New law for the disabled mooted

New law for the disabled mooted

However, 15 years after the Act came into effect, many in the sector feel that it has served its purpose and that the government must now look at replacing it with a new legislation.

"The Act has run its time. It is over 13 years old and was framed in the very early days of our movement. It is now time to move on," Javed Abidi, Chairman of National Centre for  Promotion and Employment of Disabled Persons and convenor for the Disabled Movement in India, had said in a message to fellow activists.

Abidi and other disability activists feel the proposed amendment to the Act by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which looks at the welfare of persons with disability, as a poor attempt to sandpaper a legislation that has run its course.  "Even with the hundred or so amendments the government has proposed, the Act doesn't align itself with the UN Convention for Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), which India signed and ratified last year," said Kanchan Pamnani, a Mumbai-based visually challenged corporate lawyer and activist.

"The present PWD Act only covers our rights in terms of education and employment, what we at the Disability Action Group have been proposing is a broad-based, rights-based legislation that brings human,  political, civil and economic rights of persons with disability," Kanchan, who is in Delhi to receive the national award for persons with disability from President Prathiba Patil told Deccan Herald.

Right issue

The idea of new legislation, which activists would like to call The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Respect for Dignity, Effective Participation and Inclusive Opportunities) Act, has been proposed to the government a few months before and Kanchan said the government would take this forward.

She said, "We would like the stake holders to understand the difference the new legislation would make. With such level of public support, the government eventually will have to agree to the proposal," she added.