Court stays amendment to Everest climbing rulesThe Supreme Court on Wednesday granted an interim stay on the amendment to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation barring double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons from attempting to climb the world’s tallest peak.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted an interim stay on the amendment to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation barring double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons from attempting to climb the world’s tallest peak.
A constitutional bench of five justices led by Chief Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli issued an interim order not to implement the amended clause pending a final verdict in response to two separate writs filed by Madhav Prasad Chamlagain and visually impaired climber Chitra Bahadur Khatri alias Amit KC.
KC filed a writ against the government on Tuesday arguing that barring him from climbing Everest violated the fundamental rights of differently-abled people.
Chamlagain’s writ filed on February 26 has named the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Department of Tourism as defendants.
On December 28, 2017, the Cabinet’s Bill Committee approved the amendment to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation to bar double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons as proposed by the Department of Tourism, the agency responsible for issuing climbing permits. The amendment went into effect after it was published in the Nepal Gazette on January 29.
The amendment was approved even as differently-abled people like KC and former soldier Hari Budha Magar—who lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan—were training to scale Everest. KC in his writ petition has mentioned that he has made a big investment and practiced for years to climb Everest this year.
Magar has postponed his climbing bid to next year following the amendment to the regulation. Magar, who was born in Rolpa, has put together the necessary equipment. He has also prepared a team of 14 Sherpas and four rescue personnel for the expedition.
The Everest season begins next month when hordes of climbers will start travelling to the Khumbu valley for acclimatization. The actual climbing starts from the second week of May. The government’s decision to ban blind climbers from joining
Everest expeditions has also been criticised by the National Federation of the Blind, the World Blind Union and the National Federation of the Disabled, Nepal who have called the move ‘discriminatory’.
The National Federation of the Blind and the World Blind Union represent the US and global blind communities respectively. The Disability Rights Act passed by the Legislature-Parliament last August prohibits all kinds of discrimination on the basis of disability with the provision of action and punishment against such practices.
US climber Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to conquer Everest on May 25, 2001. Mark Joseph Inglis of New Zealand is the first double leg amputee to summit the world’s tallest peak. He accomplished the feat on May 15, 2006 after 40 days of climbing. A Nepali-born Canadian, Sudarshan Gautam, is the first double arm amputee to climb the world’s highest mountain. He did it on May 20, 2013.