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Finally, R.T.E. Act to be amended to include all disabilities

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: In what can be seen as a totally unprecedented event in Indian political history, the Right To Education Act will be amended to include all disabilities barely a month after it was passed by the Parliament and signed by the President of India. The move comes after a direct intervention made by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, following protests by disabled rights activists.

The Act included only those disabilities mentioned in the Disability Act of 1995 and excluded people with intellectual and mental disabilities. It also did not include disabled children in the ‘disadvantaged’ category. Earlier, Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development had announced in the Lok Sabha that they would incorporate enabling provisions in the “Rules” to be framed for the Act. However, the disability sector felt that rules alone would not suffice in making it legally binding. As per the proposed amendment, R.T.E. Act will now also include children covered under the National Trust Act and any other legislations which deal with people with mental as well as physical disabilities.

It may be mentioned that disabled rights activists had met Kapil Sibal bringing these exclusions to his notice. But he refused to make any changes citing the lack of funds. The disability rights activists had no choice but to protest. The protest was finally called off after Dr. Manmohan Singh intervened.

Disability rights activists are keen to work with the H.R.D. Ministry on this issue and have been trying to get an appointment with Sibal for the past one month but to no avail.

“We have sent him letters asking for appointment and even faxed the letter four times but have not even received an acknowledgment till now,” said G. Syamala, Executive Director, A.A.D.I. and member, Disabled Rights Group.