Rajya Sabha passes Disabilities Bill

The bill increases the types of disabilities from seven to 21, making more people eligible to reap benefits  

By Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 December 2016

The Bill proposes to increase reservation from 3 per cent to 4 per cent in government jobs for persons with benchmark disability (Ctedit: iStock)

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Bill, a move that will significantly impact around 10 crore people with disabilities in the country. The bill was tabled in the house last week.

The new Bill will repeal the existing Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. It considers disability as an evolving and dynamic concept, increasing the types of disabilities from the existing seven to 21.

A government-issued statement says that acid attack victims, speech and language disability, and specific learning disability have been added for the first time. Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability. The new categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders: Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease. Further, the Bill gives power to the Central government to add to this list.

The bill ensures right to free education to every child with benchmark disability between the ages of 6 and 18 years. It proposes to increase reservation from 3 per cent to 4 per cent in government jobs for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability. The bill also talks about creation of national and state fund to provide financial support to persons with disabilities.

The bill proposes penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities. It casts responsibility on governments to take effective measures to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy their rights equally with others.

India has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) since October 2007. 

The bill, mooted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, which was then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The committee submitted its recommendations in May 2015. 

Based on these recommendations and consultation with state governments, amendments to the initial draft were proposed. The union cabinet in November, 2016 approved the proposal of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) to incorporate these amendments in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

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