Govt move to bar double amputee from climbing Everest challenged at Supreme Court

KATHMANDU: A case has been filed at the Supreme Court demanding annulment of a provision of the country’s mountaineering expedition regulation that bars double amputee and blind persons from attempting to climb mountains including Mt Everest.

Registering a writ petition at the apex court today, Madhav Prasad Chamlagain who also represents the 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 ban on double amputee and blind persons from obtaining climbing permit for all the climbing peaks.

The petitioner also seeks SC’s immediate intervention into the issue, arguing that the specific clause of the revised regulation violated the human rights as granted by the constitution and as well as the United Nations convention on the rights of the persons with disabilities.

Chamlagain said that he was fighting for the rights of the persons with disabilities which consist of around 15 percent of the world population. According to him, the SC will hear the case before the constitutional bench on March 7.

UN 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 the 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 for the rights of persons with disabilities. “The new mountaineering rule is against of the constitutional rights,” he argued.

Earlier, the government’s move to bar differently-able persons including those with double amputation from climbing peaks had drawn a wide criticism around the world. Former British Gurkha soldier Hari Budha Magar, who lost his both legs in wars, was forced to cancel his plan to climb Mt Everest citing the government ‘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 for accessible tourism for all.

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 Cabnada (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, in the last autumn season.