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North Zone Consultation on New Law

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Disability rights activists from across the northern part of the country gathered in New Delhi on January 29 and 30 to discuss and debate whether the country needs a new disability law reflecting the letter and spirit of U.N.C.R.P.D. or patchwork amendments as proposed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. And the voice was clear, strong and united – all for a new law!

The consultation was organised by Action for Abilities Development and Inclusion (A.A.D.I.) and Sarthak, in association with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.), and supported by The British High Commission.

Leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi attended the Consultation. G. Syamala, Executive Director of A.A.D.I. and Dr. Achal Bhagat, Director, Sarthak gave the welcome address. Javed Abidi, Honorary Director, N.C.P.E.D.P. opened the debate on ‘New Law versus Amendments’ and moderated the discussion.

“Our aim is clear. We want a disability legislation to reflect U.N.C.R.P.D. in both letter and spirit. Whether we get it through 200 plus amendments or a new law is besides the point. However, personally I believe that amending the 1995 Act is to flog a dead horse,” Abidi said emphatically.

“Amendments no doubt will be a faster process than a new law. It is now up to us whether we want half baked rights in a shorter time or get all the rights that we are entitled to, even if we have to wait a little longer,” he added.

The gathering was unanimous in its demand for a new law and the fact that it should have stringent implementation mechanisms.

The Consultation also had sessions on ‘One law versus Four laws’, ‘Definition of Disability’, ‘Legal Capacity’ and ‘Accountability’.