Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

Summary Note on Act:
  • It replaced the 1995 Act.
  • It brought the Indian law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
  • Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
  • The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
  • Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time.
  • Acid Attack Victims have been included.
  • Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy has been indicated as separate class of specified disability.
  • The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Haemophilia and Sickle Cell disease.
  • In addition, the Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.
  • Responsibility has been cast upon the appropriate governments to take effective measures to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy their rights equally with others.
  • Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education, government jobs, reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
  • Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education to the children with disabilities.
  • It provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
Salient Features:
  • Definition of disability:
    • It has defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept to include 21 conditions as disable.
    • Expands the list of disabilities from seven to 21.
    • It also defines Persons with benchmark disabilities as those with at least 40% of any of the above specified disabilities.
    • Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time.
    • Acid Attack Victims have been included.
  • Rights of persons with disabilities:
    • Persons with disabilities (PwDs) shall have the right to equality.
    • They shall not be discriminated against on grounds of their disability.
    • Rights include protection from inhuman treatment and equal protection and safety in situations of risk, humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and armed conflict.
    • All existing public buildings shall be made accessible for disabled persons.
  • Education and skill development:
    • It provides for the access to inclusive education, self-employment and vocational training to disabled persons.
    • At least 5% seats in all government institutions of higher education and those getting aid from the government are required to reserve seats for persons with benchmark disabilities. Earlier it was only 3%.
  • Employment:
    • The Union and State governments will ensure that at least 4% of the vacancies in identified establishments are filled by persons or class of persons with at least 40% of any of the disabilities.
    • The reservation must be computed on the basis of total number of vacancies in the strength of a cadre. Government can exempt any establishment from this provision of reservation.
  • Legal Capacity: Disabled persons have the equal right to own and inherit movable and immovable property, as well as control their financial affairs in par with others.
  • Guardianship: The district court may order guardianship to the disable person if found a mentally ill person and not capable of taking care of himself or of taking legally binding decisions.
  • District level committees:
    • It will be constituted by the State Governments to address local concerns of PwDs.
    • Details of their constitution and the functions of such committees would be prescribed by the State Governments in the rules.
    • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.
  • Central and state advisory boards on Disability:
    • They will be constituted by Central and State governments respectively.
    • They will advise governments on policies and programmes on disability.
    • The will also review the activities of organisations dealing with disabled persons.
  • National and State Fund: It will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities. The existing National Fund for PwDs and the Trust Fund for Empowerment of PwDs will be subsumed with the National Fund.
  • Punishment: It provides for imprisonment ranging from six months to two years, along with a fine ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 5 lakh, for discriminating against differently abled persons.

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