[Solved] Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities act-2016 was passed recently in the Parliament. The act replaced the PwD Act, 1995, which was enacted 21 years back. According to Census 2011, India is home to 26.8 million people with disabilities and that is a huge underestimation.
The salient features of the Bill are which ensure empowerment and inclusion are:
• Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
• The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities
. • Provision and extension of affirmative action
• Penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities
• Rights based approach: The new Act empowers persons with disabilities (PwDs) with the right to equality, preservation of dignity and personal liberty. It also protects against discrimination.
• Education: Right to free education in a neighborhood school for children between 6-18 years with a benchmark disability
• Guardianship of mentally ill persons: provision of grant of limited guardianship by the District Courta limited guardian will take joint decisions with the mentally ill person- affirmation of freedom of the mentally ill. Social security
• The new Act widens the ambit of social security- provision for community centres with good standard of living, support to women for livelihood, free healthcare in the neighbourhood areas, cultural and sporting activities etc.
• In fact, the inclusion of acid-attack victims and people with learning disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, blood disorders, speech and language disabilities (among others) under its ambit is a perfect example of the inclusive undertone sustained throughout the Act.
• Obligations under the new disability regime apply not only to government establishments but also to “private establishments”
- Reservations in public employment increased to 4% also reservation in higher education, allocation of land, poverty alleviation also provided. Under accessible India campaign provisions were made in the act to make sure public buildings must be accessible to divyangas.
- The existing trust fund and other funds were subsumed and created a National level fund and State level fund. It will provide financial aid to the divyangas.
- It provides penalties for the offences committed against the disable persons. It also ensure for providing special district level courts to handle cases violating the rights of PWDs.
- This act will bring our law in line with the united nations convention on rights of persons with disabilities(UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
- District level committee will be constitutes will be constituted by state govts to address the local concerns of PwDs. Every children with bench mark disability between age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education. This act will not only provide protection but also empowers the divyangas. At the same time the act is not specific about the right to information and right to health of PwDs.
- The Act confers several rights and entitlements to disabled people. It aims to provide disabled friendly access to public buildings, hospitals, transportation services and polling stations. It seeks to provide inclusion and enable accessibility for increased range of services.
- In the case of mentally ill, the district courts are to grant two types of guardianship, namely limited guardianship for joint decision making and plenary guardianship for deciding without consultation. Persons with 40% disabilities are eligible for reservation in education, jobs and preferential treatment in government schemes. Such measures aim to empower the disabled and not leave them lagging behind as India progresses forward. The Act provides for a punitive fine of Rs-10,000/- and /or a imprisonment of 6 month for violations of the act.
- Thus, the Act has widened the ambit of disabled persons and increased inclusive measures. It also aims to facilitate the living of a full life and achievement of their full potential by empowering the disabled persons.
- Other than the academic examination, more students with disabilities are going to opt for professional courses.
- It will enable ample opportunity for PwDs in the private sector.
- The creation of special courts for speedy trials to address the offenses committed against disabled persons will ensure justice.
• They carry ambiguities that can be twisted and distorted to meet selfish interests.
• The goal of empowerment may well remain elusive and reliant on the interests of the persons without a disability.
• Many new appointments and the strengthening of offices, which have been promised in the Act, are also devoid of the aim of providing absolute justice.
• There also seems to be no authority that can try an accused or pass a verdict.
• The authority that the Act wields on the private sector is therefore, highly limited. Therefore, The New Act will bring our law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRD. Further, the new law will not only enhance the Rights and Entitlements of Divyangjan but also provide effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the Society in a satisfactory manner
The 2016 Act will definitely intend to introduce a set of changes to deliver the basic rights to the person with disabilities. Joint cooperation of state and central government and continuous monitoring and making it compatible by introducing necessary changes from time to time will further strengthen the position of the disabled person in the society
It would have been better if the specific aspects concerning the persons living with mental illness, such as the matter of their protection from abuse, violence and exploitation, and guardianship (limited or otherwise), was covered by suitable and comprehensive provisions in the MHCB, 2016 leaving only general provisions to be covered by this Act. However, due to reasons unknown, it was not done. Intellectual Disability (Mental Retardation), Autism and Multiple Disabilities which were well covered earlier by National Trust Act of 1999 will face similar situation like people with Mental Illness by this Act. It is pertinent to note that Indian Psychiatric Society, the largest professional association of psychiatrists in India with more than 90% of qualified psychiatrists in its fold, was not involved as a stakeholder during the process of drafting of the RPWD Act, 2016 though it made its representation on its own initiative at various stages. It must be recognized that the psychiatric professionals hold expertise in the field of treatment and care of the persons living with mental illness, autism and intellectual disability. Therefore, their advice must be given due importance while drafting any legislation in this field. Practical difficulties anticipated to occur in the treatment and care of the PMI and in the delivery of mental health services have been discussed here. These facts should be taken into consideration and necessary measures should be undertaken while framing rules by the central and the state Governments for implementation of this Act.
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