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Updated: February 6, 2014 00:16 IST

Nalsar dissociates itself from Disability Rights Bill

Staff Reporter
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A file photo of Nalsar University Vice Chancellor Faizan Mustafa.
THE HINDU
A file photo of Nalsar University Vice Chancellor Faizan Mustafa.

Vice-Chancellor Faizan Mustafa calls it a ‘breach of trust’, says it has no resemblance to the original draft which Nalsar helped create

The Nalsar Law University, legal consultant for the committee which drafted the Disability Rights Bill of 2011, announced that it was dissociating itself from the bill approved by the Union Cabinet, as it had no resemblance to the original draft.

Vice-Chancellor of the University Faizan Mustafa called the bill a “breach of trust” and an “act of impropriety” on part of the Central government, and alleged that it was sought to be passed in secrecy without consultations.

Addressing a media conference on Wednesday, Prof. Mustafa alleged that the bill does not match the draft displayed on the website of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and lacks the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified by India.

The bill negated the benefits of the existing law as interpreted by the Supreme Court, by restricting the definition of the ‘establishments’ only to the institutions aided, funded or owned by the government, and excluding private institutions. Further, the bill uses the term ‘identified posts’ in relation to job reservations for the disabled, thereby empowering the government to exempt any industry just by a notification.

The approved bill does not have any mention of a separate tribunal or regulatory authority to redress the grievances of the persons with disabilities and their families, as envisaged by the 2011 draft, Prof. Mustafa alleged.

Amita Dhanda, professor in Law from the university, who had been active in drafting the original bill, noted that even while increasing the quota to five per cent instead of the existing three, and the number of disabilities to 19 from eight, the bill does not override the existing laws which prevent persons with certain disabilities from contracting or taking up employment.

Instead, it says the bill’s provisions are in addition to the existing laws. Hence, all the laws which hitherto have been exclusionary of the persons with mental disabilities will continue to be in force despite the latest enactment.

The committee constituted earlier by the government had held wide-ranging consultations with all stakeholders, by taking the draft bill translated into 14 languages, to 30 States and UTs, Prof. Dhanda informed. It would have resulted in a “forward looking” legislation, with provisions for the government to expand it if needed.

Prof. Mustafa said the university will fight the bill to be tabled, and take the issue to its logical end. Towards this, the university and other interest groups will take out a rally on February 8, he said.

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