The Rajya Sabha on 14 December 2016 passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 by voice vote. The proposed legislation will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 after its passage by the Lok Sabha and approval of the President.
It fulfills the government’s responsibilities under the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is a signatory. It will benefit around 2.8 crore disabled population in the country.
Highlights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014
• The bill deals with a range of issues – rights, social protection, reservations, welfare schemes – for the all round development of disabled.
• The bill identifies 19 conditions as disabilities against the seven disabilities identified by the existing Act.
• Under the bill, persons with at least 40% of a disability will be entitled to reservations in education and employment and preference in government schemes.
• The bill also provides for a disabled friendly environment in public spaces such as modes of transport, public offices, hospitals, etc. This provision will give legal safeguards to the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) of the Union Government.
• It authorises the district courts to provide for two types of guardianship – limited guardianship and plenary guardianship.
• While a limited guardian takes decisions jointly with the mentally ill person, a plenary guardian will be empowered to take decisions on behalf of the mentally ill person, without consulting him/her.
• In order to ensure its stricter compliance, it specifies punishments for the violators. The guilty will be punished with imprisonment up to six months, and/or fine of Rs 10000.