The Bombay High Court on Wednesday rebuked the Maharashtra government for leaving defunct the state advisory board for disabled persons for the last four years, reported PTI.

A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar directed the state to fill vacancies in the board and make it functional within a month.

“We notice with grave concern that till date the vacancies in the said board have not been filled up,” the bench said, reported Live Law. “The board in terms of the mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, discharges certain vital functions not only in the realm of policy-making but also in coordinating the activities of various departments in the state dealing with matters related to persons with disability.”

The bench also said the board is tasked with taking up causes of persons with disabilities and also recommending facilities for them. In view of these functions, the board assumes significance, it said.

“However the apathy shown by the state in filling up the vacancies in the board cannot be appreciated," said the bench.

The court said it was alarming that the state needed a court’s direction to fulfil its statutory duties.

The state government was asked to inform the High Court about the time frame to fill the vacancies and make the board functional.

Abhay Patki, appearing for the state, told the court that the board will be made functional in 15 days.

“We will give you some more time than 15 days,” the court said. “For god's sake, do it by then. We direct that the advisory board shall be constituted and made functional within a month from today.”

The High Court was hearing a public interest litigation on the issue of bollards put in footpaths in Mumbai, making them inaccessible for persons with disabilities.

The court said that if the board for persons with disabilities was functional, then the court would not be burdened with taking up matters related to the welfare of persons with disabilities.

“We could have relegated this matter also to the board,” the court said. “It could have taken all measures.”

In 2023, the state government informed the court that it had constituted the advisory board.

"What is the use of merely constituting a board when it is not functional?,” the High Court asked on Wednesday. “We hope and expect that within 30 days the board shall be made functional in all respects."

The matter was posted for next hearing on August 14.