Consumer Commission Holds Cinema Complex and District Collector Liable for Lack of Disabled AccessIn a recent development, the Thiruvallur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum presided over by S.M. Latha Maheswari (President) and P. Murugan (Member), issued an order mandating Gokulam Cinemas to compensate the complainant who was a disabled. The cinema was instructed to pay a sum of...
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Consumer Commission Holds Cinema Complex and District Collector Liable for Lack of Disabled Access
In a recent development, the Thiruvallur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum presided over by S.M. Latha Maheswari (President) and P. Murugan (Member), issued an order mandating Gokulam Cinemas to compensate the complainant who was a disabled.
The cinema was instructed to pay a sum of ₹1 lakh as compensation. This decision was made due to Gokulam Cinemas’ failure to provide elevators and ramps, a violation of the Disability Act of 2006.
Additionally, the Bench has directed the District Collector of Tiruvallur to take appropriate measures against Gokulam Cinemas in response to this non-compliance.
S. Sureshkumar, a resident of Kundrathur, Tamil Nadu, who has a 60 per cent locomotor disability, visited Gokulam Cinemas in Poonamallee in May 2022 to watch the Tamil movie Nenjukku Neethi. However, upon arriving at the cinema, he was confronted with a significant accessibility challenge. The screening was located on the second floor of the complex, and to his disappointment, there were no elevators or ramps provided to assist individuals with disabilities in accessing the facility.
The complainant alleged that Gokulam Cinemas had breached the Disability Act of 2006 by failing to include essential accessibility features in their newly constructed cinema complex. He further contended that the District Collector was also culpable for issuing a license to the cinema hall without conducting a thorough inspection.
Gokulam Cinemas contested the complainant’s allegations, asserting that he was not present on their premises on the specified date to watch the movie. They accused the complainant of trying to mislead the Commission by presenting a movie ticket that may have been borrowed from someone else.
Furthermore, Gokulam Cinemas argued that the installation of elevators had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented them from completing the necessary accessibility upgrades.
On the contrary, the District Collector asserted that there was no specific cause of action against him as stated in the complaint. He argued that the complainant had not clearly articulated how he, as the District Collector, had committed any deficiency in service or negligence. The District Collector requested the dismissal of the complaint filed against him, contending that there was no direct legal relationship between the complainant and his office concerning the issue in question.
The District Commission delivered a verdict in favour of the complainant, finding both Gokulam Cinemas and the District Collector jointly liable for negligence and a deficiency in service.
The District Commission pointed out that the complainant’s 60 per cent locomotor disability was substantiated by his Disability Certificate and Disability Pass Book. The absence of elevators or ramps in the cinema complex, despite the requirements of the Disability Act of 2006, constituted a clear violation of the law.
The District Commission observed that in accordance with Article 41 of the Constitution of India, states are obligated to enact measures to safeguard the rights of individuals with disabilities, including ensuring access to public spaces. Additionally, the Commission referenced Chapter 8 of the Disability Act of 2006, which mandates the inclusion of accessibility features in buildings and facilities to accommodate persons with disabilities.
In its verdict, the District Commission mandated that Gokulam Cinemas provide ₹1 lakh as compensation to the complainant for the mental anguish and hardship he experienced as a consequence of the absence of accessibility features within the cinema complex. Furthermore, Gokulam Cinemas was directed to cover ₹10,000 in the complainant’s litigation costs. The District Collector received instructions to initiate necessary actions against Gokulam Cinemas within four weeks from the date of receiving the order, due to its non-compliance with established rules and regulations.