State cannot be directed to treat the visually impaired on par with other disabled persons: Madras High Court

In a recent judgment the Madras High court has contended that it cannot be asked to direct the state to treat all visually impaired persons on par with the other disabled persons. The matter was between  Nethrodaya v. The State of Tamil Nadu and others (WP No 11065 of 2018) and was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. M. Duraiswamy (Acting Chief Justice) and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sunder Mohan.


A writ of Mandamus was filed under Article 226 to direct the state to increase the pension scheme of the visually impaired persons from 1000/- to 1500/- on par with the other differently abled persons. The Petitioner is an organization working for the welfare of the Differently Abled Community, which has taken initiatives to provide quality special education, healthcare and employment opportunities to the visually impaired communities in the State of Tamil Nadu. 

The visually impaired people have to go through hardships since the scheme is administered by the Social Welfare department, they have to obtain certificates for approval. However, the maintenance of differently abled are administered by the Differently Abled Department who are not put to any such hardships.

The State has explained that the maintenance stipend was only increased for people who were unable to find other job or public employment. These included people with intellectual impairments, those who were seriously ill, people who had muscular dystrophy, and people who had leprosy. According to Additional Advocate General S. Silambannan, these people cannot be compared to visually impaired Differently Abled People who are qualified for public work and other sorts of employment. The State also emphasized the many welfare programmes it had put in place for those with vision impairments.


The state observed that the visually impaired cannot be kept on par with the other differently abled persons. The court further stated that:

“It is also not in dispute that the Differently Abled Persons, who are visually impaired, are entitled to public employment and private employment as well. Therefore, the Differently Abled Visually Impaired Persons cannot be equated with Differently Abled Persons who are ineligible to get any employment on account of the sickness and infirmity suffered by them. The basis adopted by the Respondents to treat them differently cannot be faulted.”

The court decided that it could not order the State to administer a Scheme via a certain Department with regard to the request seeking to transfer the scheme from one department to another. 

The social welfare department, according to the NGO, was not operating equitably, and differently abled people who were visually impaired had to deal with a number of difficulties. In response, the State told the court that Revenue Divisional Officers would be created in each District to investigate the complaints of people with disabilities.

The court then gave the respondents instructions to make sure that the undertaking is strictly followed, that no hardship is put on people with disabilities in order for them to receive benefits under the Monthly Pension Scheme, and that no needless procedures are required.

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