We need a new disability law, says rights group


New Delhi : The government is planning to amend the Persons with Disability Act and align it closely with the UNCRPD. Despite the proposed amendments, an NGO here says that it will not meet the needs of the disabled community and suggests that a new disability law be framed.

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Javed Abidi, convener of the umbrella organisation Disability Rights Group, said that the proposed amendments reflect that disability is still treated like a disorder and that it does not try addressing the everyday barriers that a disabled person faces in his or her everyday life.

“The key principles and tenets of UNCRPD – effective participation, inclusion, legal capacity, individual autonomy, liberty of movement, political participation, and participation in decision making – are inconsistently reflected in writing of the amendments,” Abidi said.

“Legal capacity surprisingly does not even find a mention in the proposed amendments,” he added.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which lays stress on a rights based approach towards the disabled, is missing from the government’s proposed amendments in the law, Abidi said.

In a letter to Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik, Abidi said: “We urge you to begin a consultative process with the key voices in the disability sector so as to be able to finalize a futuristic document for alignment of the Indian disability laws to UNCRPD.”

“In order to align our laws to the tenets of the UNCRPD, the changes required are so substantive that it may be useful to write a new law instead of just making a few amendments,” the letter added.

“We have even proposed a new name for the disability law – Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Respect for Dignity, Effective Participation and Inclusive Opportunities) Act, 2009. The minister has informed us that the process of consultation with the disability sector will be open till December and only after that will he take a decision on whether to amend the law or draft a new one,” Abidi said.