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Acts In Disability

Special laws for persons with disabilities:

  • All the persons in the country are entitled to equal rights and equal protection of laws under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This also applies to persons with disabilities.
  • In exercise of this right, at any time, a disabled person can approach the court if he faces any unreasonable discrimination based on his disability.
  • The Constitution, however, permits positive discrimination and hence special laws can be passed for creating rights and reservations in favour of disabled persons, to enable them to bridge the gap with the non-disabled.

The 'special laws' for disabled persons are:

  • The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (in short, referred to as 'Disabilities Act' or 'the Act' hereinafter)
  • The National Trust for Welfare of Persons With Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999
  • Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992
  • Mental Health Act, 1987
  • United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008

Do you KNOW your RIGHTS?

Equal Opportunity Rights For Disabled Persons

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and full Participation) Act, 1995, rolls out a charter of rights to empower and mainstream disabled persons.

Q. What are the goals of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995?

  • To integrate persons with disabilities and to provide them with opportunities for full participation in society
  • To create a society in which disabled persons would enjoy equal status on par with non-disabled persons

Q. Are all disabled people entitled to the benefits of the Disability Act?

A. The general benefits of the Disabilities Act are meant for all disabled persons. However, the rights earmarked specially for "persons with disablity" are for only those affected by any of the following disabilities, to the extent of 40% or more, as certified by a recognised medical authority:

• Blindness
• Low-vision
• Leprosy-cured
• Hearing impairment
• Locomotive disability
• Mental retardation
• Mental illness

I am well-qualified, but because of my disability no one employs me. Will the Act help me find a suitable job?

Q What does the Disabilities Act provide for employment of disabled persons?

A. The Act provides the following to ensure employment for disabled persons:

  • 3% vacancies on identified posts in each government establishment are reserved for disabled persons, 1% each for: (i) persons with blindness or low vision (ii) persons with hearing impairment and (iii) persons with locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.
  • Carry-forward of a reserved vacancy in the next recruitment year if not filled in any recruitment year.
  • Filling up of the reserved vacancy by interchange among the three categories in the next recruitment year if it remains unfilled or when a vacancy cannot be filled by a given category of disabled due to the nature of the vacancy
  • Notifications to be issued on related matters like: Special Employment Exchanges, Training, Health and Safety Measures, Creation of a non-handicapping environment in work places employing disabled persons

Q. How does the Act protect a disabled person from discrimination at work?

A. The Disabilities Act prohibits the following:

  • A disabled person working in any government establishment cannot be denied promotion merely on the ground of his disability
  • Anyone employed in a government establishment who acquires a disability during his employment:
    Cannot be dispensed with or reduced in rank
  • If, after acquiring the disability, an employee is not suitable to continue on his post, he may be shifted to a suitable post with the same pay-scale and service benefits
  • Pending availability of a suitable post, a supernumerary post should be created for such a person

Q. Does the Act provide for employment in public and private sectors?

A. The government must announce schemes providing incentives to employers in public and private sectors which employ persons with disabilities comprising at least 5% of their workforce.

Q. Does the Act promote entrepreneurship/ownership amongst disabled persons?

A. The Act provides for preferential allotment of land to disabled persons by government at concessional rates for building their own houses, setting up business or factories and establishing special schools, research or recreational centres.

Q. How does the Disabilities Act set out to achieve its goals?

A. To achieve its goals, the Disabilities Act provides for the following:

  • Education of disabled persons
  • Employment of disabled persons
  • Special facilities for disabled persons for use and access of public transport system, civic amenities and public buildings/places
  • Preferential allotment to help disabled persons set up businesses and factories, build own houses, special schools and special recreation centres
  • Prevention and early detection of disabilities
  • Rehabilitation and social security of disabled persons
  • Research and manpower development on disability issues
  • Recognition of institutions for disabled persons
  • Setting up of dedicated authorities at central and state levels, for "coordination", "execution" and "adjudication" with regard to implementing the Act

Finding ways of preventing disability in the first place can save much agony. What does the Act say about that?

Q.What steps must be taken by the government for prevention and early detection of occurrence of disability?

A. Government and local authorities must:

  • Undertake surveys, investigations and research on causes of disabilities
  • Promote various methods of preventing disabilities
  • Screen all the children at least once a year to identify 'at-risk' cases
  • Organise awareness campaigns and disseminate information for general hygiene, health and sanitation
  • Take measures for pre-natal, perinatal and postnatal care of mother and child
  • Educate the public through pre-schools, schools, primary health centres, village level workers and anganwadi workers
  • Create awareness among the masses, through television, radio and other mass media, on the causes of disability and preventive measures

I dream of 'going to school like the other children...' can the Disabilities Act make this dream come true for me?

Q.Is there any duty on the government's part to provide and promote, education among disabled persons?

