Volume 2 Issue 13 - July 01, 2004

Legal big guns support regional disability law unit workshop

DNIS News Network -- A workshop for the North East region Disability Law Unit was held on June 25 in Guwahati, Assam.

Picture of the North East Disability Law Unit workshop

Organised jointly by National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People and Guwahati-based Shishu-Sarothi, the day brought together more than 80 lawyers and NGO workers to discuss the legal situation of disabled people in the region.
NCPEDP, with Rs8.5million funding from the British High Commission’s Global opportunities Fund, has set up three regional law units so far, one of which is based in Guwahati.

The workshop provided an opportunity for interested parties from all eight states in the North-east region. Lawyers, service providers and people from a large number of NGO’s gathered together to discuss how the law, in particular the Disability Act 1995, can be used to improve the lives of India’s 60million disabled people and their families.

The workshop’s chief guest, the Honourable Chief Justice Shri PP Naolekar, stressed that lawyers and disability organisations must take an active role in making sure that the Act was fully enforced. “Legislation alone will not help unless it is used,” he told delegates.

He advised all those present to press local government departments to monitor their reservations of posts for disabled people and to ensure that the quotas were filled.

Echoing these sentiments, Mr Colin Gonsalves, director of the Human Rights Legal network, who had flown in from Delhi to speak at the workshop, urged delegates to act positively and to avoid being overwhelmed by legal processes: “Don’t follow the rules of society,” he said, “Our sector is outside society, it is ignored by society.”

He also encouraged people to keep going, even if they sometimes felt they were a lone voice against the bulk of Indian bureaucracy: “It’s not one person protesting,” he said, “it’s society. It’s not about numbers, it’s about the case you make.”

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