Activists express concern over gaping loopholes
Activists fighting for disability rights have pointed out “gaping loopholes” in the draft Rules of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 alleging that the two contravene each other and expressed apprehension that the sector will continue to remain neglected despite tall promises by the Government for its empowerment.
For instance, said disability rights advocate SC Vasistha, while many sections of the Act that are applicable to establishments (both Government and private), the Rules render them inapplicable to private establishments. "Why private sector has been left out," he questioned.
Vasistha also alleged that the draft Rules are silent on protection from 'misuse' of Section 3(3) which states that "no person with disability 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."
Agreeing with Vasistha, Dr Satendra Singh, Associate Professor of Physiology at GTB Hospital, said that this clause gives unfettered power to the implementing agencies to discriminate against persons with disabilities, on the pretext of serving a "legitimate aim".
Singh, who is afflicted with polio knows better. He had to face discrimination on the same interpretation and it was only after four-year struggle, the government had to unlock 1700 posts for doctors with disabilities in the CGHS.
The 3.3 clause leaves "legitimate aim" open to the subjective interpretation of the bureaucracy, pitched in Vasistha adding that it is like providing escape route to justify the subjective action of a bureaucrat against a differently-abled person.
The activists have also expressed unhappiness at the way the power of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disability has been reduced to a recommendatory body, leaving the persons of disability completely unprotected.
Vasistha also felt that the Rules if approved in the present form would lead to inter-sectoral fight among the disabled people given that while number of category of disabled has increased from seven to 21, the percentage of post for reservation has not increased correspondingly.
The Civilian Welfare Foundation, an NGO working for rights of disabled sportsperson has rued that there is no mention in the Rules to ensure participation of the persons with disabilities in sporting activities. The activists have sought immediate correction in the Rules before they are finalised and notified.
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