Candlelight vigil on New Year’s eve to be held in various States

Two disability rights organisations have demanded that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill be introduced in Parliament when it’s convened to pass the Vote on Account in January-February.

“We will be approaching all major political parties to garner support for this as we genuinely believe that the cause of disability is a totally non-partisan and non-political issue,” the Disabled Rights Group and the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled said at a press conference here on Friday.

Besides giving an expansive and comprehensive definition of disability, the Bill provides for an increase in the quota for persons with disabilities from 3 per cent to 5 per cent in government jobs.

As a mark of protest and to exert pressure on the political leadership, the organisations said they would hold candle light vigils in various parts of the country on the New Year’s Eve.

Expressing their dismay over the delay in introducing the Bill, they said that with India ratifying the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, it was expected that all the four disability specific legislations – the Mental Health Act 1987, Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992, Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 and the National Trust Act 1999 – would be harmonised.

“However, while the Mental Health Care Bill has been introduced in Parliament, the Bill replacing the 1995 Disability Act is yet to be introduced,” they said.

In fact, more than a year has passed since the new draft of the proposed Bill was uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in September 2012.

The Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment had given an assurance that the Bill would be introduced in the winter session, after the Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Draft Bill on December 12, 2013. However, because of the abrupt end of the winter session on December 18, the Bill was not tabled.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 27, 2013)
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