable to apply for the UGC National Fellowship for Persons with Disabilities (2012-2017) as she could not produce a disability certificate for no fault of hers.

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