Supreme Court Calls for SOP to Ensure Airport Access for Persons with Disabilities

Supreme Court emphasizes need for effective SOP for airport access by persons with disabilities after wheelchair-bound passenger faces screening issues.

The Supreme Court emphasized the necessity of implementing an effective standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure seamless access to airports for persons with disabilities. Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud presided over a bench that heard a plea from a wheelchair-bound woman who encountered difficulties at Kolkata airport on January 30.

During the proceedings, the bench addressed Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, representing the Centre, expressing concern over the practice of asking wheelchair-bound passengers to stand up for screening. Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, also part of the bench, echoed the need for a robust SOP to address this issue. The bench scheduled further hearings for April 19 to deliberate on the matter.

In a previous hearing on February 26, the apex court announced its intention to direct the Centre and other relevant authorities, including the Airports Authority of India, to formulate an SOP ensuring hassle-free access for persons with disabilities at airports.

The counsel representing the petitioner, a resident of Gurugram, highlighted the absence of female security personnel and support staff at airports, particularly for assisting wheelchair-bound passengers. The court noted that airport security services are predominantly managed by two agencies: the Central Industrial Security Force and the state police.