D.N.I.S. News Network, India: More than 13 years after it came into force, the government is planning to make amendments to the Disability Act, 1995, in line with the U.N.C.R.P.D. A meeting of the Central Co-ordination Committee headed by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mukul Wasnik, was held at the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on July 21.
The draft proposes to include autism in the Act. Moreover, multiple disabilities, blindness and low vision are also going to be redefined. It also proposes to include a section on education for children with learning disabilities and deaf -blind children.
As far as access is concerned, it has been proposed to remove the economic capacity and development criteria and include a specification for reasonable time frame. The draft also proposes to introduce a monitoring level mechanism at the District Level. Currently, monitoring is only done at the Central or State level.
The disability sector, though, still has a number of reservations on the issue. A number of people from the sector feel that the amendments are a piecemeal effort. Shivani Gupta, Director, AccessAbilty says, “The proposed provisions have been collated from the four regions. We had sent our ideas but they have not been incorporated. The government had deputed a consultant to collate the provisions. Why were our suggestions edited? If at all this decision had to be taken, the editing should have been done at a senior level not while collating.”
“Also the provision of a ‘reasonable time frame’ will mean years in government parlance,” she adds.
Arun Rao, Executive Director, The Deaf Way feels there should be wider consultation on the proposed changes in definitions.
There is also a call to do away with the four laws that are there for disabled people - the Disability Act, the R.C.I. Act, the Mental Health Act and the National Trust Act, and make them into one single Act based on the U.N.C.R.P.D.
Vandana Bedi, Consultant, Disability and Development says, “More often than not, there is a lot of ambiguity on the laws since different disabilities are covered by different laws. We can work on having one Act that will consolidate all 4 Acts.”
There is a consensus among the sector that the Ministry should have wider consultation before they make any changes in the Act.
N.C.P.E.D.P requested the Ministry to make the draft public, but to no avail. D.N.I.S. has a copy of the draft of the proposed revision and a synopsis of the same.We tried to contact the Ministry for a soft copy of it, but they have refused to comment.
For a copy of the proposed amendments, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.