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M.S.J.E. backtracks! Amendments to the Disability Act postponed

D.N.I.S. News Network – Finally buckling under pressure from the disability sector, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (M.S.J.E.) has gone back on its earlier deadline for suggestions for bringing about rushed amendments to the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The deadline has now been extended by six months, to 31 January 2007.

This action is reflective of the manner in which the Ministry has been functioning. The amendment process had been on the back burner ever since Meira Kumar took over as the Minister over two years ago. Then suddenly, the Ministry woke up and invited suggestions from “interested individuals and organisations” for amendment to the Act. 

The disability sector was upset over the Ministry’s apathetic attitude. A.A.D.I. (formerly called Spastics Society of Northern India, New Delhi) convened a meeting of the disability sector leaders and activists, after which the deadline was pushed to 31 July 2006.

The so-called consultation process that followed was more like a window dressing. Never learning from experience, the M.S.J.E. once again failed to win the confidence of the disability sector and of disabled people for whose very welfare the Disability Act exists.

But now, thanks to the severe and all round criticism, and the loud, clear and coherent voices of the disability movement, the M.S.J.E. has backtracked and postponed its rushed attempt by six months.