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Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016

  Feb 23, 2017

Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016

It  replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The legislation  was drafted on the basis of the recommendations of the Sudha Kaul Committee, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. According to the 2011 Census, the number of disabled in India stands at 2.68 crore, or 2.21 per cent of the population. The law will make a larger number of people eligible for rights and entitlements by reason of their disability since it recognises more disablities as compared to the 1995 Act. Apart from this, the  new law also complies with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Salient features:
  1.  covers 19 conditions, instead of seven disabilities specified in the  1995 Act  — blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness, the 2014 Bill was expanded to cover 19 conditions– including cerebral palsy, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, autism and thalassaemia among others. The amended version also recognises two other disabilities — resulting from acid attacks and Parkinson’s Disease. Apart from listing these disabilities, the Act  has also laid down provisions to allow the central government to notify any other condition as a disability.
  2.  The Act also mentions that individuals with at least 40 per cent of a disability are entitled to benefits like reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes and others. While the 1995 law had 3 per cent reservation for the disabled in higher education institutions and government, the new law  raised the ceiling to 5 per cent, adding 1 per cent each for mental illnesses and multiple disabilities.
  3. Many  rights and entitlements — including disabled friendly access to all public buildings — are conferred on the disabled individuals. The amendments include private firms in the definition of ‘establishments’, which previously referred to only government bodies. All such establishments have to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure, and are not discriminated against in matters of employment.
  4. It  laid down provisions in matters of guardianship of mentally ill persons.: District courts may award two types of guardianship. While a limited guardian is to take joint decisions with the mentally ill person, the plenary guardian takes decisions on behalf of the mentally ill person, without consulting them.