D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Indian disability sector seems to be in the midst of revolutionary reforms. Close on the heels of the growing demand for a brand new Disability Act, the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 is all set to be amended to include all disabilities and to become an Act on Legal Capacity. Draft of the proposed amendments will be discussed in a meeting of the Amendments Sub Committee, the National Trust Board and a few invitees on April 7.
The proposed Amendments have changed the earlier definition of disability as mentioned in the Act which only included four disabilities to a more universal and inclusive definition in line with U.N.C.R.P.D. Thus, all disabilities will now come under the purview of the National Trust.
The proposed amendments have moved away from legal guardianship to the concept of legal capacity. If the amendments are adopted, all disabilities and not just persons with developmental disabilities will have the right to exercise their legal capacity. Persons with all forms of disabilities will be able to avail the supported decision making provisions.
According to Poonam Natarajan, Chairperson of National Trust, post amendments the National Trust will have access to the National Fund for disabilities which amounts to nearly 10,000 crores of rupees. This will be a huge boost compared to the mere 100 crore corpus that the Trust has been surviving on for the last over 10 years since its inception.
However, these amendments are facing stiff opposition from certain quarters. The bone of contention being the definition of disability and the scraping of legal guardianship. Disabled rights activists feel that the definition of disability will have to be universal. However, they also feel that the provisions for legal guardianship should be retained.