A petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre to ensure all government websites were made Guidelines for Indian Government Websites compliant, incorporating website quality certification content (WQS) accessibility within a time-frame.
As many as 63 websites of various Union ministries and departments have already been issued with WQC and the remaining 14 ministries and departments are still awaiting it, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) G Rajagopalan told the Second Bench of the High Court recently.
The ASG made the submission before the bench of justices Vineet Kothari and C V Karthikeyan when the Public Interest Litigation petition from A Syed Ansari, a visually-impaired lawyer, came up for hearing.
The petitioner, among other things, contended the authorities ought to have seen that Chapter VIII of the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act mandated the non-discrimination and the removal of barriers.
Any failure to ensure that the websites are barrier free is a breach of the duty under the Act, he submitted.
They should have noted that Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandated the elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility to information and communications, including technologies and system, he said.
When the matter came up, the bench directed the ASG to obtain instructions with regard to the other 14 websites of public bodies like the UPSC, municipal corporations, etc, as to how they can also be upgraded on the same lines to be user-friendly for the disabled, for whose benefit the PIL has been filed.
The bench also impleaded the Secretary of State Department of Information and Technology as a party-respondent.
The counsel for the Madras High Court Registrar submitted the High Court is already in the list of the certified institutions having upgraded its website to be user-friendly for the physically-challenged.
The matter will come up for hearing on March 13.