Recently GOI has passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016; the Parliament has adopted a radically transformative piece of legislation that addresses the concerns of the most marginalized section of Indian society. The World Bank estimates that 15% of the world’s population is affected by one disability or another. Exclusion of disabled persons from the labour market leads to an annual loss of approximately 3-7% of the GDP. According to Census 2011, India is home to 26.8 million people with disabilities and that is a huge underestimation.
The new law, when enacted, will repeal the old Disability Act 1995, and usher the Indian disability movement into a new age, where disability itself will be defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept. It increases the number of recognized disabilities from 7 to 21. With this, the official count will obviously also rise and as per conservative estimates, that figure could be as high as 70-100 million.
The key highlights of People with Disability Act 2016:
- It recognizes the need for reservation for them in promotion and makes special mention of the rights of disabled women and children. Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
- It lays down provisions to allow the central government to notify any other condition as a disability. Now individuals with at least 40% of a disability are also entitled to benefits such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes and others. Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
- The Bill provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law. Special courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs. 2016 Act had made violation of any provision of the Act punishable with a jail term of up to 6 months, and/or a fine of Rs. 10,000.
- The bill sets the government a two-year deadline to ensure persons with disability get barrier-free access in all kinds of physical infrastructure and transport systems.
- The new Act will bring our law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRPD. Further, the new law will not only enhance the rights and entitlements of divyangjan but also provide effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the society in a satisfactory manner.
21 Disabilities as included in Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016
- Low vision
- Leprosy cured persons
- Hearing Impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple disability
- Sickle cell anemia
- Chronic neurological disorders
- Acid attack
- Mental illness
- Specific learning disability
- Multiple sclerosis
- Speech and language disability