Grant driving licence to hearing-impaired persons: HC to govt

"We are obliged to certify that if an applicant is totally deaf, he has to be called for the test if he applies for a learner's licence without medical certificate and if he passes the test as required under the rule, then he shall be granted the learner's licence as that is the statutory requirement," said a division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna.

"Similarly if a person is totally deaf but satisfies the necessary criteria, he shall be allowed to obtain the (permanent) driving licence," the bench added. The Motor Vehicle Act currently prohibits hearing-impaired persons from driving on the ground that they may pose danger to others.

The bench gave its ruling on a public interest litigation by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) seeking the court's direction to quash the requirement of ‘no hearing impairment’ stipulation for issuing a driving licence under the Motor Vehicle Act.

The NAD in its petition had contended that the deaf are allowed to drive all over the world except in 26 countries, including India, as Indian vehicles lack gadgets that vehicles in other countries are equipped with to aid hearing-impaired persons in driving.

The court, however, declined to direct the Centre to label deaf persons as "special category" persons in the act and issue directions for fitting vehicles with special gadgets for deaf to avoid accident saying the legislature is empowered to make such provision in the law.

"We are not inclined to direct that the special conditions which are permitted by other countries for grant of licence to the persons who are completely deaf as the same, we are disposed to think, is in the domain of the legislature. The legislature understands the prevalent conditions in a set-up where separation of power is an inseparable facet of the basic structure of the Constitution of India," the bench said.

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