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Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2011

 14-DEC-2013

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The Union Cabinet on 12 December 2013 approved the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2011. The Bill is a comprehensive measure that covers a whole spectrum of problems from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities. It will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.

The Bill is based on the recommendations of Sudha Kaul Committee appointed in 2010 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Main highlights of the Bill

• Provides for 5% reservation in public sector jobs and makes the private sector more accountable for creating a disabled-friendly environment. It provides incentives for the private sector to take such measures.

• To ensure political participation, the Bill says that every person with disability who fulfils eligibility requirements is entitled to be registered as a voter. He/she should not be disqualified from exercising the voting right on the grounds of disability, irrespective of any stipulation to the contrary in any law for the time being in force.

• Further, it says that any person who is unable to vote in person due to disability or because of admission to hospital for treatment is entitled to opt for postal ballot. It requires the Election Commission to ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities.

• It allows mentally unsound women the right to fertility and prescribes punishment for forced abortion or hysterectomy on them.

• The Bill is based on the premise of all rights for all disabled. The Bill has been described as historic by the social activists as it has provided the definition of disability in very expansive terms to cover all kinds of disability whether physical or mental.

Analysis

According to Census 2001, there were about 2.2 crore persons with disabilities in India, constituting 2.1% of the total population. The estimated population of persons with disabilities in 2008 is 2.44 crore.

The disability rights emerged from the movements of non-government organizations (NGOs) in late 1970s and 1980s demanding woman and dalit rights. This culminated in persons with different ability (PWD) attaining a platform to voice their concern. As a result, Government of India (GoI) in 1995 enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act.

The 1995 Act provided for 3% reservation in government jobs among other things. The operation of the Act in last 18 years did not see any meaningful change in the rights of the disabled people. Yet it provided disabled people to come together, forming   groups as they started making demands to implement this law.

To the delight of disability groups, India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Convention) in October 2007. This Convention marks a formal shift from the archaic medical model to the social model, and promotes the rights of people living with disabilities.

Article 1 of the Convention encapsulates the overall objective of the Convention which is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

The Convention recognises that persons with disability are right-holders instead of passive recipients of government schemes. In contrast, the 1995 Act was enacted in order to implement the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia-Pacific Region. This instrument did not expressly recognise rights, but laid emphasis on the need to eliminate physical and social barriers so as to promote the participation of people living with disabilities.

The 1995 Act, thus, does not internalise any of the core principles that form the bedrock of the Disability Convention.  
Furthermore, the 1995 Act adopts a narrow definition of disability and confines it to “blindness; low vision; leprosy-cured; hearing impairment; locomotor disability; mental retardation; and mental illness”. As opposed to this, the Disability Convention recognises that “disability is an evolving concept” and avoids listing specific conditions and severities.

The Disability Convention has broadly defined “persons with disabilities” to “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Moreover, even the mandate of the Constitution of India provides for equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals, which implies an inclusive society for all, especially the disadvantaged. Article 41 of Part IV Directive Principles of State Policy is particularly relevant with regard to persons with disabilities. It directs the State to make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

To bridge the loopholes in the 1995 Act and to abide by the express provisions of the Part IV of the Constitution and the Disability Convention of the UN, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment appointed the

Conclusion

The Bill, to conclude, recognizes the equality of persons with disabilities and prohibits direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of disability. The Bill also makes provision for the practical implementation of all the civil political rights included in the Disability Convention. Many of these rights are also affirmed by the Constitution of India.

Acts/Policies/Programmes for Disabled Persons

Acts/Policies/Programmes

Salient Features of the Policies and Programmes

Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995

 

The Act has been enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution read with item No. 13 of the Union List that reads “Participation in international conferences, associations and other bodies and implementing of decisions made there.”

It provides for disabled person’s education, employment, creation of barrier free environment, social security, etc. The implementation of the Act requires a multi-sectoral collaborative approach by the appropriate governments, including various Central Ministries/Departments, States/Union Territories, local bodies.

National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999

 

The Act provides for constitution of the Board of the National Trust, Local Level Committees, Accountability and Monitoring of the Trust. It has provisions for legal guardianship of the four categories of the persons with disabilities and for creation of enabling environment for their as much independent living as possible.

Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992

 

The Act provides for constitution of the Rehabilitation Council of India for regulating the training of rehabilitation professionals, maintenance of a Central Rehabilitation Register, recognized rehabilitation qualifications, minimum standards of educations etc.

Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP Scheme)

 

The main objective of the Scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances. The Scheme aims to promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential.

The Quantum of Assistance under the Scheme is limited by the Income. For income up to 6000 rupee per month, full cost of aid/appliance is provided as assistance. For income range 6000 rupee to 10000 rupee, 50% of the cost of aid/appliance is provided as assistance.

Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)

 

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and was launched in 1999 as Scheme to Promote Voluntary Action for Persons with Disabilities. It was revised and renamed in 2003 as Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme.

The objective of the DDRS is (i) to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities and (ii) to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Protection of Rights) Act of 1995.

 Under DDRS, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides grants-in-aid to NGOs to facilitate delivery of various services to persons with disability.

National Policy for Persons with Disabilities

 

The Policy was adopted in February, 2006. It recognizes that Persons with Disabilities are valuable human resource for the country and seeks to create an environment that provides them equal opportunities, protection of their rights and full participation in society.

The focus of the policy is on (a) Prevention of Disabilities and (b) Rehabilitation Measures.

The salient features of the National Policy are:

  • Physical Rehabilitation, which includes early detection and intervention, counseling & medical interventions and provision of aids & appliances. It also includes the development of rehabilitation professionals.
  • Educational Rehabilitation including vocational training and
  • Economic Rehabilitation for a dignified life in society.
  • The policy specifically focuses on issues concerning women and children with disabilities.

If you have any Question/Point on the above information, please ask/discuss it in the Current Affairs Group



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