Disabled rights groups staged a dharna on Thursday to protest the Centre’s failure to table the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2013, in Parliament even after the Cabinet cleared the measure last week.
Thanks to four years of strenuous efforts by the Disabled Rights Group (DRG), the Bill was approved by the Cabinet a few days ago, more or less without any changes. But it could not be tabled as both Houses were adjourned sine die , DRG convener Javed Abidi said.
Besides giving an expansive and comprehensive definition of disability, the Bill provides for an increase in the quota for persons with disabilities from three per cent to five per cent in government jobs. While it does not provide for any quota for persons with disabilities in the private sector, the Bill makes private companies accountable for creating a disabled-friendly environment.
The Bill raised the hopes of 70 million people with disabilities. If it was not tabled in Parliament soon, it would never become a law, the protesters said.
The Bill, which will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995, covers a whole spectrum of problems, from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities. Every person with disability, who fulfils eligibility requirements, is entitled to be registered as a voter. He/she should not be disqualified from exercising the voting right on the grounds of disability.
Any person who is unable to vote in person due to disability or because of admission to hospital is entitled to voting through postal ballot. The Election Commission shall ensure that polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities, it says.
The law will also allow mentally unsound women the right to fertility and prescribes punishment for forced abortion or hysterectomy on them.