Heart ailment cannot be included under disability: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said a heart ailment cannot be included as a disability under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.

“Section 2(i) of the Act takes into account visual disability, locomotor disability, mental illness, mental retardation, hearing impairment and leprosy. A heart ailment is not covered within the definition of disability in the Act. We would hesitate to import words, which the legislature chose not to, in their definition of disability,” a three-judge Bench of Justices S.K. Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy observed.

The judgment came on an appeal filed by a sailor for disability compensation. The Bench upheld a judgment of the Patna High Court, which had concluded that the dilated cardiomyopathy condition suffered by the seaman would not facilitate any benefit to the appellant under Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act.

“In the case in hand, no linkage between the on-ship duty and the appellant’s medical condition could be established. The dilated cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant is neither a specified disability nor is the same relatable to the broad spectrum of impairments, which hinders his full and effective participation in society,” the court held.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

The petitioner, Nawal Kishore Sharma, had challenged the High Court’s rejection of his claim for disability compensation under clause 21 of the National Maritime Board Agreement.

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