To provide education to persons with disabilities, the government must:

  • Ensure free education for every disabled person, in an appropriate , environment, till 18 years of age
  • Promote integration of disabled students in mainstream schools
  • For those in need of special education, promote setting up of special schools in the government and private sectors, equip these schools with vocational training facilities and ensure that disabled students living in every part of the country have access to such schools.
  • For infrastructure and other support, announce schemes for:
    • Transport facilities for disabled children or, in the alternative, financial incentives to parents/guardians to enable their disabled children to attend schools
    • Removal of architectural barriers from schools, colleges or other institutions imparting vocational and professional training to make them accessible
    • Supply of books, uniforms and other material to disabled children
    • Grant of scholarships to disabled students
    • Setting up of appropriate forums for redressal of grievances of parents regarding placement of their disabled children
    • Suitable modification in the examination system for the benefit of visually impaired students, to eliminate purely mathematical questions
    • Restructuring of curriculum for the benefit of all the disabled children, specifically for students with hearing impairment, allowing learning in only one language
    • Amanuensis (scribes/writers) for visually impaired students
    • To develop institutional support, set up adequate number of teachers' training institutions and assist the national institutes and other voluntary organisations to develop teachers' training programmes specialising in disabilities
    • Make schemes in the area of non-formal education of disabled persons

But I can't travel in any public transport or access most buildings. What about this?

Q What should the government do under the Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination against disabled persons in using modes of transport?

A. Government establishments related to the transport sector must:

  • Adapt rail compartments, buses, vessels and aircraft for easy access and use by disabled persons
  • Adapt toilets in rail compartments, ships and other vessels, aircraft and waiting rooms for the convenience of wheel-chair users

Q.What should the government do under the Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination in use of roads by disabled persons?

A.The government must provide for:

  • Auditory traffic signals, engravings on the surface of zebra crossings and on the edges of railway platforms to assist visually impaired persons
  • Slopes in pavements for easy access of wheel-chair users
  • Appropriate symbols of disability
  • Warning signals at appropriate places

Q. What should the government do under the Disabilities Act to enable disabled persons to access public buildings?

A. The government must provide the following in public buildings:

  • Ramps in all public buildings, especially in hospitals, primary health centres and other medical care and rehabilitation centres
  • Adapted toilets for wheel-chair users .
  • Braille symbols and auditory signals in lifts

Q. What should the government do under the Disabilities Act for 'social security' and 'rehabiIitation' of disabled persons?

A. The government must:

  • Frame schemes for payment of 'unemployment allowance' to disabled persons registered with the Special Employment Exchange for more than two years but still unemployed
  • Issue notification framing 'insurance scheme' or 'security scheme' for its employees with disabilities.
  • Undertake 'rehabilitation' of all disabled persons to enable them to reach and maintain optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric or social functional levels, including providing aids and appliances.

Who implements the Act? Is there any special office for readdressal of our grievances?

Q. Who is the implementing authority under the Disabilities Act?

A. The Disabilities Act provides for the following authorities:

  • Chief Commissioner (at the central level) and State Commissioners
  • Central and State Coordination Committees
  • Central and State Executive Committees

Q. What are the powers of Chief Commissioner/State Commissioners?

A.The powers of Chief Commissioner/State Commissioners are as follows:

  • The Chief Commissioner may, on his own, or on the application of any aggrieved person, or otherwise, look into complaints with respect to:
    • Deprivation of rights of disabled person
    • Non-implementation of laws, rules, bye-laws, regulations, executive orders, guidelines or instructions framed for welfare and protection of rights of disabled persons
  • The Chief Commissioner may thereafter take up the matter with the appropriate authorities
  • The Chief Commissioner shall also:
    Coordinate the work of the State Commissioners
    Monitor the utilisation of funds disbursed by the Central Government
    Safeguard the rights and facilities available to disabled persons
  • The State Commissioners have the same powers/functions, but at the state level

Q. What are the functions assigned to the Coordination Committees?

A. The Central and State Coordination Committees - at central and state levels respectively - must review and coordinate the activities of all government departments and NGOs and advise the respective government on formulation of disability-related policies, programmes, legislation and projects. They must also monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of disabled people and such other functions as may be prescribed by the government.

Q. What are the functions assigned to Executive Committees?

A. The Central and State Executive Committees - at central and state levels respectively - must carry out the decisions of the Central Coordination committee and perform other functions which may be delegated to it by the coordination Committee.

What can I do?

Q.What must a disabled person do to enforce the rights created under the Disabilities Act?

  • Make representations to the concerned government and/or the concerned establishment, if there is deprivation or violation of any right provided under the Disabilities Act
  • If there is no response or if the response is negative/inadequate, approach the concerned Commissioner of Disabilities
  • Alternatively, file a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, in the concerned High Court
  • If there is any violation of a Constitutional right also, of national importance, file Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, before the Supreme Court

Q. What can be done against violations of the rights under the Disabilities Act, that affect an entire group of disabled persons?

A. In such cases, a disabled person or a group of disabled individuals or even a concerned NGO or any organisation working for disabled persons, may, on behalf of the affected group or class, initiate Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in the High Court or, where it also amounts to violation of Constitutional rights or national importance, in the Supreme Court. For instance, PILs may be initiated on issues regarding education and/or employment of disabled persons, use and access in public transport system, civic amenities, public buildings, or the like, which affect and benefit more than one disabled person.