Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016 (R.P.W.D.) was enacted under the Article 253 of the Constitution of India read with item No. 13 of the Union List. India has been in a great need of such an Act as there was no comprehensive law that could define and implement rights of the persons with disabilities in the country.
- Draft Bill of this Act was created in 2011
- The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 14 December 2016 and by Lok Sabha on 17 December 2016
- Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016 came into effect on 30 December 2016
- It replaced the Persons with Disability (P.w.D.) Act that was enacted way back in 1995
Important Points in the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016
Download the full PDF file of this Act (Source: Department of Disability Affairs, Government of India)
This Act is considered to be comprehensive and it aims to provide equal opportunities to persons with disabilities in India (although we feel that the language used in certain portions of the Act is loose). Some of the salient features of this Act are:
Also See: Infographic on RPWD Act 2016
- According to the Act any person who “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with a disability in any place within public view” is punishable with imprisonment.
- To increase the job opportunities of persons with disabilities, the Act has increased the reservation quota from 3% to 4%. This means that 4% of all vacancies in the government organizations will be reserved for disabled people.
- Another very important feature of this Act is the provision of special courts in each district. These special courts will handle cases pertaining to the violation of the rights of P.w.D.
- A large number of children with disabilities do not get proper education in India. This act proposes that every child with disability gets free education from the age of 6 to 18.
- State Governments will constitute district-level committees to address the local issues of P.w.D.
- Office of Chief Commissioner and the Office of State Commissioners of Persons with Disabilities have been given more powers.
- Broad-based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy-making bodies at the Central and State level.
- Victims of acid attacks have been included in the list of P.w.D. Unfortunately, in India, acid attacks have been on the rise in last few years. Girls and women are often left severely disfigured/disabled due to such attacks.
- Dwarfism and Muscular Dystrophy have also been included as separate categories of disability.
- Three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease, have been included in the list of disabilities.
- Number of types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21. The Central Government will have power to add more types of disabilities in this list. At present the list includes:
- Leprosy Cured persons
- Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)
- Locomotor Disability
- Intellectual Disability
- Mental Illness
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Chronic Neurological conditions
- Specific Learning Disabilities
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Speech and Language disability
- Sickle Cell disease
- Multiple Disabilities including deaf-blindness
- Acid Attack victim
- Parkinson’s disease
- National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
- Emphasis has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings (both government and private) within a prescribed time-frame.
We, however, feel that there is need to do more on government’s part. One of the major concern is the vague language of the Act especially in the sections pertaining to discrimination and guardianship. Although the number of types of disabilities has been increased to 21, but still there are many people who will be left out. The list should be further expanded to include more people who are struggling with lesser known types of disabilities.
Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016 is a good beginning. But the rights of P.w.D. will be protected only if this Act will be implemented in its true spirit. Entire government machinery and the society at large will have to be sensitized towards the needs and equality of P.w.D. Equal opportunity for all can not be achieved only by passing a law. The entire society has to participate in creating such opportunities.
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