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OAS Mains Q&A: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016

Context

The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s notification proposing the amendment of the Right of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, to de-criminalize “minor offences for improving business sentiment and unclogging court processes” Need of the amendment.

The Government has undertaken the process of reviewing existing laws, many of which were devised by the British under the Indian Penal Code and had never been reviewed – such as IPC Section 377, which criminalizes homosexuality.

According to the new proposal, the imprisonment provision will be taken out, and the penalty can be negotiated by the sparring parties under the supervision of either the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities or State Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities.

However, activist oppose the amendment stating it will dilute the whole effectiveness of RPwD act, 2016

Question

High light Salient Features of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

Sample Answer

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 is the disability legislation passed by the Indian Parliament to fulfill its obligation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which India ratified in 2007. The Act replaces the existing Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

Salient Features of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

  • In the RPWD Act, 2016, the list has been expanded from 7 to 21 conditions.
  • It now also includes cerebral palsy, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims, hard of hearing, speech and language disability, specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, chronic neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, blood disorders such as haemophilia, thalassemia, and sickle cell anaemia, and multiple disabilities.
  • The Act provides an elaborate definition of mental illness which is a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, and capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.
  • But it does not include retardation which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person, especially characterized by subnormality of intelligence.
  • Persons with benchmark disabilities are defined as those with at least 40% of any of the above disability. PWD having high support needs are those who are certified as such under section 58(2) of the Act.
  • The RPWD Act, 2016 provides that “the appropriate Government shall ensure that the PWD enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity, and respect for his or her own integrity equally with others.
  • The Government is to take steps to utilize the capacity of the PWD by providing an appropriate environment.
  • It is also stipulated in section 3 that no PWD shall be discriminated on the ground of disability unless it is shown that the impugned Act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim and no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty only on the ground of disability.

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