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 has been prepared on the basis of recommendations made by Sudha Kaul Committee. The Committee was 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.
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