Nepal | July 16, 2020

SC lets differently-abled climbers get permits to scale mountains

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, June 28

The Supreme Court today issued writ of certiorari in response to a petition filed by visually impaired climber Amit KC against the government’s decision to bar double amputee and visually impaired persons from climbing mountains. The SC is yet to prepare the full text of the verdict.

In March 2018, the SC had issued stay order against the government’s decision, allowing double amputee and visually impaired persons to obtain climbing permits to climb any mountains above 6,500 metres, including Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak.

The constitutional bench of the SC comprising Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana, Deepak Kumar Karki, Kedar Chalise, Meera Khadka and Hari Krishna Karki issued the writ of certiorari.

The petitioner had filed the case last year against the government after it revised clause of the mountaineering expedition regulation that bars double amputee and visually impaired persons from climbing mountains.

Visually impaired KC had reached near South Col by obtaining permit to climb Mt Everest in the spring season of 2017.

KC had argued that he had been preparing for Mount Everest expedition and had received Rs 1.5 million from the government in the course of his preparation. He stated in his writ that if the government barred double amputee and visually impaired people from scaling peaks, that would hurt the self-respect of differently abled persons.

He also stated that the governments’ decision to bar double amputee and visually impaired persons from climbing mountains violated their fundamental rights and undermined their prestige.

Earlier, the government’s move to bar differently-abled persons, including those with double amputation, from climbing peaks had drawn wide criticism from around the world.

According to climbing records, Erik Weihenmayer of US (visually-impaired), 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) had successfully scaled Mt Everest in the past.

Hari Bahadur Budha Magar also became the first double amputee above the knee to climb Mera Peak (6,476m), the country’s highest trekking peak, in the last autumn season.

A version of this article appears in print on June 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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