Volume 8 Issue 6 - March 15, 2011

Working Draft of proposed new disability law comes under fire; a cut paste job says the sector

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The botched up State Consultations seem to be a lesser problem for the Committee drafting the proposed new disability law. The content of the draft itself has been torn apart by experts and disabled activists alike. The most common reaction of the people in the disability sector is that it seems to be a rushed, cut paste job. The substantive issues have not been addressed. The chapter on ‘Authorities’ especially has been severely panned, along with ‘Definitions’, ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’! In fact, Chairperson Rehabilitation Council of India (R.C.I.), General Ian Cardozo, who is also a Member of the Committee, has admitted that the chapters on ‘Legal Capacity’ and ‘Authorities’ will have to rewritten.

In the Delhi and N.C.R. Consultation, participants brought up contradictions in the definitions and outrightly rejected the Disability Rights Authority (D.R.A.), as proposed by the Working Draft.

In the combined Consultation of Uttarakhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the whole chapter on ‘Legal Capacity’ has been asked to be rewritten.

The ‘Employment’ chapter has come under tremendous fire, especially from the mental health sector. In the envisaged 6 percent reservation for people with disabilities in Government jobs, 1 percent has been unthinkably slotted for people living with mental illness, people with autism and mental retardation, all combined!

The most contentious issues by far are ‘Legal Capacity’ and the demand of the larger disability sector for one comprehensive disability law with all the rights of all people with disabilities – which should also include the National Trust and R.C.I. in its fold.

The disability sector has long been demanding that the Committee should settle the substantive issues first before drafting the new law. This advice has not been listened to. The net result of the Committee’s high handedness is that after spending lakhs of tax payers’ money and wasting nearly a year, the so – called draft law is nowhere close to being accepted by the disability sector!

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