Disability leaders from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu participated in the consultation to discuss the idea of having a new law, based on United Nation Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (U.N.C.R.P.D.). Rohinee Singh of D.N.I.S. brings for the readers, the views of some participants who attended the two days Consultation in Chennai on April 16 and 17.
D.N.I.S.: Are you in favour of a new law based on U.N.C.R.P.D. or amendments to the Disability Act of 1995? If yes/no, why?
What are your aspirations from the new law/amendments?
G. Paul Ramanathan, State Secretary, Karnataka Angavikalara Rajya Okkuta, Bengaluru, Karnataka: If amendments to the existing Disabilities Act, 1995, can take place in line with the U.N.C.R.P.D. then we welcome them, else we need to scrap the existing Act and go ahead with a new law.
The new Act should be like a vision document for the next twenty five years. I want the new law to have a well defined monitoring system, so that, the power does not go into the wrong hands.
Meenu Bhambhani, Head, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, MphasiS, Bengaluru, Karnataka: I support the new law based on U.N.C.R.P.D.
My aspirations from the new law are that it should bring all the disabilities under the umbrella of one law. It should have the rights based approach for inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. It should ensure accountability of ministers and departments, to include us right from the stage of decision making to implementation and evaluation.
Dr. Benny P.D
Dr. Benny P.D., Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Calicut, Kerala: The existing law is not of too much use to the sector. We definitely need a new law.
In the new law, we should be able to fix accountability.
Rahul Cherian, Head of Policy Initiative, Inclusive Planet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: The ultimate objective here is to have a law, which will meet the requirements of all disabled people. It may be done through amendments or through a new law. If we can amend the existing law, we will save time. I feel that the government too will be keener on amendments, than creating a new law. But if D.R.G. can push the government to create a new law, we are with them.
The new law or the amendment, whichever comes out finally should be fundamentally sound and not clash with any other law.
M. Raghunandan, Maruti Institite of Nervous (Mental) Disorders, Bengaluru, Karnataka: I donít think we should feel satisfied with the patch work that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is doing vis - a - vis the amendments to the existing Act. We should fight for the new law for the benefit of the disability sector.
In the new law, mental illness and mental retardation should be separately classified and well defined. We need to have a support mechanism for these two groups.
P. Ashok Rao
P. Ashok Rao, District Coordinator, Network of Persons with Disability Organisation, Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh: We need a new law. The existing law has several loopholes and implementation is very weak.
The new law should have a strict monitoring system. Three percent of the central, state, district and panchayat funds should be marked for disability. In the new law, we also need fast track courts for disabilities at all levels.
Vijaya Kumar, Advocate, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: No matter how many amendments we make, the existing law cannot match the expectation created by U.N.C.R.P.D. The existing law is based on the charity model, while U.N.C.R.P.D. has a rights based approach.
In the new law, the definition of disability should be based on U.N.C.R.P.D. Each disability should be well defined and there is a need to have a strong implementing mechanism.
Ankit Jindal, Director, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre, Bengaluru, Karnataka: Disability sector is disintegrated into different groups. People with disabilities are myopic about things that are close to them. We cannot have four different laws. There is a need to have one comprehensive law.
The new law should have very clear short, medium and long term goals. To deal with persons with disabilities, there is a need to have an escalated hierarchy in the government, from the grass root to the top most level. Disabled people should be provided employment opportunities and they should have a platform where they can challenge the government.
P.B. Suresh Babu
P.B. Suresh Babu, Panel lawyer for Legal Aid Centre, Disability Law Unit, Vidya Sagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: The amendments proposed are too many. There is no point in making hundreds of amendments. We should go in for a new law.
All the aspects that have not been covered in the Disabilities Act, 1995, need to be covered in the new law. The new Act should have an answer to all the questions of a disabled person.
T. Raghava, Honorary General Secretary, All India Deaf Bank Employees Association, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: We definitely need a new law.
In the new law, the definition of disability should be well defined.
Dipti Bhatia, Deputy Director, Vidya Sagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: Definitely a new law. It should be comprehensive, covering all disabilities and based on U.N.C.R.P.D.
The new law has to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are safeguarded and every provision should have a legal clout to ensure that there is no escape for violators.
A. Padma, Secretary, Tejaswi Mahila Viklangual Network, Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh: Presently we have different acts for different disabled people. This often leads to confusion. The new law should be based on U.N.C.R.P.D.
In the new law, women with disabilities should be given a special importance.