A sustained campaign by several disability rights activists and organizations across India has forced the government to bring amendments to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014

Delhi, December 3, 2016: Thousands of disabled persons owing allegiance to various national level disability rights organisations organised a meeting at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi today coinciding with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The meeting adopted the following resolution:

We are glad to know that consequent to the sustained campaign conducted by disability rights organisations, the government has proposed to move amendments to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 (RPD Bill). Though it was slated to be moved on December 2, on the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, due to the non-functioning of the Rajya Sabha the amendments could not be tabled.

The sheer volume of the amendments – 197 in number – by itself suggests the inadequacy of the Bill introduced in 2014, vindicating the stand taken by several disability rights organisations about the inadequacies and infirmities of the half-baked legislation and the demand for sending it for scrutiny to the Standing Committee.

Ever since the Standing Committee submitted its recommendations in May 2015, we have been conducting a phased countrywide campaign urging upon the government to clarify its stand with regard to the RPD Bill and the recommendations made by the Standing Committee. We had urged that this be done during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.

We welcome the fact that the government is introducing amendments that address some of the major concerns that disability rights organisations had raised with regard to certain provisions contained in the Bill.

However, one of the major concerns that disability rights organisations had was with regard to Section 3(3) of the 2014 Bill which states that “No person with disability shall be discriminated on the ground of disability, unless it is shown that the impugned act or omission is appropriate to achieve a legitimate aim”. This clause we had opined gives unfettered power to the implementing authorities to discriminate against persons with disabilities, on the pretext of serving a “legitimate aim”. The amendment proposed by the government to this section does not alter the provision in any manner.

The amendment seeking to reduce the provision of reservation in higher educational institutions and for employment from 5 percent proposed in the Bill to 4 percent as also doing away with the provision of National and State Disability Commissions are unacceptable. The amendments talk of granting total support and limited guardianship in the same breadth. Schemes and policies for providing support should be ensured.

We therefore appeal to the government and all political parties to see that these concerns are also addressed adequately and the Bill be taken up for discussion in the ongoing session of the Parliament.

Signatory organisations:
1. National Platform for Rights of the Disabled
2. National Federation of the Blind
3. All India Federation of the Deaf
4. National Association of the Blind
5. Rashtriya Viklang Manch
6. Federation of Disability Rights
7. Parivaar – National Confederation of Parents Organisations
8. Human Rights Law Network
9. Disabled Employees Association of Railways
10. Northern Railway Physically Handicapped Employees Association
11. Sense International
12. CREA
13. Families Alliance on Mental Illness, National Network
14. Disabled People’s Helpline

Muralidharan: 0091 98687 68543
S. K. Rungta: 0091 93126 07540

For background information and history behind this key development, please see Need for Speed on Disability Rights Law by Shampa Sengupta in the November 2016 issue of Varta – Editor.