Kathmandu, February 26
A case has been filed at the Supreme Court demanding annulment of a provision of the country’s mountaineering expedition regulation that bars double amputees and blind persons from attempting to scale mountains, including Mt Everest.
Filing a writ petition at the apex court today, Madhav Prasad Chamlagain, who also represents persons with disabilities in the central executive board of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, challenged the government’s recent move to insert a sub-clause in the revised mountaineering expedition regulation imposing a ban on double amputees and blind persons from obtaining permit for climbing peaks.
The petitioner also sought the Supreme Court’s immediate intervention in the issue, arguing that the specific clause of the revised regulation violated human rights as granted by the constitution as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Chamlagain said that he was fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities which comprises around 15 per cent of the world population.
According to him, the Supreme Court will hear the case before the constitutional bench on March 7.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, to which Nepal is a party, says that States Parties recognise that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
“States Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.”
The petitioner also referred to the specific constitutional provisions that ensure the rights of persons with disabilities.
“The new mountaineering rule is against constitutional rights,” he argued.
Earlier, the government’s move to bar differently-abled persons, including those with double amputation from climbing peaks, had drawn wide criticism around the world.
Former British Gurkha soldier Hari Budha Magar, who lost both his legs in wars, was forced to cancel his plan to climb Mt Everest citing the government’s ‘discriminatory’ rule.
Reacting to the government’s move, Ambassador of the United States to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz and double amputee actor as well as trauma casualty simulator Darren Swift, Chairman of the Conquering Dreams Expedition Ian Rigden, President of the World Blind Union Fredric Schroeder and National Federation of the Disabled-Nepal, among others, had advocated accessible tourism for all irrespective of their physical abilities.
According to climbing records, Erik Weihenmayer of US (blind), New Zealander Mark Inglis (double leg amputee), Arunima Sinha of India (without left leg), Rob Hill of Canada (with Crohn’s disease) and Nepali-born Canadian Sudarshan Gautam (double-hand amputee), among others, successfully scaled Mt Everest in the past. Budha Magar also became the first double amputee above the knee to climb Mera Peak ((6,476m), the country’s highest trekking peak, last autumn.
A version of this article appears in print on February 27, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.