The government will soon bring a law to protect rights of differently abled persons with higher punishment for crimes committed against and five% reservation in government jobs.
The newly created ministry of disability affairs has prepared draft Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill in consultation with the states governments, which is being circulated for inter-ministerial consultations before the Cabinet takes it up for approval.
The proposed law once enacted would replace the present Persons with Disabilities (Equal Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which many experts feel had failed to do justice with India’s increasing population of disabled people.
The existing law covers only seven types of disabilities leaving aside many such as mental illness, dyslexia and deafness. It is primarily based on the concept that disabled need charity of the society rather than making them cohesive part of the system.
Javed Abidi of Disabled Rights Group (DRG), who advocated for the new law, says the proposed draft provided for “rights based approach” as against “welfare based” legislation. “It is a good but not a perfect draft,” he said.
The new law, which government officials expect to be finalised soon, widens the definition of disability to include all types and for the first time makes private sector accountable to providing public services in disabled friendly manner. It also says that special training for disabled persons should be provided in specialised fields such as broadcasting and sports.
The draft also proposed to increase reservation for disabled from existing three percent to five percent considering that recent reports including that of World Bank said that population of disabled in India ranged from four to eight percent. Of that, one percent vacancies in the government would be reserved for people having vision problem, hearing or speech impairment, autism, cerebral palsy and mental illness.
Creation of National Fund for Disabilities under the proposed law and special courts for them are other new provisions being proposed.
In cases of crime committed against the disabled, a government official said, the bill talks of higher punishment then the one prescribed for same crimes in the Indian Penal Code. “It would send a strong message,” the official said.
To ensure that the provisions of the proposed law are enforced, the bill provides for creation of a national commission for disabled people and similar ones at the state levels. These commissions would have similar power as national commission for scheduled tribes and scheduled castes.