Disability Bill


The Union Cabinet approved the Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2013. However, there have been some controversy regarding the matter of the Bill.

Earlier, India had ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) in 2007. Since then, there have been efforts to enact a law for the same. The essence of the bill lies in the respect of the autonomy and dignity for all persons with disability.

The Bill was originally formed after a thorough pre-legislative deliberative process with several civil society organizations. However, the Bill approved by the Cabinet is in no way related to the one finalized through deliberations.

The Controversy

The Bill, of the Cabinet, denies to the people with psychological disability, the right to make their own life decisions, by permitting plenary guardianship; and thus allows discrimination on grounds of disability. In this way, the Bill systematically undo the rights and entitlements envisaged in the original Bill. Thus, a progressive, right-based bill has been transformed into an anachronistic, welfarist legislation through the dictates of the state structure. All the deliberations and negotiations of the democratic process has been put aside.

Back in the 1990s, the government set up a committee to suggest amendments to the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. However, despite a unanimous endorsement by civil society, not a single amendment took place.

Reforms Needed

The Bill needs several amendments urgently. The earlier efforts to rectify the ills of the existing provisions related to the disabled community has gone in vain.

Now, passing the Bill in a hurry would do no good. Such a step would not allow the contrary opinions to be raised. The New Bill does not specify about the fate of the other legislation dealing with the same matter. The Bill fails to respect the Right to Legal Privacy of an individual, which is explicitly given in the Article 12 of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD),

Faced with such dead-end, the disability community is left with no option but to knock at the doors of the Judiciary endlessly. This might hint at a delayed justice, if any.

This secretive way of passing legislation is anti-democracy. A government needs to be answerable for neglecting the voice of the masses.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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